International Freight Forwarder and Customs Broker Based in China

Shipping from China to Saudi Arabia | Air & Sea Freight


saudi china freight

If you’re about to import or export goods between China and Saudi Arabia, then you landed on the right page. It will be your guide where all the procedures are well explained.

Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Middle East and the richest Arab country in the region. Importing goods from China to Saudi Arabia has become an active field in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and this is due to the strong relationship between the two countries, at various levels, as China is Saudi Arabia is its largest partner in the Arab region.

SINO Shipping is your ideal freight forwarding partner to link the two countries and ship your goods efficiently.

We offer you different ways such as free freight quotations or free online books, to find for you the best shipping freights from any city in China to Saudi Arabia.  Adding to our decades of experience on the Asian market, a several hours were spent to study this topic to answer any question or doubt you may have about it. This article will help you to get started if you are a beginner in import and export field or help you to improve your business and be more diversified.

In this guide we will detail all the elements about the goods shipment and cargos, along with location, size, and shipping freight: sea FCL, sea LCL, air or express.  Also, we will provide you with freight cost estimates for each kind of transport and for each mode of shipment.

We are going to try to clarify all procedures about the shipping from China to Saudi Arabia but this does not prevent you from contacting us for further information.

Here is a summary of what we are going to deal with:

Table of Contents

PS: Personal advices and useful links will also be found along this article.


In Saudi Arabia, the Customs duties and import taxes average is about 4.85%.

Only Saudi companies, 100% owned by Saudis, can import. Importers will need to obtain a license from the Department of Commerce and Industry and then consult with the relevant Ministry, depending on the nature of the goods to be imported.

Customs clearance

What do I owe in customs duties and taxes when sailing China to Saudi Arabia?

You will be required to pay customs duty and GST when importing from China to Saudi Arabia before your products are published into the nation. Those costs may be substantial. Investigating your expenses early can prevent you from getting caught by accident.

How does the Customs Process work?

At the point when products land at port, traditions authorities will initially check all the documents, and afterward figure the measure of obligations owed and gather installment. After installment, products will be discharged.

To deal with the flexibility of customs, you can get your own representative or use the financing provided by your freight forwarder. If, by chance, you opt for Sino-Shipping, you can also use our financial advantages.

Importers must start clearing procedures by submitting the required documents and creating the customs declaration at least 48 hours before the shipment arrives at the port.

Import Conditions

There are a number of simple conditions that must be met for goods to be imported from China into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as follows:

  • Possession of a valid commercial record provided that the activity shown is identical to the listed cough.
  • Make sure to get your own customs code, and this is easy to get when you submit your commercial record to the customs authority.
  • The original document of origin of the goods, provided they are certified by the Chamber of Commerce in the country from which they are received.
  • An import invoice documented by the Ministry of Commerce of the country the goods are from.
  • A document stating that the incoming shipment conforms to Saudi or international specifications.
  • The presence of labels on goods that cannot be removed indicating the country of origin or export.
  • The expiry date of the commodity to comply with Saudi standards.
  • The imported medical goods must be registered with the Ministry of Health.
  • As for the visual, audio or printed publications, customs send samples from them to the Ministry of Information and Culture to ensure that they do not violate intellectual property rights.
  • As for animals and plants, they are subject to tests by the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that they comply with health standards

Import procedures

  • Determining the required quantities of the targeted commodities.
  • Transport the goods to the specified port in the country of origin in preparation for shipment to Saudi Arabia.
  • Shipping goods to the agreed Saudi port.
  • Customs clearance of the shipment after submission of documents and payment of financial dues.
  • Receipt of the shipment and depositing it in warehouses in preparation for distribution.

NB: You must declare in full transparency what was actually paid to you from the Chinese source, and attach all the required documents correctly and not forged or tampered with, all this will avoid you losing your goods, as a result of legal sanctions.

   For more information you can check the Saudian customs website.


When delivery cargo from China to Saudi Arabia, make a point to get all the documents required for importing goods into Saudi Arabia.

  • Certificate of origin authenticated with a local chamber of commerce and translated into Arabic. It should precise where the goods were manufactured. The CO it’s the ID of your goods.
  • Saudi Customs Invoice (in triplicate) – required for the majority of imports entering Saudi Arabia (except those of low monetary value).
  • bill of lading: An authenticated document (in triplicate), clearly indicating the country of origin, the name of the carrier, the make and number of goods, and a clear description of the goods, including weight and value
  • Commercial invoice : it’s a descriptive invoice that describes all the goods and contains HS codes.
  • Packing List: It should detail the HS code of the goods you’re transferring.
  • Insurance documents if the imports are forwarded. Original documents must be accompanied by an Arabic translation.
  • SASO (Saudi Arabian Standards Organisation) Certificate of Conformity, issued by an approved certification body in the country of origin.

