How to Navigate International Shipping This Chinese New Year

How to Navigate International Shipping This Chinese New Year

Container ship idle at a port in ocean with view of sky

This year, the Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday is starting early and will occur from January 24 through January 30. It’s not surprising that as the world’s number one exporter celebrates its major holiday, shipping delays can be expected, in some cases, even weeks after the holiday ends.

Shipments originating or transiting through Asian ports should be booked as far in advance as possible. Understanding this year’s market dynamics, as well as what is common practice during the holiday, can better prepare importers to make the best shipping decisions to get products delivered on time. Our team has compiled key things to expect during this year’s Chinese New Year and the weeks that follow:

Why the Delays?

Many factors can contribute to shipping delays during the Chinese New Year.

  1. Carriers commonly slow down service strings due to reduced production of Chinese goods because of factory closures during the holiday. Some vessel strings will even be canceled during the weeks surrounding the holiday to balance supply and demand.
  2. This year, carriers have already been limiting capacity due to recent changes in tariffs. The tariffs have caused some sourcing to shift to other countries, especially Vienam. These modifications are having a significant impact on capacity on vessels and sometimes resulting in rolled bookings.

The combination of these two factors has made this Chinese New Year very unique.

How Do I Counteract These Delays?

So, how can importers stay ahead of the game when shipping during the next month? First, it is critical to get shipments booked by next week if freight needs to ship before the Chinese New Year, as delays can continue to occur 2-3 weeks after the holiday ends on January 30. However, most carriers encourage shipments to be booked at least three weeks in advance from the intended arrival date, especially if passing through ports in and around Vietnam.

Capacity is expected to remain tight through mid-February as shipments not sent out before the New Year are processed. As a reminder, factories and ports typically work through the backlog of shipments for a few weeks following the holiday.

If you need assistance securing your ocean or air freight shipments, contact our International team today.


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