The different methods of transportation between China and South Korea

To begin, keep in mind that there are three modes of transportation available: sea, air, and rail. In addition, we provide a comparison to help you choose the best alternative for your needs.

Sea freight from China to South Korea

Overview - Trade relations between China and South Korea

Trade relations between China and South Korea have been robust over the past few decades, with bilateral trade reaching significant heights. In recent years, China has become South Korea's largest trading partner, while South Korea ranks as China's third-largest trading partner. The trade between these two nations mainly includes electronic goods, machinery, and raw materials.

Sea transportation plays a pivotal role in the trade relationship between China and South Korea. As the two countries are geographically close and share a long coastline, sea transportation provides a cost-effective and efficient way of moving goods between the two nations. The major ports for sea freight in China include Shanghai, Ningbo, and Shenzhen, while Incheon, Busan, and Gwangyang are popular ports in South Korea. Shipping via sea is not only less expensive compared to air freight, but also allows for the transportation of a higher volume of goods. Additionally, sea transportation also supports the growth of other industries such as shipbuilding, logistics, and marine engineering, which are crucial to the economies of both China and South Korea.

The main shipping routes between China and South Korea

There are several shipping routes between China and South Korea, with the most popular routes being between the major ports of each country. The main shipping routes for sea freight between China and South Korea include:

  • Shanghai to Busan: This is one of the most popular routes for sea freight between China and South Korea. The port of Shanghai in China is the busiest port in the world, while Busan in South Korea is the fifth-busiest port in the world.
  • Ningbo to Incheon: Ningbo is another major port in China, and Incheon is the largest port in South Korea. This route is also popular for shipping goods between the two countries.
  • Shenzhen to Gwangyang: Shenzhen is located in the south of China, and Gwangyang is a major port in South Korea. This route is particularly important for the transportation of raw materials and manufactured goods between the two nations.
  • Qingdao to Busan: Qingdao is a major port in northern China, and Busan is located on the southeast coast of South Korea. This route is particularly important for the transportation of agricultural products, minerals, and chemicals.


Transport time between China and South Korean ports

Here is an estimated table of transport times between some of the main ports in China and Russia for sea freight:

Port in China Port in South Korea Approximate Transport Time (days)



























What container can I choose for shipment between China and South Korea?

Here are many ways of transportation that may be utilized depending on the size of your products:

  • ¬†The¬†20'GP¬†container, with a maximum capacity of¬†33m3
  • The¬†40' GP¬†container, with a maximum capacity of¬†67m3
  • The¬†40' HC¬†container, with a maximum capacity of¬†76m3

Let's do some further analysis by comparing the two modes of transportation.

DocShipper Tip: If you have special requirements for your shipment, such as heavy machinery or bulky goods, don't hesitate to contact us. We can help you find the appropriate method for any type of shipment.

Special transports between China and South Korea

Reefer container

A reefer container is a specialized type of shipping container used to transport items that require temperature regulation. The container is outfitted with refrigeration and heating systems that keep the temperature constant, enabling the safe transport of perishable commodities such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and medications. Reefer containers are available in a variety of sizes and can be used for both FCL and LCL shipments. They are frequently employed for long-distance sea or land transport, as well as air freight.


RoRo, which stands for "Roll-on/Roll-off," is a type of transportation vessel designed to transport wheeled cargo such as cars, trucks, and trailers, as well as non-wheeled freight that can be rolled onto and off the vessel using ramps. RoRo vessels have huge, open decks and can handle a variety of vehicles of various sizes and forms. This mode of transportation is frequently used for transporting big amounts of material over long distances and is seen as a cost-effective and efficient method of transporting commodities.


The ship's hold is full of bulk cargo, which differs from other forms of cargo in that it is divided into a liquid and solid mass. This type of cargo is especially important for countries with vast natural resources that create big amounts of it.

Out Of Gauge (OOG)

Out-of-gauge freight, which comprises goods with a volume larger than the average during transit, necessitates special management. Specific solutions must be offered in such circumstances to ensure their safe transit.

How much does sea freight between China and South Korea cost?

To determine the cost of your shipment, it's crucial to know the weight and volume of your items, as these factors form the basis of the tariff. According to the equivalence rule, the weight/volume ratio is 1 ton = 1 m3.

In conventional and groupage transportation, the basic freight is calculated based on the weight/volume ratio and the 1 ton = 1 m3 concept. The tariff is expressed in payment units (PU), which can be either the weight in tons or the volume in cubic meters, and is always in favor of the shipping company. Thus, the higher value is used to calculate the cost.

The pricing for a full container is influenced by the shipping company and the type of container used, but it's not clearly defined.