All these documents will have to be stamped by the following organizations: The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the exporting country; The “bilateral” chamber of commerce; The Saudi Arabian Consulate of the exporting country.


-For fruit, vegetables and seeds, a phytosanitary certificate is required.

-For meat, a health certificate is required, to be provided by the veterinary services of the exporting country, as well as a slaughter certificate indicating that it has been slaughtered according to Islamic rites, to be issued by the Islamic competent authority of the exporting country.

These documents must be signed either by the Chamber of Commerce or by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.




Saudi Arabia is the 20th largest exporter of goods and the 32nd largest import market in the world. Foreign trade accounts for 67% of its GDP (2019). Petroleum products account for a large majority of its exports (78.5% of total exports in 2018).

In 2019, Saudi Arabia’s exports reached $170 billion and its imports $96.2 billion; Its main customers are China with $29.1 billion i.e. 3.3% of exports, Japan ($25 billion), and India ($19.4 billion).

Leading its main suppliers are China ($18.3 billion- 16.5% of imports), the United States ($7.66 billion), and Germany ($7.19 billion).

The import and export procedures are easy and well organized, in addition to the abundance of sea, land and air shipping routes and ports.

Maritime transport contributes about 59.5% of the total Saudi imports, followed by air transport at 24.8%, followed by land transport with 15.7%.

Majors ports

Most ports serve several categories of ships, including bulk carriers, bulk cargo (goods loaded individually in bags, boxes, crates or drums, sometimes palletized), containers, roll-on/roll-off and passenger ships.

The Kingdom has ten ports, four of which overlook the coast of the Persian Gulf and six on the Red Sea coast through which 13% of the volume of world trade passes, and is directly linked to all the economic, industrial and commercial activities established in all the regions and cities of the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia’s main Red Sea ports


Jeddah is the second largest city in Saudi Arabia and a major trading centre, located on the Red Sea coast.

On the maritime level, the port of Jeddah is the most important Saudi port and one of the most important in the world, where goods from the West transit to the interior of the country. The city was a staging post on the road to India.

75% of the merchandise entering the country by sea transits through the port of Jeddah, making it the most important port in the country with a capacity of 130 million tons, or 39 ships at the same time.


  • Jazan

The port of Jazan is characterized by its location close to eastern and western maritime trade routes between Europe and the Far East, the Persian Gulf and East Africa. The city of Jizan is connected to the rest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with a modern road network that enables it to serve the southern regions of the Kingdom. The port of Jazan is a modern port with modern facilities. The port also has eight ships which are locomotives and service vessels.


  • King Fahd Industrial Port in Yanbu

It is a port located in Yanbu governorate on the Red Sea coast, and is considered the largest loading port for crude oil, refined products and petrochemicals on the Red Sea, and is dedicated to serving industrial complexes and meeting their needs in addition to exporting crude oil and its refined derivatives as well as liquid and solid petrochemicals to international markets. The port was built specifically to serve industrial parks and meet their requirements.

It’s on the line between America and Europe mediates through the Suez Canal and the Far East through the Bab al-Mandab


  • Yanbu Commercial Port

It’s one of the oldest ports overlooking the Red Sea, it is located on the east coast about 460 nautical miles south of the Suez Canal and 168 nautical miles northwest of the Islamic port of Jeddah.

In order to transfer trade to and from economically promising areas throughout the country, the port is linked to a modern network of land routes that mainly connects the regions of Madinah and Makkah Al-Mukarramah, making it the most important strategic seaport in these regions.

In 2018, the number of cargoes handled at the port increased by 45% compared to the previous year (4 million tonnes compared to 2.8 million tonnes).


  • Port de Duba

It is located in the city of Dubai, in the Tabuk region, northwest of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was opened as a link between the northwestern region of the Kingdom and the global economy.

The port contains geographical elements that support it in attracting goods destined for the northern region of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iraq, which is located at the end of the northern Red Sea coast.

The port of Duba is the closest Saudi port to Egyptian ports overlooking the Red Sea. It is also the closest Saudi port to the Suez Canal, and therefore the closest to the countries of the Mediterranean basin and its port in the region on international trade lines.

The main Saudi Arabian ports in the Persian Gulf

  • Port du roi Abdelaziz : Dammam

Located on the Persian Gulf, founded in the late 1940s, it is the second largest Saudi port after Jeddah. The port of King Abdulaziz in Dammam is considered the main port of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on the Persian Gulf. It is the main port where goods from all over the world are shipped to the eastern and central regions of the Kingdom.

