What is the best way to ship goods from China to India ?


SINO Shipping is your perfect partner to send your goods from China to India. We can plan sea, air, rail or road freight between those two countries for all sort of items, even if they are perishable or hazardous. With SINO Shipping, every corner of China can be linked to all locations in India.

First of all, thank you for visiting us here. It’s the ideal page for you, if you’re in quest of great data on trades and import processes between India and China. Without regarding if you’re wanting to import Chinese goods in India, or you’re in China and try to export your products to an Indian client. Here, we have synthetized our decade of experience in freight between both countries, detailing what is better for your goods, no matter of their volume, weight, quantity and type. From a tiny parcel, to a complete bulk cargo, you will understand precisely the transfer steps and procedures between the two countries. Also, we will provide you personal advises and interesting links, to implement or improve your trading objectives.

In a first part we will discuss the freight methods existing between China and India, and which one is adapted to your situation. After, we will talk about the customs clearing process and finish with the trade relations between the two Asian titans.


Customs clearance in India


How to be exempted of duties and taxes


Because there isn’t any Free Trade Agreements between the two countries, the possibility for you to be exempted of taxes is very tiny. Complementary to this, India has one of the most difficult customs clearing process and legislation in the world. If you combine these two factors, it explains while most of the Indian importers are asking services to freight forwarders, to handle the customs procedures. With our great experience between the two countries, we can take in charge for you all this procedure and the inherent paperwork. Just let us know.


Necessary documents


The Certificate of Origin (CO)

The CO is a proof of the place where your goods were produced. As its name is saying, it certifies of the origin of your items and is recognised by all customs of all countries. Generally, the CO must be delivered by a government or a notary public.


The Bill of Entry (BOE)

The Bill of Entry should not be mingled with the Bill of Lading.

It’s one of the most important documents for the import. The Bill of Entry must be signed by the Importer and sent to the corresponding customs office within 30 days after the arrival of the items in India. The BOE is testifying of the “total outward remittance of country” ruled by the Reserve Bank and the Indian Customs.



The Bill of Lading (BL) or Airway Bill

The Bill of Lading (different from the Bill of Entry) is a major document required for imports in every country. As the CO testifies of where your goods are coming from, the BL is witnessing of the cargo’s information, the payment transfer from the importer to the freight forwarder and the issuance of the LC (Letter of Credit). The Bill of Lading is inherent to sea freight why the Airway bill comes for an air freights.


Here is a detailed example of what contains a BL: 

1 = Shipper
2 = Consignee
3 = Notify party
4 = Vessel No.
5 = Port of loading / discharge
6 = Place of receipt / delivery
7 = Containers No.
8 = Goods description
9 = Net weight
10 = Dimensions / volume

Product test reports

Customs officers have to determine the quality of the products that you import. In this objective they might withdraw samples on your products and send them to a sworn laboratory. The complete clearing can only be finished after receiving the official results. An already made test report will probably save you and the customs time.

Product description, catalogue…

Documents or literature detailing technical aspects and functions of the goods, might be demanded by customs to clear special imports. It will help customs officers to find out the exact value of your goods, if they are uncommon.

GATT & DGFT Declarations

Every importer in India needs to fill a General Agreement on Tariff and Trade declaration (GATT) and a Directorate General of Foreign Trade declaration (DGFT).


Labels requirements for Chinese products



Labels can be written in English or Hindi. Here are the information that must be available on the label

  • Product name and description
  • Net weight
  • Date of production
  • Importer’s address
  • Maximum selling price, taxes included
  • Batch ID
  • MM/YYYY of the import
  • Dimensions (optional)
  • Expiry date and net weight (for food only)


BIS, Indian Standards (IS) and ISI Mark

The BIS is the state agency in charge of the establishment of the security and quality norms and standards in India. It produced a huge number of norms applicable to a lot of items that are produced or imported in India.

If you’re willing to import these items below, you must ensure yourself that they agree with one of the norms set by the BIS, before commanding them to your supplier:

  • Cement
  • Household electrical goods
  • Food & agricultural products
  • Diesel engines
  • Oil pressure stoves
  • Automobiles accessories
  • Steel cylinders, valves and regulators
  • Medical equipment
  • Steel products


The Indian Standard are a set of rules, norms and standards that are applying to goods, of Indian or foreign origin. They are created by the BIS. Nowadays there is around 20,000 IS that are applying. Although, it is better if the goods you’re importing are consonant with the existing IS, but it’s not an obligation in order to import them on the Indian territory, as some IS aren’t compulsory.