As a result, it's best to receive a price from a freight forwarding firm or shipping carrier like DocShipper depending on your individual shipping requirements. We will be able to provide you with a more precise estimate of the cost of sea freight for your particular shipment.

DocShipperAlert: Determining the cost of transportation other than sea freight might be difficult. DocShipper streamlines the process. Fill out our online form and our experts and assistants will answer all of your inquiries 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or contact us directly for support and peace of mind.

Air freight between China and South Korea

The different types of air freight

Air freight is a popular choice for shipping goods between China and South Korea, offering speed and efficiency. There are two broad categories of air freight available for this route: conventional air freight and express air freight.

Conventional Air Freight: Conventional air freight involves the shipment of goods via commercial airlines or cargo carriers. It is typically used for larger and heavier loads that are not time-sensitive. Conventional air freight can be further classified into the following categories:

  • Standard air freight: This service is used for shipping larger shipments that are not time-sensitive.
  • Charter air freight: This service involves the hiring of an entire aircraft to transport a shipment. It is typically used for oversized, heavy, or urgent loads.
  • Consolidated air freight: This service involves the consolidation of multiple smaller shipments into a single shipment to optimize transportation costs.

Express Air Freight: Express air freight involves the shipment of goods via express carriers such as DHL, FedEx, TNT, or UPS. It is typically used for time-sensitive shipments that require expedited delivery. Express air freight can be further classified into the following categories:

  • Same-day delivery: This service involves the pickup and delivery of a shipment on the same day.
  • Overnight delivery: This service involves the pickup and delivery of a shipment overnight.
  • Two-day delivery: This service involves the pickup and delivery of a shipment within two business days.
  • Economy delivery: This service involves the pickup and delivery of a shipment within a specified timeframe at a lower cost than other express services.

DocShipper Advice: For time-sensitive shipments, air freight is the best option. In fact, for shipments under 2 CBM, air freight can often be just as cost-effective, if not more so, than sea freight. To find the optimal solution for your needs, simply complete our online form, and we'll collaborate with you every step of the way.

How much does it cost to ship merchandise from China to South Korea via air?

The weight-to-volume ratio is multiplied by the cost per kilogram to determine the taxable weight. This is what will ultimately determine to price.

The theoretically necessary IATA fee may be lessened dependent on volume. Based on weight classifications, the degressive duty changes depending on the origin nation. The minimal rate is used when the shipment has a tiny volume and weight.

There is a distinction between the volumetric weight and the so-called gross weight, which is calculated when the products are weighed (measured when the dimensions are taken into account). To decide on a price, the more significant of the two values will be utilized.

Rail freight from China to South Korea

Transport by train from China to South Korea

The history of railway transportation between China and South Korea dates back to the early 1900s, when Korea was under Japanese occupation. During this time, Japan built a railway network connecting Korea to China's northeast provinces. However, after the end of World War II, the Korean peninsula was divided into two, and the railways were cut off.

In recent years, there have been efforts to revive railway transportation between China and South Korea. In 2014, the two countries agreed to connect their railway networks, which would enable cargo and passengers to travel directly between the two countries. The project involved the construction of a 230-kilometer railway line between the northeastern Chinese city of Hunchun and the North Korean port city of Rajin, which would then connect to South Korea via a sea route.

How long does it take to travel by train from China?

The transportation of cargo by train from China to South Korea can take around 2-3 days. The main railway route connecting China and South Korea is the Gyeongui Line, which runs from the Chinese city of Dandong to the South Korean city of Incheon.

The Gyeongui Line has been in operation since 1904 and was originally built by Japan to transport coal and other natural resources from the Korean Peninsula to Japan. Today, it is used to transport a variety of goods, including electronics, machinery, and textiles, between China and South Korea.

DocShipper Advice: If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us, and we strongly encourage you to read our dedicated page Rail freight.

Door-to-door service between China and South Korea

Our daily door-to-door service is highly regarded by our clients and is offered to them. In actuality, we manage the whole process. Everything from the packaging to the loading, palletizing, customs procedures, import/export fees, and delivery (unpacking and unloading if necessary also). We go door-to-door once a week in dozens of countries.

Our partners, whether in China or elsewhere, are well-established companies with whom we have worked for many years. This is a chance to save money and time.

At DocShipper, we are experts in providing door-to-door delivery services that cater to all of your logistics requirements. Our comprehensive services encompass a range of tasks such as packaging, storage, loading and unloading, customs clearance, international freight, trucking, and more. Allow us to take care of all your logistics needs with our reliable and efficient services.

Customs clearance for goods imported

This section provides an overview of the customs procedures that need to be followed when importing goods from China to South Korea.

