Shipping purchases from China

Jul 14th, 2009, 02:41 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 9
Shipping purchases from China

As the baggage allowance on internal flights in China is only 20 kg. and I would like to do some shopping and I will unfortunately already be carrying papers from a conference I am attending in Manila, I would be grateful for any advice/shared experiences from anyone who has shipped stuff that they bought (not commercial merchandise in large quantities) from China and/or Hong Kong. Is it easy to send parcels by post or is it better to pack a suitcase and send by air freight? Other ideas also welcome. Thank you
bzetraveller is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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Noting in passing that the limit for the whole planet is 20kg, save some flights into and out of North America, the answer is that it is easy to send parcels from either place.

In the case of mainland China you need to arrive at the post office with the parcel open so the contents can be inspected. Larger (and many smaller) post offices have boxes of various sizes for sale, and some have packing services. The parcel can be registered (with tracking) for a small extra fee, which is worth paying.

Here's a table of parcel rates from mainland China:

Peter N-H
PeterN_H is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 06:34 PM
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Assuming you can get all your baggage to Hong Kong with the PRC baggage restrictions, it would be quite easy to send a package from Hong Kong. I have over the years shipped many items to the US by post in fairly large-sized boxes. (Christmas gifts, returning items ordered through US catalogs, etc). Hong Kong Post is quite reliable. You can register and insure the items as well. Surface is the slowest and a little bit cheaper than air, surprising not that much cheaper, so air may be a good option. I think 40 kg is the largest parcel they will accept. For an idea of shipping costs, go to, click on English and then rates in the left-hand column. You can also see post office locations. Hong Kong Post will even sell you the boxes and everything else to make up a package. Their main post office is on the waterfront on Hong Kong Island about 300 yards from the Star Ferry pier, but there are other locations, including up on the Peak.

I would suggest that you ship your clothes and not items you have purchased. If you ship items you purchased overseas, you may have to pay US customs duty on them, as items that do not accompany you ARE NOT included in the $800 per person duty-free allowance for returning US citizens. Only items you actually carry in with you are included in this exemption. However, used personal items being shipped as unaccompanied baggage are not dutiable. So box up your dirtly clothes and shop those, and take the souvenirs in your luggage.

I have shipped luggage once via an air freight handler from Hong Kong. You have to take the bags to the airport. It then arrives at an airport near your home and you have to go collect it after the freight forwarder has cleared it through customs. It was fairly inexpensive, but kind of a hassle, IMO. (For example, the freight forwarder I chose used JFK so the bags had to go there, rather than to Newark Airport which would have been much more convenient for me, and it goes to the air freight offices, not the passenger terminal, and finding the place in the labyrinth the industrial area of Queens around JFK was not a lot of fun.) I have to say I did this before 9/11 and so have no idea if the process has become more cumbersome. I found the air freight forwarders in the Yellow Pages in Hong Kong, you might try your hotel, or a Google search.

I would note in passing that I would not agree that the “worldwide” limit on airline checked baggage is 20 kg. First of all, anyone flying in Business or First class has a higher allowance, which may be the case with the OP’s international flights. Secondly, people belonging to mileage programs also can take advantage of higher baggage allowances. And then a random search of airlines I know permit the following allowances in economy class:

Emirates: 30 kg Hong Kong to London
Jet Airways: 28 kgs India to Europe
Kingfisher: 25 kg for all flights to Europe and all flights within India, any flight from Dubai has a 30 kg allowance
Lufthansa: for long-haul flights, 2 pieces at 23 kilos each unless journey is to/from Brazil and Japan and certain countries in which case allowance is 2 pieces at 32 kilos each
Korean Airlines: 23 kg for any flight within the Asia-Pacific region
Cicerone is offline  
Jul 14th, 2009, 07:01 PM
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> I would note in passing that I would not agree that the “worldwide” limit on airline checked baggage is 20 kg. First of all, anyone flying in Business or First class has a higher allowance, which may be the case with the OP’s international flights.

The limit isn't 20kg for anyone flying in business or first domestically in China either. But it's the OP's limit in China which suggests he's not a business flyer, the limit for most people on most flights planet-wide, and exceptions to that not only for business class but for frequent flyer status regardless of class flown (also not mentioned) are well understood. The aim was obviously not to give a detailed analysis of airline practice, which, however, for most people on most flights globally except in and out of North America, is to allow 20kg, as stated.
PeterN_H is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 04:07 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 9
Many thanks to you both for the very useful suggestions. I am also now considering leaving a suitcase with my hotel in Hong Kong (assuming the hotel agrees) before making my 10-day China visit. This would allow me to travel much lighter and I can collect it on my return to Hong Kong en route back to the US when I will have a more generous baggage allowance traveling business class. Thanks again.
bzetraveller is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Jul 2005
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Isn't 20 kg 44 lbs? A decent allowance.

I'll be visiting China too, starting in Hong Kong and am wondering what would be worthwhile purchasing there? Jade? Silk? I really don't expect to do much shopping unless there is something special that I don't know about.
Luisah is offline  
Jul 18th, 2009, 12:02 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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WARNING: I got burned by buying commercial merchandise overseas, and the merchant shipped it freight and it was a DISASTER. If you ship it freight (by ship, not via post office), you may have the same problems whether it is commercial or not. We had prepaid the merchant for the cost of the items plus all shipping and handling, but when the freiight arrived in the US, the US freight forwarder tacked on all sorts of additional charges none of which had been disclosed in advance, for a one cubic meter crate. THis added hundreds of dollars to our cost!!!
cmlong is offline  
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