The port as a whole covers 193 million square meters and is connected by several highways and railways to the dry port of Riyadh. It’s is an important center at the national, regional and international levels, in the field of cargo handling to serve importers and exporters. It provides them with modern logistic services that help them in the field of the shipping industry.


  • The port of Ras Al-Khair

Works started for its creation in 2008 so the port is the last industrial port in Saudi Arabia and its importance lies in its new industrial zone of diversified production.

It is a Saudi industrial port located in the city of Ras Al-Khair in eastern Saudi Arabia, on the coast of the Persian Gulf, about 80 km from the Saudi industrial city of Jubail.

The port is considered as one of the pillars of the Saudi economy to supply vital programmes and projects implemented by the public and private sectors in the industrial zone of Ras Al Khair.


  • The King Fahd Industrial Port

The King Fahd Industrial Port is located in Jubail, in the east of the Kingdom, on the west coast of the Persian Gulf, next to the industrial city of Jubail, and 90 km northwest of has 34 berths.

It was established in 1974 to import raw materials required by local industries and industrial products such as petrochemicals and refined petroleum products.


  • The commercial port of Jubail

It was established in 1977 – and all its facilities were completed in 1980 on an area of about 4 million square metres, making it one of the largest projects of its kind;

It is located on the east coast of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, overlooking the Persian Gulf, and 80 km north of the city of Dammam.

The port has 16 berths: 8 berths for general cargo handling; 4 berths for bulk cargo handling; 4 berths for container handling. It has equipment and a fleet of warships, such as towing locomotives, guide boats and mooring boats, which makes it permanently ready to perform manoeuvres to berth and leave ships in various weather conditions in a safe and without delay.

Sea freight transit times

How long does it take to sail from China to Saudi Arabia? Your shipment transit time will depend on location, cargo size and season. Here is a table of delivery time estimates:

Port to Port Door to Door
Sea Freight (FCL) 13-25 days 22-26 days
Sea Freight (LCL) 16-28 days 23-28 days

Sea freight rates

Sea freight allows you to ship huge quantities of items at very competitive costs with reasonable transit time. It’s the best deal for regular shipments.

  • Average price for an FCL container from China- Saudi Arabia (high season): $1,500

Container freight rates from China to Saudi Arabia: 20’ container

Shipping from Xin gang (CNXIP Port) Shipping from Dalian (CNDLC Port) Shipping from Qingdao (CNTAO Port)
Shipping to Dammam (SADMN Port) 952$ 952$ 850$
Shipping to Jubail (SAJUB Port) 1,130$ 1,130$ 765$

*The quotations (estimates) are daily shipping rates for port-to-port high season FCL.

Container freight rates from China to Saudi Arabia: 40’ container

Shipping from Xin gang (CNXIP Port) Shipping from Dalian (CNDLC Port) Shipping from Qingdao (CNTAO Port)
Shipping to Dammam (SADMN Port) 1,350$ 1,170$ 1,080$
Shipping to Jubail (SAJUB Port) 1,450$ 1,250$ 1,250$

*The quotations are daily shipping rates for port-to-port high season FCL.

  • Average price for sea LCL: $100

Example: Freight Rates from Chongqing to Jubail: LCL

Shipping from Chongqing (CNCKG Port)
Shipping to Jubail (SAJUB Port) 50$


Generally, air shipping is quicker but more costly than sea shipping.

Major ports


King Khalid International Airport is located 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and was designed in 1983.

The airport occupies an area of approximately 225 square kilometres and includes terminals, a mosque, the control tower and the airfield with two parallel runways, each 4,200 metres (13,800 ft.) long, the royal pavilion, the air cargo building, the post office, the private aviation building, ground crossings, aircraft parking and a shopping centre.

The airport is the gateway to the capital of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is the centre of national air transport. It was built to meet international and local air transport requirements for the Riyadh region.


 King Abdulaziz International Airport (KAIA) is an airport facility located 19 km north of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Named after King Abdulaziz Al Saud, the airport is the third largest airport facility in Saudi Arabia.

The airport occupies an area of 15 square kilometres. This area includes not only the airport itself, but also a royal terminal, Royal Saudi Air Force facilities and accommodation facilities for airport staff.


It is located 25 kilometres northwest of Dammam, Saudi Arabia. It is the largest airport in the world in terms of surface area (780 km²), even larger than the neighbour country of Bahrain.

The General Civil Aviation Authority of Saudi Arabia finally opened the new Dammam King Fahd International Airport on 28 November 1999 to commercial traffic, and all airlines have transferred their operations from Dhahran Airport, which was used until then.

The new Dammam Airport serves the entire eastern region of Saudi Arabia.