Customs clearance is the process of verifying and approving imported goods by the customs authorities of a country. The customs clearance process for importing goods from China to South Korea may vary depending on the specific requirements and regulations of the importing country.

One of the key aspects of the customs clearance process is the payment of duties and taxes, which is essential to understand. Therefore, we will guide you through the process step by step.

How to calculate customs duties and taxes?

You must be informed of the rate of customs fees as well as the various taxes that may be levied on the goods you intend to import to prevent unpleasant surprises.

Determine the products' "HS code" or tariff species

The three pillars that will lead to the amount to be paid for customs clearance are the origin, customs value, and lastly the HS code.

Over 95 percent of global trade is covered by the Harmonized System (HS Code), which is adopted by 207 nations. For the nations that adopt it, the system gives a single, systematic classification. Each item has its own unique code.

An HS code is made up of the following components

hs code pineapple

Does DocShipper charge customs duties?

At DocShipper, we do not make any profit on customs taxes, as we act as a middleman and pay the customs directly. We do not collect taxes; instead, it is the government that collects them. We provide our clients with all the official documents necessary to ensure complete transparency in the process.

Customs procedures and contact


Required documents

When importing goods, several documents are required to ensure smooth customs clearance. Here are the essential documents that you need:

  1. Bill of Lading: This document verifies the receipt of particular goods and permits their transportation to a designated destination for delivery to the recipient specified in the document. It serves as proof of the transportation contract and as a receipt for the goods
  2. Packing List: This document must include essential details such as the issuer, invoice number, quantity and type of packages, and description of the goods. This information must align with the bill of lading. The Packing List, Weight List, and Measurement List are supplementary commercial invoices that provide a comprehensive breakdown of the packaging, specifications, colors, and weights of the goods.
  3. Certificate of Origin: This document is used to verify the place of manufacture or origin of the goods. It typically includes information such as the name and address of the importer and exporter, the transportation method and route, the commodity mark and number, and details about the commodity such as its name, quantity, and weight.
  4. Documents of Conformity: The Declaration of Conformity (DOC) is a formal statement provided by the responsible party, indicating compliance with the CE Directive and corresponding harmonized standards. It is based on a conformity assessment, which may include a test report or certificate of conformity for the product.

Restricted and Prohibited Products

Importers must be aware of the products that are restricted or prohibited in South Korea to avoid wasting time and resources. It is essential to check with the relevant authorities to ensure that the products you want to import are legal.

Cooperation relationship between China and South Korea

China and South Korea have a strong cooperation relationship in the field of logistics. The two countries have a long history of economic and trade ties, and their proximity makes them ideal partners for logistics cooperation.

In recent years, China has become a major trading partner for South Korea, and there has been a significant increase in trade volumes between the two countries. This has resulted in a growing demand for logistics services, including transportation, warehousing, and customs clearance.

Chinese logistics companies have been actively expanding their operations in South Korea, while Korean logistics companies have also been investing in China. In addition, there are numerous joint ventures between Chinese and Korean logistics companies, which are focused on providing comprehensive logistics solutions to customers in both countries.

One of the key factors driving logistics cooperation between China and South Korea is the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) launched by China. The BRI aims to enhance connectivity and cooperation between countries in the region and includes investments in infrastructure, trade, and logistics.

As a result of the BRI, there has been a significant increase in trade volumes between China and South Korea, and this has led to the development of new logistics routes and services. For example, the China-Korea Railway Express, a rail freight service between China and South Korea, has become an important logistics link between the two countries.

Other logistics DocShipper services

warehousing icon

packing services

transport insurance

sourcing services

3PL services

moving services

DocShipper Advise : We help you with the entire sourcing process so don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions!

  • Having trouble finding the appropriate product?¬†Enjoy our¬†sourcing services, we directly find the right suppliers for you!
  • You don't trust your supplier?¬†Ask our experts to do¬†quality control¬†to guarantee the condition of your goods!
  • Do you need help with the logistics?¬†Our¬†international freight department¬†supports you with door to door services!
  • You don't want to handle distribution?¬†Our¬†3PL department¬†will handle the storage, order fulfillment, and last-mile delivery!


DocShipper China | Procurement - Quality control - Logistics


Alibaba, Dhgate, made-in-china... Many know of websites to get supplies in Asia, but how many have come across a scam ?! It is very risky to pay an Asian supplier halfway around the world based only on promises! DocShipper offers you complete procurement services integrating logistics needs: purchasing, quality control, customization, licensing, transport...

Communication is important, which is why we strive to discuss in the most suitable way for you!

Subscribe to DocShipper’s Weekly Newsletter