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Container Shipping to Italy

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Updated on 29 Aug 20228 min read

Italy is a big player in the import and export industry, partnering up with an industry giant, the United States. Being the U.S.’ 12th most important trade partner, Italy imports various commodities, including healthcare and medicine.

If you are planning to ship a container to Italy, you need to be aware of everything involved in the shipping process. In this article, we outline all there is to know, including your options for container shipping, estimated shipping cost and transit time, Incoterms, and customs clearance, as well as some tips when choosing your mode of ocean freight.

What are your options for container shipping to Italy?

Shipping a container to Italy requires ocean freight shipping services. You still have options, however. You need to choose whether to ship via less than container load (LCL) or full container load (FCL).

Less than Container Load (LCL) to Italy

In LCL shipping, your goods will be grouped or consolidated with cargo belonging to other sellers. They will be shipped together in one standard container, which means that you share the space and cost with other consignors. This is an economical option, but because your cargo would have to wait for other consignments, it may take longer for your cargo to arrive in Italy.

Full Container Load (FCL) to Italy

In contrast to LCL shipping, your goods will be shipped individually in one container. You shoulder the cost of the entire unit for your cargo to be shipped in isolation. FCL is a good option for large goods and has a faster transit time.

How much does it cost to ship a container to Italy?

There are several factors to consider to determine the cost of your container shipment to Italy, such as:

  • Type of goods you are shipping
  • Your choice of shipping service (LCL or FCL)
  • Weight of your cargo
  • Volume of your cargo
  • Distance between your port of origin and destination
  • Movement type (door-to-door, port-to-port, etc.)

Request a quote from your freight forwarder to get a more accurate estimate of your shipping costs.

What type of cargo can be sent in a container?

Ocean freight has minimal limitations when it comes to the cargo that you can ship in containers. You can ship anything from small goods, foodstuff, and toys to larger items like cars, equipment, and machinery. However, you need to make yourself aware of the restricted and prohibited goods in Italy to prevent problems with customs clearance.

How long does it take to ship a container to Italy?

Shipping to Italy can take anywhere from 2 to 51 days, depending on factors such as your country of origin, whether you choose FCL or LCL shipping, and if your ship is direct or has multiple stops.

The longest route is from Oakland, the USA to Genoa, Italy, which can take up to 51 days. The shortest route, on the other hand, is from Barcelona to Genoa, which only takes 2 days at most.

What container capacity do I need for my cargo?

Containers in ocean freight come in various different sizes, including:

  • 20-foot - 33.2 CBM
  • 40-foot regular - 63.5 CBM
  • 40-foot high cube - 76.4 CBM
  • 45-f00t high cube - 86 CBM

If you select LCL as your mode of shipment, it’s recommended that your goods do not occupy more than half of the container. Otherwise, it would be more economical and advantageous to simply select FCL as your mode of shipment.

On the other hand, FCL shipping has no limitations when it comes to the size and volume of your cargo. You can ship small cargo in a container or large, oversized goods. This is because you have the entire container to yourself.

Which mode of ocean shipping should I choose, FCL, LCL, or Break Bulk?

Selecting the right mo\ de of ocean freight is important to ensure that you have a smooth and cost-advantageous shipping experience. Below, we help you make the decision.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to Italy

LCL is the right mode of ocean freight for you if your cargo:

  • Is small in size and quantity
  • Is not delicate, fragile, or perishable
  • Can withstand frequent handling and movement
  • Can be consolidated with other cargo
  • Not needed urgently.

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to Italy

On the other hand, FCL may be a better choice if your cargo:

  • Is large, oversized, heavy, and bulky
  • Is large or voluminous
  • Is fragile, delicate, or perishable
  • Requires isolation
  • Cannot withstand frequent handling or movement
  • Is not expected in Italy at a specified time.

Break Bulk

If your goods cannot fit in a single container, your freight forwarder will recommend break bulk shipping where your goods will be separated and shipped individually.

Customs Clearance in Italy

Before your goods can be cleared for import, you need to meet the customs clearance requirements set forth by Italian customs. There is some paperwork and documents that you need to submit beforehand. This includes:

  • Commercial invoice
  • Letter of credit/ other payment terms
  • Packing list
  • Certificates of origin
  • Import licenses
  • Bill of lading or airway bill, provided by Shipa Freight

Check out our full documents list to see all the customs requirements and examples of each.

Which Incoterms would be the right choice for my shipment?

Choosing the right Incoterms for your shipment will protect you against liability in case the goods are lost to damage during shipping. Here are some Incoterms you can opt for:

Best Incoterms for Exporters

CPT (Carriage Paid To): The seller must bring the goods to the agreed destination and carry out a contract of carriage. The seller is liable until the goods have been handed to the carrier.

CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid To): Similar responsibilities as CPT, but with the added requirement on the seller’s part to obtain insurance.

DAP (Delivered At Place): The seller should deliver the goods to the buyer’s selected location and is responsible for the majority of the shipping process.

DDP (Delivery Duty Paid): The seller is responsible from the beginning to the end of the shipping process. This leaves the buyer with minimal responsibilities.

FCA (Free Carrier): The seller must deliver the goods to the carrier and shoulder the costs of customs.

Best Incoterms for Importers

FCA (Free Carrier): The seller must deliver the goods to the carrier and shoulder the costs of customs.

EXW (Ex Works): More responsibility is put on the buyer’s part, from picking up the goods at the seller’s premises or warehouse to arranging transport.

Processes to follow to ship a container to Italy

We recommend that you engage a freight forwarder to help you ship your container to Italy. Because of their expertise and experience in import and export, they can help you achieve an easier and successful shipment.

If you choose LCL as your mode of ocean freight, your goods will be consolidated in a container freight station. FCL goods do not undergo this step. However, all cargo will be fumigated upon loading, which is a process done to eliminate pests, insects, and other harmful organisms.

When the goods arrive in Italy, LCL shipments will be deconsolidated. Along with FCL shipments, all cargo will go through customs clearance. With the right documents, this process will be quick and easy.

Once the goods have been cleared for import, they can be picked up from the port of destination. Shippers who availed of a door-to-door or port-to-door movement type should wait for their cargo to be delivered.

Main container ports of arrival in Italy

La Spezia

The port of La Spezia is one of the most important ports in the Mediterranean and is the leading container port in Italy. Its quayside spans more than 5 kilometers and boasts of an abundance of rail connections.

Owned By: Port of La Spezia Port Authority Annual Container Volume: >1.4 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: ITSPE

Genoa The Port of Genoa is the busiest container port in Italy by freight tonnage and is one of the main Mediterranean ports. It has advanced logistics and forwarding services and ranks 68th in the world container throughput.

Owned By: Genoa Port Authority Annual Container Volume: >2 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: ITGOA


The port of Ancona is located near the Adriatic Coast and occupies 1.4 million square meters of land. Its container terminal is 5,000 square meters large and has facilities for container repair, container cleaning, and dangerous goods storage.

Owned By: Central Adriatic Ports Authority Annual Container Volume: >150,000 TEUs UN/LOCODE: ITAOI

Why Ship a Container to Italy With Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight can help you ship your container to Italy using our digital-first freight forwarding system. Through our digital platform, you can conduct a vast array of actions, such as getting a quote, booking a shipment, managing and tracking your cargo, and settling payments. You can also get access to 24/7 customer support!

We make shipping containers easier for you. If you’re ready to experience the Shipa Freight difference, get a FREE quote today.

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