If your goods are meeting the Indian Standards, you supplier will be able to put the ISI mark on them. As most of the Chinese suppliers are not used with it, you will have to provide them ISI mark, so they can print it. It’s comparable as the CE mark system that is ruling in the European Economic Area.

Your responsibility towards the BIS


For goods produced in India, it’s the manufacturer that is responsible for the accordance of his products with the IS. For goods produced overseas, it’s the Importer that is liable to the IS compliance of the goods he is importing.

If your goods are IS mandatory, we advise you to search for Chinese supplier that are already used to produce items matching with the IS, even if they are a few. Because if they are not, the steps to obtain this certification are numerous and it can take a lot of time, as you’re the person responsible of it, without a guarantee of results.


Here is a to-do-list for you to supervise IS matching items production:

  • Find a Chinese manufacturer/supplier that is selling CE or FCC marked products. This category of supplier is more willing to accept and to be able to manage an IS product development process.
  • Order samples of the goods you want to import. Send the samples to a BIS accredited laboratory.
  • The laboratory will give you the results. If it’s positive, your supplier can put the ISI mark on the products. If it’s negative, they will give you further explanations. After, it’s on your will to try again or to give up.
  • Despite positive results, the BIS can request further tests and factory inspection by their representatives.
  • If all is ok after it, you can start your import process.

*Of course, all of this will be on your own expense.


Other documents


  • The Import Licenses, Certificates… (if any)
  • The customs duty payment slips (if your items are dutiable)
  • The Insurance certificate (if any)
  • The commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Proforma invoice
  • Health / Food Safety Certificate (only for food products)
  • Industrial License (if any)


Duties and taxes in India


Most of the countries are working with the Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) to identify products, but India is one of the few countries that is not using exactly this system.


Here is a picture detailing the information provided by a HS code


harmonized stystem codes

At present, you know what HS code is matching with your goods. It will help you to determine what duties and taxes you will pay, on this official Indian customs tool.

First, enter the access code shown on the first page. Select “Trade Guide on Imports” on the next page.

On the following page, if you are searching tariffs applying to pineapples produced in China, type pineapple and select China as the country of origin. Select the corresponding HS Code “080430” on the next page and you will land to the final page, detailing you the tariff rates that are applying.


tariff customs india

Customs contact in China

China customs emblem

Customs contact in India

Customs process

Export and import clearance customs

Trade relations between China and India


The BRICS, motor of the cooperation between the two countries


Because of their geographical proximity, exchanges and trades between India and China have always been great since ancient times. Their closeness is also the cause of several litigates between both countries. In our current times, conflicts are subsisting for the administration of the Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin regions in northern India/eastern China. We can say that they are as much willing to cooperate, than feeling concurrents to each other. Fortunately, thanks to the yearly BRICS forum, they are soothing their relations for better common development.

India and China have the greatest economies and populations in the world, and are constantly developing, particularly through international trades.
Hong Kong and China are the third partner of India in terms of exports, with almost 9 % of the Indian exported goods going there. China is India’s first import partner with 17 % of the goods imported to India coming from China. On the other hand, India isn’t a major partner for China, as only 0.74 % of the imported goods into China are coming from India. India is the 7th export partner of China, with 2.78 % of the goods exported from China are going to India.
As said before, India and China doesn’t have any Free Trade Agreements in common. Like all emerging countries, duties and taxes on importations in India are heavy, around 12 % on average. So you must be ready to pay duties going from 5 % to 30 % on the Chinese goods you want to import.


Prohibited & restricted items

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Counterfeit Notes





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India has always been a great interface for trades between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. India’s geography is putting it in the first place of the greatest world’s peninsula. This gives to India one of the biggest world seashore, with a total length of 7517 kilometres. Adding this to its incredible population and economy, you have numerous ports infrastructures that are boarding its coasts in results. Because of its transition from an emerging to a rich country, India’s maritime system and infrastructures are in constant mutation, to follow the economic challenges that are facing the country. Statistics from the Indian Ministry of Shipping are showing that sea freight represents 95 % of the international trades in terms of volume and 70 % in terms of value.

