Is it worth considering sea transport from China to Hamburg?

Update date:
08 Dec 2023
Date of publication:
08 Dec 2023
Reading time: 3 minutes

In recent years, China has become a major player in global trade, with its exports accounting for more than 12% of world exports. Goods from China are mainly transported to Europe by sea. For importers from Poland, the goods mostly go to Gdansk. However, some importers opt for sea transport to Hamburg, where the goods are then transported to Poland. Today we will take a closer look at imports from China via Hamburg. 

Transport time from China to Hamburg - faster than to Gdansk 

Transport from China to Hamburg is usually a few days faster than transport to Gdansk/ Gdynia. The shortest time is exactly 32 days. 

More expensive road haulage from Hamburg to Poland 

It is also important to bear in mind that once the container arrives in Poland, we will have to deliver the container to Poland. The cost of delivery to Hamburg will in many cases be much more expensive than transport from Gdansk / Gdynia. It is advisable to check the cost of collection from Hamburg directly with the carrier and make sure that this option will be beneficial for your location. 

Below is the route from Gdańsk to Zielona Góra and from Hamburg to Zielona Góra. 

 LCL general cargo to Hamburg 

For LCL cargo, transport to Hamburg will practically always come out less favourably priced than transport to Gdansk. Port costs in Hamburg, the cost of customs clearance and collection will be more expensive than the same costs in Poland. 

Customs clearance in Hamburg - less restrictive than in Poland? 

The biggest benefit of importing goods from China before Hamburg is more efficient customs clearance. Usually, clearance takes much less time and some goods that would have problems with customs clearance in Poland in Hamburg can be cleared smoothly and without complications. This is all due to the greater leniency of German officials. 

Some importers ordering a particular commodity, which often involves searches and inspections in Poland, can pass clearance in Germany without any problem. This is particularly important when one wants a smooth delivery and any withholding of goods causes difficulties.

Fiscal clearance in Hamburg

An important reason why some importers choose to transport from China via Germany is fiscal clearance in Germany. Clearance of goods in this way postpones the payment of VAT, often until such time as we have managed to liquidate the goods. Using this option helps to maintain greater liquidity for the company. 


In summary, if we are importing standard goods that do not have frequent problems with customs clearance, however, in most cases sea transport to Gdansk or Gdynia will be more advantageous. In case of clearance problems, opting for transport to Hamburg can significantly improve clearance. Sometimes, in the case of favourable offers for sea freight to Hamburg, it can be more cost-effective to import by this route. In some cases, very favourable offers are available and even taking into account the more expensive port, clearance and return costs, the cost advantage is still greater. Everything should be checked on an ongoing basis with the shipping company you are working with. It is also worth paying attention to fiscal clearance in Germany, which can help us to maintain better liquidity. 

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