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International shipping guide from India

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Updated on 08 Nov 202214 min read


How long does it take to ship ocean freight from India to the USA? What documents must you present to customs when exporting from India? Which are the busiest international air freight routes from India?

We answer all these questions and more, here on the Shipping from India page of our Global Freight Guide. Whether you are new to commercial shipping, or are considering a trade partnership involving goods movement to or from the Indian subcontinent, you’re sure to find some useful information below.

Exporting Freight From India: The Regulatory Landscape

Before you consider the international shipment of goods from India, you will need to be clear on the rules and regulations that control export activity.

***If you choose to work with Shipa Freight, we will handle much of the compliance management for your shipments, so it’s safe to consider some of the following information as guidance only. ***

However, there are responsibilities that an international freight forwarder cannot take off your hands, including the very first step in the process, which is to obtain an Importer and Exporter Code, or IEC, from the Indian Directorate General of Foreign Trade.

If your business is the exporter in an international trading arrangement, you must have an IEC. On the other hand, if your business is the buyer, and based outside of India, you should check that your supplier has registered with the DGFT and already has an IEC. If not, you should advise them of the need for one. The IEC application is managed via an online process, and should take no more than a few days.


Key Process Steps for Shipping From India

The following documents list is not exhaustive, but outlines some of the critical steps in clearing an export order through customs in India:

  1. The seller of the goods for export must issue the buyer with a commercial invoice.
  2. A packing list must be produced, containing details of the products for shipment.
  3. The shipper (or the shipper’s international freight forwarder) must submit copies of the packing list, commercial invoice, and any other required documents to the customs authority, along with a Shipping Bill (customs declaration). It is possible to submit these documents manually using paper forms, or electronically via EDI link to the customs office.
  4. A customs officer will assess the declaration and supporting documents, and if satisfied, will issue a Let Export Order (LEO), releasing the goods for loading onto the exporting vessel or aircraft.
  5. After the cargo is loaded, the carrier or freight forwarder will raise an air waybill (for air freight) or bill of lading (for ocean freight). The buyer of the goods must receive a copy of this document, so that he or she can claim them when they arrive at the import destination.

Are Your Goods Permitted for Export From India?

An understanding of the processes for shipping internationally from India is essential for your business, but worth little if your products prove subject to export prohibitions or restrictions. Therefore, you should check if any such rulings apply before attempting to fill export orders.

If restrictions apply, it might not be the end of the road, but you may need to seek some official permission or a license before you can ship your goods out of India. On the other hand, if your products are prohibited for export, you’ll be glad you found out before you dispatched them.

Export restrictions in India apply mainly to foodstuffs and agricultural products, goods with potential military uses, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. The list is long, and some of the regulatory requirements are complex. As an example, here is an extract from the DGFT’s Export Restrictions Schedule, showing the list of restrictions applicable to the export of Basmati Rice.


On the other hand, in the case of beef and beef products, the restriction is very simple—you cannot export them from India. In short, export permissibility is one area in which you must do your homework, or have somebody do it for you, if you don’t want to risk delays or even seizure of your goods by customs officers at an Indian ocean-freight terminal or airport.

International Ocean Freight From India

With the Indian economy currently growing faster than that of any other large nation, predictions of strong growth in ocean freight, both into and out of the country, over the next few years, should come as no surprise. That in turn, should mean that there will always be plenty of freight capacity, as no ocean carrier will wish to fall behind in such a healthy market.


However, as more trade lanes open up, and more carrier services exploit existing routes, the abundance of options can become bewildering, especially for SMEs and businesses exporting from India for the first time. That’s when the services of an international shipping partner, especially one with an online platform, comes into its own.

Ocean Shipping with Shipa Freight: Useful Information

With Shipa Freight, you need only to select the mode of transport you want to use, specify whether you need port-to-port or door-to-door shipping from India, provide some details of your shipment, and let our market-leading technology find you a competitive rate. That all takes place in a few minutes and without the need to make phone calls or fax documents around the globe.

Of course, as mentioned, you do have to choose your mode of transport, and unless fast shipping is critical or you are exporting goods from India in minimal quantities, you will probably want to use an ocean freight service.

If you are researching the possibilities for ocean shipping, you’ll find some useful information in the following sections, including details of key routes from India to Europe, Asia, and the Americas, along with the approximate transit times for each.

Top Routes for Ocean Freight From India

The number of ocean freight trade lanes connecting the key Indian ports of Mundra, Nhava Sheva, Chennai, and Kolkata with destinations around the globe is substantial. Many of them are served by a range of carriers specializing in containerized-goods shipment. The busiest routes though, carry exports from India into the container terminals of East Asia.

Five of the top routes are as follows:

  • Nhava Sheva to Singapore
  • Mundra to Singapore
  • Nhava Sheva to Port Klang (Malaysia)
  • Nhava Sheva to Hong Kong
  • Nhava Sheva to Dalian (China)

Longest and Shortest Ocean Trade Lanes From India

India’s geographic location means that ocean distances to other continents are not exceptionally long, at least, not when compared to Australia or South America for example. Indeed, even routes between India and Australia involve less than 30 days of transit time. The longest routes operate between India and the United States as well as Canada. Perhaps the longest of all is the trade lane connecting Chennai with Houston in Texas, requiring a transit time of up to 50 days.