There is 176 Minor ports and 13 Major ports that are operated by Public Private Partnerships (PPP) between the Indian states and the Port Trusts. 60 % of the Ocean traffic in India goes through the Major ports, while the other 40 % are due to the Minor Ports. This percentage might change for most of the traffic going to the Minor Ports by 2020, according to the Maritime Agenda 2010-200.

Major Ports of the East Coast



It is the third largest container ports of India and the first of the east coast. It was opened in 1881 and is now ruled by the Chennai Port Trust, and the Singaporean group PSA International. Its container traffic was of 1,468,000 TEUs and it handled 46.29 Million tonnes of cargo in 2015.



It is the oldest port of India, opened in 1870. It is operated by PSA International also and the Kolkata Port Trust. In 2015, its container traffic was of 563,000 TEUs and it handled 46.29 Million tonnes of cargo. It’s the second busiest port of the east coast.



Opened in 1933, it is now operated by the Emirati group DPW and the Visakhapatnam Port Trust. Located midway between Kolkata and Chennai, it is the third major east coast port with a container traffic of 263,000 TEUs and 58 Million tonnes of cargo in 2015.

Major ports of the West Coast



It is the biggest Indian port and it opened after the independence in the 1950s. In 2016 the port managed 106 million tonnes of cargo. Again, it is operated by PSA International and the Kandla Port Trust.


Jawaharlal Nehru

Also known as Nhava Sheva or JNPT, it is the second biggest port of both India and the west coast. It is operated by the Danish group AP Møller and the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust. Opened in 1989, it is one of the most recent Indian port. It has the ambition to manage 10,000,000 TEUs by the year 2021. Located in the Maharashtra state, most of the cargo of the region is handled here, while bulk cargos are managed by the neighbour port of Mumbai.

Sea freight transit times


Tianjin Shanghai Hong Kong
Kandla 24 days 18 days 17 days
Paradip 17 days 15 days 17 days
JNPT 23 days 22 days 20 days
Mumbai 23 days 22 days 19 days
21 days 19 days 16 days
Chennai 16 days 14 days 17 days
Kolkata 17 days 19 days 17 days
20 days 14 days 17 days
Mangalore 18 days 16 days 18 days
Tuticorin 16 days 14 days 17 days

*Please note that those transit times are just indicative timing between China and India


Sea freight rates


*If time isn’t a key parameter for your transfer, sea freight is the best solution in your hand. If you’re more constrained by money than time, maritime freight is advised.

To go straight to the point, ocean freights possess two major benefits: you can transfer huge quantities, at the lowest prices. You will particularly appreciate this method if you’re aiming to send regular shipments with great volume and/or weight.

As told above, SINO Shipping can provide all types of service for every kind of volume! Our flexibility will enable us to fully adapt to your special needs and requirements.



India is possessing a large number of international airports, that are covering all the country. They are 35 in total, while in China there is at least 60 International Airports. Numerous international cargo lines are linking the two countries with direct flights. We can mention China Cargo Airlines who possess branches in Chennai International Airports. Of course, other non-Asian Airlines have flights arriving to India’s international airports from China.


Air freight transit times


Normally, a plane will fly from China to India in less than 12 hours door-to-door. A regular air freight will permit to deliver your items, from your supplier in China to your address in India within a week. A courier air freight (express) will enables us to do it in less than 4 days.

Air freight rates


*To obtain the chargeable weight of your products, two calculation methods will be used.

First you need to calculate the weight with the two methods, gross weight and volumetric weight. Then keep the highest value, it’s the one you will be charged for.



*For courier services, your product’s chargeable weight will differ, because the volumetric weight is based on this ratio: 1 cubic meter = 200 kilograms



Even though India and China have common borders, rail freight between both countries is not very developed. It is an evidence of India’s problem to develop its infrastructures.

Both countries had the occasion to be well-connected by rails, after the independence of India in the 1950s. At that time, The Trans-Asian  Railway was a project designed by the United Nations, aiming to implement a great rail network linking Europe to Asia, to facilitate trades and exchanges between the two continents. It will develop landlocked countries like Mongolia and Afghanistan on the same occasion. But conflicts and wars in Asia, added to the tremendous soaring of air and sea freight let the project pending during the rest of the 20th century.

