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Container Shipping to Spain

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Updated on 29 Aug 20229 min read

Spain is a big player in the import and export industry, working with booming countries and economies in the trade business. It has good trade relations with countries such as the United States, Italy, China, France, and Germany, importing an average of $338.6 billion worth of goods a year.

If you are looking into importing your products and touching the market in Spain, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we discuss everything you need to know about shipping containers to Spain, including your options for container shipping, the average cost and duration of your shipment, customs clearance requirements, process to follow, and more!

What are your options for container shipping to Spain?

To ship a container to Spain, your cargo will need to be transported by sea. Ocean freight gives you two shipping options: less than container load (LCL) and full container load (FCL).

Less than Container Load (LCL) to Spain

In less than container load shipping, your goods will be shipped with cargo belonging to other sellers, consolidated in one container. Your goods share the space of a unit with other consignments, making LCL an economical option, as long as you are shipping in small quantities or goods that don’t occupy more than half of a standard unit.

Full Container Load (FCL) to Spain

Full container load shipping, on the other hand, is a more exclusive way of shipping your goods to Spain. Best for large, bulky, heavy, and oversized cargo, FCL ships your goods in isolation. You pay for the space of an entire unit without having to share it with other sellers. However, because of that, FCL may be a tad more expensive than LCL, but you get to enjoy exclusivity as well as a faster transit time.

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

Shipping a container to Spain doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all rate. The cost of shipments would differ depending on a variety of factors, including:

  • 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.)

To get a more accurate rate for your shipment, you can ask your freight forwarder to provide you with a quote.

What type of cargo can be sent in a container?

Because container shipping is done by sea, you are not bound by a lot of limitations when it comes to the goods that you can send. Ocean freight can accommodate almost any type of goods, whether small foodstuff and appliances to large-scale goods like vehicles and industrial machinery. There are fewer restrictions on ocean freight compared to air freight.

However, you should be aware of the prohibited and restricted goods for import in Spain. The country might have special rules regarding specific goods, either they are not allowed in the country or require additional licenses. Doing your due diligence will help you with customs clearance and ensure a smooth shipping process.

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

The transit time of your shipment to Spain will differ, depending on how far your origin is from Spain, the mode of shipment you select, as well as if your ship is direct or has multiple stops. On average, you can expect your cargo to arrive in Spain within 20 to 52 days.

Here are some estimated transit times arranged according to country of origin:

Country of Origin|LCL Transit Time|FCL Transit Time| ------- | ---------------- | ---------------- |----------: Australia|38 days|47 days China|27 to 52 days|23 to 41 days India||22 to 39 days Indonesia||24 to 31 days Singapore||20 days Thailand||38 days United Arab Emirates||28 to 29 days United States|25 to 42 days|22 to 42 days

What container capacity do I need for my cargo?

Shipping containers come in a range of sizes. The smallest ones are 20 feet long while the largest ones span up to 45 feet. Below are the available container capacity options:

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

The size of the container you should choose would depend on the mode of shipment you select and the particulars of your cargo.

If you select LCL as your ocean freight shipment option, we recommend that your cargo does not exceed half the capacity of a standard unit. This is for economical purposes. If your cargo occupies more than half of a standard unit, it might be more advantageous to simply select FCL as your shipping option.

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

You have a decision to make when it comes to the mode of ocean freight you should select. When you are making your choice, consider the particulars of your cargo as well as your priorities. We help you decide with the pointers below.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to Spain

LCL shipping is the best for cargo that is:

  • Small in size and quantity
  • Delicate, perishable, and fragile
  • Capable of withstanding frequent movement and handling
  • Suitable for consolidation with other cargo
  • Not required urgently.

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to Spain

On the other hand, FCL might be a better option for you if your cargo is:

  • Large, bulky, oversized, or heavy
  • Fragile, delicate, or perishable
  • More suitable for isolated shipping
  • Not suited for frequent movement or handling
  • Expected in Spain within the shortest period of time possible excluding air freight.

Break Bulk

Cargo that does not fit in a standard container may be shipped via break bulk. In this mode of shipment, your goods will be shipped separately instead of in one container.

Customs Clearance in Spain

All goods that are shipped to Spain need to be cleared by the Spanish customs authorities before they can enter the country. Customs clearance can be a breeze, as long as you prepare the correct and complete paperwork. These include:

  • 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

We have a full documents list you can take a look at to see the required documents as well as some examples.

Which Incoterms would be the right choice for my shipment?

Incoterms dictate your responsibilities as well as liabilities throughout the shipping process. Knowing which ones you should use are crucial to protecting both you and your buyer.

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 Spain

To ship a container to Spain, we recommend that you engage the services of a reliable freight forwarder who has the experience to help you with your shipping needs. Working with a freight forwarder can go a long way to ensuring a smooth and successful shipping experience.

If you select LCL as your mode of shipment, your goods will undergo consolidation. FCL shipments do not go through this process. Once the goods have been arranged in the container freight station, they are put through the fumigation process to eliminate insects, pests, and other harmful organisms.

When your cargo arrives in Italy, the deconsolidation process will commence. All goods then go to customs clearance, which is a quick process if the required documents are submitted and available to the customs authorities.

The goods that are cleared for import can be picked up from the port. For shipments that have unique movement types, such as door-to-door or port-to-door services, they will be delivered to the nominated destination.

Main container ports of arrival in Spain


The port of Valencia holds a spot as one of the busiest ports in the world, ranking 29th in the global list. It’s a major European port as well, especially in the sector of containerized goods. The port is located near the Valencia airport and has access to roads that allow quick distribution. It has a 12-kilometer long quay side and a kilometer of container storage space.

Owned By: Port Authority of Valencia Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: ESVLC


The port of Barcelona is the third-largest port in Spain and the ninth-busiest cargo facility in the entire Europe. It has two freight terminals for international shipping, as well as 17 container cranes. In 2017, the port of Barcelona was the fastest-growing seaport in Europe.

Owned By: Puerto del Estado Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: ESBCN


The port of Algeciras is the third-busiest port in the Mediterranean. It is located in the south coast of Spain, near the area of Gibraltar. The Algeciras port is considered a benchmark for logistic excellence, housing two terminals for container shipping.

Owned By: Autoridad Portuaria de la Bahía de Algeciras Annual Container Volume: >4.5 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: ESALG

Why Ship a Container to Spain With Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight is your reliable digital-first freight forwarder offering you the best freight services coupled with the convenience of modern technology. We have an intuitive website where you can manage the entire shipping process with ease and convenience. Our digital platform allows you to:

  • Book shipments
  • Get quick quotes
  • Compare prices
  • Track shipments
  • Pay for consignments
  • And more

By working with us, you also get access to 24/7 customer service, a simplified shipping process, advice on international rules and regulations, as well as assistance in preparing the right documentation for your shipment. Get started with us today. Receive your FREE quote here.

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