China Delivery Services 101; How to Send or Receive Packages

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China delivery 101

This is the first in a series of how-to guides for using China’s courier system. We intend to follow this with more in-depth articles explaining more; if you would like to know something specific regarding China delivery services, please write and tell us.

China delivery is mega business these days, what has resulted is a rather pleasant China Post Office redundancy effect. Gone are the days when one dreads their trip down to the local and most difficult China Post Office in order to send or receive a package. No more waiting for hours on end in a smoke-filled, cold and damp room, while our box of Fuzimiao trinkets is inspected top to tail and sniggered at by a snail of a man in a Zhongshan jacket; while our Christmas cards are being translated badly, or getting enraged with the smirking officer who declares that half of your valuables cannot be sent home “just because”.

If I had 1 Mao for every time a foreigner relayed a China Post nightmare to me, I’d be able to take it all down to the equally frustrating Bank of China and cash it in for some pretty pink notes. Those days are long gone and good riddance! For what has followed is a fast and efficient system streamlined for those whose business relies heavily on competent delivery.

Here at the Nanjinger, we often get told by local expats that they “cannot” send packages either domestically or abroad by themselves because they don’t know how, or are convinced they “won’t” be able to. This simply is not the case. It indeed may be a little daunting at first, but like anything, if you’ve done it once, every other time is a breeze.

This guide is intended for those new to China and with limited Chinese, or for those who aren’t so new to China who might also find this useful.

The word ‘delivery’ in Chinese is kuàidì (快递).

China Delivery Companies

  • S.F.(顺丰速运) S.F. Express; Shùnfēng Sùyùn (known as Shùnfēng kuàidì) 025 – 95338

At present S.F. is by far superior to the rest. The company not only dominates the domestic industry but has also set up in the United States and Australia, among other countries, offering fast access in and out of China. Being much cheaper, it is also a great alternative to the likes of DHL or Fedex for sending important documents home.

The following four services all have good reputations for domestic use, and are used frequently in Nanjing:

  • ZTO(中通快递) Zhongtong Express; Zhōng tōng kuàidì 025 – 95311
  • YTO(圆通速递) Yuantong Express; Yuántōng sùdì 025 – 95554
  • STO(申通快递) Shengtong Express; Shēntōng kuàidì 025 – 95543
  • BES(百世汇通) Best Express; Bǎishì huìtōng 400 956 5656

The following four are lesser known services:

  • UC Express(优速快递)Excellent Speed Courier; Yōu sù kuàidì 025 – 95349
  • TTK Express(天天快递)Daily Express; Tiāntiān kuàidì 400 188 8888
  • ZJS Express(宅急送快运)Home Delivery Express; Zháijísòng kuàiyùn 400 6789 000
  • Yunda Express(韵达快递)YunDa Delivery; Yùndá kuàidì 025 – 95546

Sending and Receiving Packages

Most small domestic packages should cost no more than ¥12 to send. China delivery services also have a tracking service, which you can either use via the company’s own APP, or by using the APP “Càiniǎo Guǒ Guǒ” (菜鸟裹裹) that bundles many kuadi service providers together.

Most people in China live in a “xiao qu” (gated community complex). While the communities vary from place to place, one can be certain that there will be an office of some sort, somewhere in the community, that is receiving everyone’s packages. In the bigger complexes, there may well be several. This office will also provide the service of sending your packages for you. If you are unsure of where yours is, the best person to ask is a security guard; he will lead the way.

Most of the time, this office will collect a small fee from the China delivery companies for handling the packages. Other times; the office may charge the residents this fee. More and more, we are seeing the installation of self pick up package lockers within complexes, provided by companies to communities. Simply enter the password that has been sent to your phone and the locker will open.

Most companies these days have their own APP or mini program inside WeChat, it is advisable to familiarise yourself with these. Arranging everything you need for your packages can be done through the APPs. If you choose to send your delivery yourself, then you may need some basic Chinese, or ask a friend to help you do it. After you have summoned the delivery person to your address, the process is as easy as waiting for the knock on the door and paying the fee, which can be done using any type of payment.

If you are not so confident with your Chinese, it is suggested you find your community’s kuaidi office. Take your parcel down to the office; they will ask you what it is, after which they will weigh it. You will then be given a quote for how much it should cost, at which point it is a good idea to exchange WeChat contacts so as to help with further communication after you leave the office.

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Renée Gray Beaumont
As an Australian journalist living in Nanjing for many years, Renée Gray Beaumont has a background in research, print and online publishing, taking great pleasure in discovering more about Nanjing with every article. 作为在南京居住多年的澳大利亚新闻工作者,Renee Gray Beaumont 有着调研以及印刷品和线上出版物的工作背景。她总是乐于在每篇文章里发现关于南京的内容。