Shipping from China to Sri Lanka

Efficient Shipping from China to Sri Lanka: Air and Sea Freight Options

China and Sri Lanka have a long history of trade relations, with shipping routes facilitating the exchange of goods between the two countries. As Sri Lanka’s largest trading partner, China accounts for over $4 billion in annual trade value. Sri Lanka also occupies a strategic location along major East-West shipping routes, making it a convenient transshipment hub for cargo between China and destinations across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. With the increase in trade fueled by China’s Belt and Road Initiative and the rise of Chinese investment in Sri Lankan infrastructure, optimizing shipping logistics from China to Sri Lanka is essential.

As you seek to understand the shipping process, it’s important to recognize that this route is utilized for a broad range of goods, catering to the diverse demands of consumers and businesses in Sri Lanka. The robust manufacturing base in China provides a vast array of products, making it a primary source for Sri Lankan importers.

This article will illuminate the intricate shipping process from China to Sri Lanka.

Overview of Trade Relations between China and Sri Lanka

China and Sri Lanka have long-standing historical and cultural ties dating back over 2,000 years. Ancient trade exchanges occurred along the Maritime Silk Road. Bilateral trade has grown steadily, reaching $6.2 billion in 2021. China has invested over $12 billion in Sri Lanka under its Belt and Road Initiative, focusing on infrastructure like ports, airports, roads, and power plants. Major Chinese-funded projects include Hambantota Port, Colombo Port City, Southern Expressway, and Norochcholai Coal Power Plant.

YearTotal Trade ValueAnnual Change
2017$4.4 billion+12.3%
2018$5.1 billion+16.2%
2019$5.5 billion+7.8%
2020$5.1 billion-7.3%
2021$6.2 billion+21.6%

Types of Goods Transported Between China and Sri Lanka

China and Sri Lanka have a complementary trading relationship, with China exporting mainly manufactured goods and machinery, while Sri Lanka exports agricultural commodities, textiles, and precious stones. The critical goods transported between the two countries are:

Main Exports from China to Sri Lanka

  • Machinery and electronics
    • Telecom equipment, computers, construction machinery
    • Accounts for over 50% of Chinese exports to Sri Lanka
  • Vehicles
    • Cars, trucks, motorcycles
    • Sri Lanka has no domestic auto manufacturing industry
  • Chemicals and steel
    • Fertilizers, industrial chemicals, steel rods
    • Used as raw materials by Sri Lankan factories
  • Other goods
    • Plastic goods, medical equipment, paper, toys
Type of Good% of Total Chinese Exports to Sri Lanka

Main Exports from Sri Lanka to China

  • Tea and spices
    • Ceylon black tea, cinnamon, pepper
    • Highly sought after in China
  • Apparel and textiles
    • Clothing, fabric, yarn
    • Take advantage of cheap labor in Sri Lanka
  • Precious stones and jewelry
    • Gems, diamonds, silver items
    • Sri Lanka is a leading exporter globally
  • Other goods
    • Rubber, coconut products, seafood
Type of Good% of Total Sri Lankan Exports to China
Tea & spices17%
Apparel & textiles15%
Gems & jewellery13%

Companies shipping goods between the two countries need to consider proper packaging, labeling, and storage and comply with import/export regulations based on the product.

Shipping Options from China to Sri Lanka

Shipping Options from China to Sri Lanka

China and Sri Lanka have frequent direct air and ocean freight connections. Companies can choose the shipping mode that best suits their cargo type, volume, and delivery timeline.

Air Freight between China and Sri Lanka

Air freight provides the fastest transit times for urgent or high-value cargo:

  • Airports: Major airports include Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu in China, and Colombo in Sri Lanka
  • Airlines: China Southern, China Eastern, Sichuan Airlines, SriLankan Airlines
  • Transit time: 2-5 days depending on origin/destination
  • Cost: $5-$10 per kg, 2-3 times sea freight rates
  1. Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo – Multiple airlines provide connections on this route, including China Eastern, Sri Lankan Airlines, etc. Flight time is approximately 14 hours.
  2. Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport to Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo – Operated by carriers like China Eastern Airlines, with departures every 1-2 days and flight time of around 5 hours 35 minutes.
  3. Beijing Capital International Airport to Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo – Air China and Sri Lankan Airlines fly this route with around 15 hours and 50 minutes of journey time.
  4. Chengdu Tianfu International Airport to Bandaranaike International Airport Colombo – A new direct route launched by Air China with a flight duration of about 9 hours.
  • Advantages: Fast transit, reliability, security for valuable cargo
  • Disadvantages: High cost, weight/size limits per shipment

Sea Freight between China and Sri Lanka

Ocean transport is cheaper for heavy or high-volume cargo:

  • Ports: Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Xiamen in China and Colombo, Hambantota in Sri Lanka
  • Shipping lines: COSCO, China Shipping, Evergreen Marine, OOCL
  • Transit time: 7-15 days depending on port
  • Cost: $1-2 per kg, cheaper than air freight
  1. Three primary maritime routes connect China to Sri Lanka – the Pacific route, the Atlantic route, and the Indian Ocean route. The Indian Ocean route enables access from China to East Africa, the Persian Gulf, Western Europe, and North America via the Cape of Good Hope.
  2. Key ports between China and Southeast Asia/South Asia include Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong in China and Colombo port in Sri Lanka. Major shipping companies on these routes include COSCO, OOCL, Evergreen Marine, etc.
  3. The maritime Silk Road connecting China to Southeast Asia and beyond runs via Colombo port in Sri Lanka towards Africa and Europe. This indicates Colombo is a strategic transshipment hub on the route.
  4. Shipping routes from China to the Middle East and India/Pakistan also transit via Colombo port, Sri Lanka.
  • Advantages: Low cost for heavy/large volume cargo
  • Disadvantages: Slow transit times, less security against loss/damage

Shipping Costs, Regulations, and Documentation

Shipping Costs, Regulations, and Documentation

Shipping goods from China to Sri Lanka involves crossing international borders, which requires proper documentation and compliance with trade regulations. Assessing and comparing rates and options offered by different shipping providers and platforms is advisable to secure the best deal and shipping services from China to Sri Lanka.

Indicative Pricing Estimates for Air and Sea Freight

  • Air freight rates range from $5-$10 per kg from China to Sri Lanka, depending on route and airline.
  • Sea freight rates average around $1-2 per kg from China to Sri Lanka ports
Shipping ModeTransit TimeCost per kg
Air Freight2-5 days$5 – $10
Sea Freight10-15 days$1 – $2

Laws Governing Trade and Shipping

  • Trade is regulated under WTO agreements and bilateral treaties
  • Need to comply with import/export control laws, quotas, permits, etc.
  • Different regulations for various goods categories

Required Licenses, Permits, Quotas

  • Import/export license from Sri Lanka Customs
  • Commodity import permits from relevant ministries
  • Quotas and preferential access under trade pacts
  • Duty relief schemes like GSP, ISFTA, APTA

Customs Clearance Processes

  • Submit import declaration and shipping docs to Sri Lanka Customs
  • Pay applicable duties and taxes
  • Arrange customs inspection if required
  • Obtain clearance certificate to take delivery

Choosing Between Air Freight vs Sea Freight

When shipping goods from China to Sri Lanka, companies must evaluate the pros and cons of air freight versus sea freight to determine the best mode for their specific cargo.

Speed vs Cost Analysis

  • Air freight is faster, taking 2-5 days transit time
  • Sea freight takes 2-3 weeks but costs much less

Type and Volume of Goods Considerations

  • Air suitable for urgent, high-value, perishable goods
  • Sea economical for heavy, dense, high-volume cargo

Security and Risk Factors

  • Air freight has less handling, so there is a lower risk of damage/theft
  • Sea freight risks like piracy, cargo loss due to weather

An analysis of delivery urgency, shipment characteristics, and acceptable risk levels helps determine optimal freight mode.

Tips for Smooth China to Sri Lanka Shipping

When arranging freight transport between China and Sri Lanka, companies should follow certain best practices to ensure an efficient shipping experience:

Choose a Reliable Freight Forwarder

  • Select forwarder with extensive China-Sri Lanka experience
  • Ensure they have shipping agents at the origin/destination ports
  • Verify capabilities match cargo type (temp control, OOG)

Ensure Legal Compliance

  • Classify goods correctly and provide accurate documentation, such as a bill of lading or air waybill
  • Follow import/export regulations for restricted items
  • Arrange inspections if required

Obtain Accurate Shipping Quotes

  • Get binding all-inclusive rate quotes
  • Confirm fees for origin/destination charges, customs clearance, duties & taxes
  • Beware very low quotes that seem too good to be true

Plan for Port Congestion Delays

  • Build a buffer into the timeline for potentially congested ports like Shanghai & Colombo
  • Track shipments closely and have contingency plans if delays occur
  • Consider faster transit routes from Xiamen, Shenzhen, or Guangzhou

Why Choose Us? Luckystar Logistic

Established in 2022, Luckystar holds a prestigious position as a member of the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and functions as a Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC). With a primary focus on serving China, the USA, Canada, and Europe, the company is dedicated to delivering superior service quality at reduced costs. Boasting a core team with over two decades of logistics experience, Luckystar brings significant expertise to the forefront. Since its inception, the company has been unwavering in its commitment to providing global door-to-door transport and logistics solutions, emphasizing dependability, adaptability, and responsiveness.

A freight forwarder is often hired in international freight. We help to:

  • Arrange cargo transportation via air and ocean. 
  • Handle shipping documentation such as bills of lading, customs paperwork, certificates of origin, invoices, packing lists, etc. 
  • Coordinate customs clearance activities like duties/tax payments on the client’s behalf. 
  • Optimize logistics using our route knowledge and relationships to balance cost, speed, and reliability. We advise on the best transport options.

We hope this article has provided valuable insights to assist you in determining the best way to ship cargo from China to Sri Lanka. If you have any further questions or require additional information, please feel free to contact us!