The southern Corridor”, one of the 4 part of the project, aimed to link Europe to SE Asia and the Yunnan Province of China via India. But gaps are still existing between China and India. This explains why rail freight between both countries is expensive and without great transit times.


Rail freight transit times


This table here details regular transit times between the biggest Chinese and Indian cities:

Shenzhen/Hong Kong
Ningbo/Shanghai Beijing
Mumbai 14 days 16 days 15 days
Delhi 12 days 14 days 14 days
Bangalore 14 days 17 days 16 days
Kolkata 9 days 12 days 12 days
Chennai 13 days 16 days 15 days
Hyderabad 13 days 15 days 15 days
Ahmedabad 13 days 15 days 16 days
Pune 13 days 16 days 15 days
Surat 13 days 15 days 15 days
Kanpur 11 days 13 days 12 days

*Please note that those transit times are just indicative timing between China and India

You must know that the border between China and Vietnam is crossed by trains in only two points. There is a first line linking Kunming to Hanoi and crossing the border in Lao Cai (Vietnam) and Hekou (China). Then there is a second line linking Beijing to Hanoi and crossing the border at the “Friendship pass” between Pingxiang (China) and Đồng Đăng (Vietnam).

The train will cross the border between Vietnam and the south of Laos on two major points, in Dansavan (Laos) and Tt. Lao Bao (Vietnam), and at the Nam Phao International Checkpoint.


Here is a table of the usual transit times between Chinese and Laotian cities:

Vientiane Pakse
Shenzhen/Guangzhou 4 days 4 days
Xi’an 7 days 8 days
Qingdao 8 days 9 days
Ningbo/Shanghai 7 days 8 days
Beijing 8 days 8 days
Chongqing 5 days 5 days
Kunming 3 days 4 days
Nanchang 6 days 6 days
Harbin 11 days 12 days
Changsha 5 days 5 days

Rail freight rates


*As mentioned above, rail freights are expensive between these countries. You will pay around 4500 USD on average for a full container transiting via cargo trains between China and India.

We will propose you this solution if your supplier is located in the eastern part of China (which is rarely the case) and if your goods needs to be sent in north west India, like in Kolkata.


trucking service

Your goods will take similar routes than rail freight. Roads in India are still in need of progress, but in China they are well-shaped and well-maintained. It halves the transit times on average, if you compare road freight to sea freight. But the rates are multiplied by 5 or 6 on the other hand. Not to be neglected, there is bigger risks for a road freight to be delayed or extended, due to the bad road conditions in India. Because most of the Chinese suppliers or manufacturers are located near the Chinese major ports and seashore, it will be hard for a road freight to be competitive. The two countries being also great in terms of area, the road distance covered by trucks can be very long.

Road freight will be an advantage for distances like Kunming-Kolkata. If your supplier is located (again) in eastern China (not common) and your goods must be delivered in northern India, it will be the best freight method for sure. In other situations, you can easily forget it.


Road freight transit times


This table gives you the transit times by road freight, on average.

Shenzhen Qingdao Shanghai Beijing
Mumbai 7 days 8 days 8 days 8 days
Pune 7 days 8 days 8 days 8 days
Delhi 6 days 7 days 7 days 7 days
Bengalore 7 days 8 days 8 days 8 days
Kolkata 5 days 6 days 6 days 6 days
Chennai 7 days 8 days 8 days 8 days
Hyderabad 7 days 8 days 7 days 7 days
Ahmedabad 7 days 8 days 8 days 7 days
Surat 7 days 8 days 8 days 7 days
Kanpur 5 days 6 days 6 days 6 days

*Please note that those transit times are just indicative timing between China and India

Road freight transit times


*Road freight rates are varying a lot, depending on the road distance. At least you will be charged around 2500 USD for the shortest distance, and it can go around 9000 USD if the journey covers the extremities of India and China.

Similarly, to a rail freight, we will advise you this solution if there isn’t that much distance between you and your supplier.

Freight insurance


If the loss of your goods can be lethal for your business, you must secure your shipment with advanced coverage, thanks to our insurance

Because we’re always exposed to the occurring of a bad event, SINO Shipping linked with the greatest freight insurers to cover your items while they are transferred. You will be refunded the full value of your cargo, if they are damaged during the freight. Our insurance price is define on the base of 2% of the freight + shipment total value. As it’s not an obligation, we will cover your goods on your demand.

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