Last Updated on June 18, 2015
Earlier this year, I mailed myself a large package from China to a foreign country. I have mailed items from China to foreign countries before this time, but never large items. It was a bit of an adventure, but I wanted to share with all of you how to do it, so you can avoid many of the mistakes I made in the process. This post will describe in detail how to mail a package from China to a foreign country.
The First Steps For Mailing
Overall, mailing something from Mainland China is fairly straightforward, but the initial steps may be difficult. Likely the cheapest way to mail a package from China is to use China Post, and this article will focus on using that state-run company.
In order to mail a package, you will need to go to a China Post office 中国邮政 (in Pinyin zhong guo you zheng). The China Post office will likely look something like the picture below.
China Post locations are often are next to Postal Savings Banks of China 中国邮政储蓄银行 (in Pinyin zhong guo you jian chu xu yin hang), and are often in central and convenient locations in big cities in China.
Important Notes Before You Mail
Not all China Post locations are able to send mail internationally. If you plan to mail something, I recommend you first do a scouting trip to actually find a China Post that can actually mail internationally. You will likely waste a lot of time and effort bringing a heavy package only to find out you either can’t find the China Post location nearest to you, or that they can’t mail it internationally from there. You will need to go and find out first if the staff at that China Post office they can mail internationally. Ask the staff where you can do it if they are not able to mail it. It may be very helpful to bring a Chinese friend along just in case you need help. Don’t expect anyone at China Post to speak English. It is possible some might know some English, but I wouldn’t plan on that happening. Knowing Mandarin is the best, but if you don’t know it, I again recommend bringing a Chinese friend with you.
Knowing The Weight Of Your Package Before You Go Is Helpful
I had a weight scale at my home, and weighed everything that I would be shipping before I went to the China Post office which made things much easier for me, and allowed me to estimate the cost better. The cost of mailing packages from Mainland China is based on weight, so the more weight, the higher the cost. I recommend that you weigh what you will ship BEFORE you mail it.
Getting To the China Post Office
When I first went to the post office with my Chinese coworker, I had all of my items that I was going to mail packed in a fairly large box, and I was expecting to use that box. It turns out that I actually didn’t need my own box. Instead, the China Post officials gave me a much better cardboard box for free.
Important Notes About The Package/Box
Do not seal your package until after the postal staff members allow you to do so. They may insist on taking everything out of your package and inspecting the items before allowing you to seal the package. If you seal the package before you go there, they may will rip it open, and possibly destroy your box.
Below is a picture of a staff member weighing my package
Bring Your Passport And Be Ready To Fill Out A Customs Form
You must bring your passport to the China Post office because they will ask for your ID, and you will have to fill out at least one customs form. You may be asked to write your passport number on one of the customs forms as I was. Depending on the province that you are mailing from, you might have to fill out an additional customs form as well. I happened to mail my package from Guangdong province, and they made me fill out a Guangdong customs form in addition to the main customs form. The customs forms will almost certainly be in English and Chinese, so if you don’t know Chinese, you could just fill it out in English. Of course, you must fill out the name and address for the receiver. You must also put down a local Chinese address in China in case they need to send it back to you. Below is a photo of the main customs form you will need to fill out
Below is a photo of the customs form in Guangdong
Paying and Weighing
In all, I paid 462.5 RMB to mail out my package after everything was done. At the time 462.5 RMB was roughly 68.09 EUR or 73.85 USD according to xe.com. I think this was a very good deal because most of the private shipping companies in my city at the time wanted at least 1000 RMB to ship my package. My package weighed in total 18.350 kilos (40.45 pounds).
Mailing a package with the China Post does come with a small amount of shipping insurance. I definitely wouldn’t mail out anything fragile or extremely important to you with the China Post. If it is extremely important to you, or fragile, I recommend that you use a foreign shipping company, or EMS.
Below is a picture of my receipt after everything was finished
Tracking Your Package
Usually, the China Post people will give you a receipt with a tracking number on it. If they don’t, you should insist on getting a receipt with a tracking number so that you can track the package. The following (in Chinese) is the official URL to track a China Post package. yjcx.chinapost.com.cn/zdxt/yjcx/. Type your tracking number in the first box, and then type in the CAPTCHA in the second box.
Receiving Your Package
I was given an estimate of about 2 months for my package to arrive at the location. I was surprised that I received it in about 1 month. Overall, the package was in fair condition on receiving it. It looked like it had been dropped numerous times, but at least acceptable. Below is a picture of my package when I received it.
Almost always, shipping via sea will be the cheapest way to mail a package from China. But, mailing by sea will probably much longer than choosing to mail via air.
In conclusion, my experience with mailing a large package from China with China Post was good. I got a fairly cheap rate, and good service. If you are willing to wait up to three months to receive a package, then China Post is probably your best bet and most cost effective way to mail things from China. Like doing many things in China, mailing something can be an adventure, but if you follow this article’s steps, I think it will be a lot easier for you. Your comments about this article are welcome below.
Excellent. Very informative information.
Thanks for the comment. I am glad that you enjoyed it.
Good info! One thing to keep in mind is that China post will not ship push bikes even if they are in a bike box. One must use a shipping company.
Interesting. I didn’t know that. Thanks for the tip!!!
A couple of supplementary details:
1. Your 462 kwai – was that for air mail or ordinary?… and, hmm, this might be more tricky… if the latter, or if anyone sends something via the latter, does it make any difference how it goes, ship or train (depending on the destination)?
2. Are there different categories of international mail, or one price fits all destinations?
3. Is the charge on a more or less linear scale; so, based on your experience, about 25 yuan/kg?
I ask these strange questions, as I will in a little while be heading from Siberia to way down saudi via a few days in Beijing. I am thinking of browsing bookshops there to bulk up my Chinese resources. However, as I will be mainly in this part of the world in the longer term, I don’t really want to take a significant load in the other direction, and don’t know if I will be stopping in China on the return. Thought of going to the PO and despatching five or ten kilos of assorted putonghua texts back here.
Good questions. Here are my answers to your questions.
1. The 462 kuai was for ordinary mail. I am not sure about Russia. But, presumably it might be easier than shipping across the ocean since Russia borders China. It would probably travel via truck or train to Russia. But, in any case, they will certainly use the cheapest methods to get it to Russia.
2. There are different categories. I don’t remember exactly what they are called, but you could pay more money to get it to your destination faster, but I just focused on the cheapest way.
3. I am not 100% sure about the scale, but, they do charge more for more weight. I am not sure if it is linear or not. I think there is a minimum price regardless of weight that they would charge, and there is probably a maximum weight they would accept. If you want to ship lots and lots of heavy stuff, it would probably be better to contact a shipping company.
Feel free to ask more questions here.
Just occurred to me: “putonghua” in the above context was silly; “text” – could as easily be written by someone writing from a Cantonese perspective.
Leave a comment