Prince Mohammad Bin Abdulaziz International Airport is a regional airport located in the western Saudi city of Madinah. It is the fourth busiest airport in Saudi Arabia, with 1 million passengers yearly, including 378,715 charter passengers to the Hajj. It operates an average of 20 to 25 flights per day.

It is the main hub and operations center for Saudi Arabian Airlines. It is also considered the Makkah Air Gate,


  Saudi Airlines Cargo Saudi Cargo is one of the leading companies with its weight in the global freight market. It operates direct flights from China to Saudi Arabia in order to meet the growing demand for cargo operations and to boost commercial traffic to and from the Asian continen.

Air freight transit times

When you have a little shipment and need it conveyed as fast as to be expected, you should mull over express.

Port to Port Door to Door
Air Freight 3- 6 days 6 -12 days
Express* –– 1- 4 days

* Express freight is always door to door

Air freight rates

The air freight’s cost is based on the heavier weight value between the gross weight and the volumetric weight. The Average price for air freight from China to Saudi Arabia is about $500 and for express air freight is $600

Shipping rates from Shanghai to Dammam


Shipping from Shanghai (PVG Airport)
Shipping to Dammam (DMM airport) 436$

Cheapest times to ship from China to Saudi Arabia

 Seasonal factors affect freight costs, in particular the FCL sea freight and air freight levels. Recall taking into account high season in both China and Saudi Arabia while moving shipping.

Peak seasons for shipping from China to Saudi Arabia

Event Outcome on Shipping When
Chinese New Year For several weeks of festivities, the industries and services remained shut down, triggering price rises and delays Late January/early February (exact dates follow the lunar calendar)
Golden Week This week-long fest worsens price increases and disruptions in holiday period October 1st and the week following
Dragon Boat Festival Companies generally close for three days, which could cause major delays June (exact dates follow the lunar calendar)
Holiday Shopping Season Prices will rise slowly throughout a period of months, as industries prep for holiday purchases October-December (air), July-October (sea)


 Should I get insurance for shipping to Saudi Arabia from China?

When calculating your shipping costs, don’t forget to protect yourself in case your goods are damaged or lost. you can do this through your freight forwarder.

 Sino Shipping Provides you with tailored commercial insurance that allows the buyer to receive a full refund if your merchandise is stolen, damaged or lost in transit.

Generally, and Depending on the type of items, the insurance costs are about 1 to 3% of your Commercial Invoice Price i.e. the shipment + transport value you should pay for the items.



When carrying from China to Saudi Arabia, you can select any of the four modes: LCL maritime freight, FCL maritime freight, air freight or express freight.
LCL: 70 USD /cbm FCL: 1,600 USD/20’: 2,000 USD/40’ Express shipping door to door (10kg): 600 USD
Average transit time by sea: 10 days Average transit time by airfreight: 5 days (daily direct flight) Express shipping door to door (10kg): 2 days

There are only 2 options, by sea or by air, it depends on how big the volume and the weight are, and then you will decide which shipping methods is more adequate. You must calculate the ration time/cost

For instance, in case you’re sailing from Shanghai, China to Jubail in Saudi Arabia, you’re going to need to get some information about the price distinction between transportation from the provider’s distribution center in Shanghai meaning adopting EXW incoterm and transporting from the Shanghai port (CNSHA) meaning adopting FOB incoterm. FOB prices are usually cheaper, but FOB delivery doesn’t necessarily mean that your overall expenses will be reasonable. Paying your distributor to carry your products to port may make up the cost. Remember that several incoterms are only used for shipping by sea, like FOB. Learn all about incoterms here
You will be required to pay customs duty and GST when importing from China to Saudi Arabia before your products are published into the nation. Those costs may be substantial. Investigating your expenses early can prevent you from getting caught by accident

When delivery cargo from China to Saudi Arabia, make a point to get all your administrative work, for example, the Commercial Invoice and Bill of Lading, all together

Plan Forward. Sea transport is the fastest, but it requires longest time as well. If you can save time by reserving in advance– and reduces the pressure if delays appear.

o Offpeak Ship. When shippers get preoccupied, the shipping rates along with the transit times increase. Ship everywhere you can in low season.

o Get the documentation right. When it comes to quick customs clearing, having your paperwork in order can make all the difference.

o Know the Codes for HS. Most shippers are shocked about how many customs duties can influence business expenses. Do your analysis, in order to make a viable budget.

o Think about statements from various suppliers. Statements can shift, so look at offers from changed suppliers before settling on a choice.

o Comprehend what’s remembered for your statement. Is your statement port to port or entryway to entryway? What administration does it incorporate? Comprehend what you’re paying for to abstain from getting hit with shock expenses