Turning to the shortest trade lanes, as you’ve already seen, routes between India and South East Asia are among the busiest for export shipments. They also happen to be some of the shortest. It takes only around four days for example, for container vessels to ply the route from Kolkata to Port Klang in Malaysia.

Ocean Trade Lanes and Transit Times for Indian Exports

Please note that all transit times shown in the list below are for your interest and general guidance only. They are not guaranteed to be precise, and your freight may be in transit for more or less time than the charts indicate.

To America

Port of Origin Destination Country Destination Port Approximate Duration
Visakhapatnam Canada Montreal 28 Days
Visakhapatnam Canada Toronto 28 Days
Chennai Canada Toronto 31 Days
Chennai Canada Montreal 30 Days
Kolkata Canada Toronto 39 Days
Kolkata Canada Montreal 38 Days
Mundra Canada Montreal 48 Days
Mundra Canada Toronto 48 Days
Nhava Sheva Canada Toronto 34 Days
Nhava Sheva Canada Montreal 26 Days
Kattupalli Canada Montreal 26 Days
Visakhapatnam United States Oakland 40 Days
Chennai United States Houston 50 Days
Kolkata United States Port Everglades 48 Days
Kattupalli United States Port Everglades 36 Days
Mundra United States Charleston 43 Days
Haldia United States Charleston 44 Days
Nhava Sheva United States Baltimore 40 Days
Visakhapatnam United States Long Beach 36 Days
Kattupalli United States Long Beach 38 Days
Chennai United States Norfolk 36 Days
Haldia United States Norfolk 39 Days
Kolkata United States Atlanta 44 Days
Haldia United States Atlanta 42 Days
Mundra United States New York 21 Days
Haldia United States New York 36 Days
Nhava Sheva United States Mobile 42 Days
Visakhapatnam United States New York 27 Days
Visakhapatnam United States Seattle 43 Days
Chennai United States New Orleans 41 Days
Kolkata United States Boston 37 days
Haldia United States Boston 36 Days
Mundra United States Mobile 42 Days
Nhava Sheva United States Oakland 43 Days
Visakhapatnam United States Jacksonville 37 Days
Haldia United States Jacksonville 42 Days
Nhava Sheva United States Savannah 25 Days
Haldia United States Savannah 42 Days
Chennai United States Atlanta 38 Days
Kolkata United States New Orleans 45 Days

To Europe

Port of Origin Destination Country Destination Port Approximate Duration
Mundra Belgium Antwerp 21 Days
Visakhapatnam Belgium Antwerp 33 Days
Chennai Belgium Antwerp 34 Days
Kolkata Belgium Antwerp 36 Days
Nhava Sheva Belgium Antwerp 32 Days
Kolkata Denmark Aarhus 41 Days
Visakhapatnam Denmark Aarhus 34 Days
Haldia Denmark Aarhus 34 Days
Kolkata Finland Helsinki 41 Days
Chennai France Fos-sur-Mer 33 Days
Mundra France Fos-sur-Mer 21 Days
Nhava Sheva France Fos-sur-Mer 22 Days
Nhava Sheva France Le Havre 33 Days
Visakhapatnam France Le Havre 37 Days
Chennai France Le Havre 39 Days
Kolkata France Le Havre 38 Days
Mundra France Le Havre 41 Days
Mundra Germany Bremerhaven 25 Days
Kolkata Germany Bremerhaven 36 Days
Mundra Germany Hamburg 23 Days
Visakhapatnam Germany Hamburg 34 Days
Chennai Germany Hamburg 36 Days
Kolkata Germany Hamburg 36 Days
Nhava Sheva Germany Hamburg 33 Days
Nhava Sheva Germany Bremerhaven 33 Days
Kolkata Greece Athinai 25 Days
Nhava Sheva Greece Athinai 16 Days
Mundra Greece Athinai 18 Days
Kolkata Italy Ancona 30 Days
Haldia Italy Ancona 29 Days
Nhava Sheva Italy Genoa 18 Days
Mundra Italy Genoa 14 Days
Haldia Italy Genoa 29 Days
Haldia Italy Venice 30 Days
Nhava Sheva Lithuania Klaipeda 39 Days
Mundra Netherlands Rotterdam 28 Days
Visakhapatnam Netherlands Rotterdam 33 Days
Chennai Netherlands Rotterdam 33 Days
Kolkata Netherlands Rotterdam 36 Days
Kolkata Norway Oslo 44 Days
Visakhapatnam Poland Gdansk 34 Days
Chennai Poland Gdansk 37 Days
Kolkata Poland Gdansk 46 Days
Mundra Poland Gdansk 39 Days
Kolkata Portugal Lisbon 43 Days
Kolkata Slovenia Koper 24 Days
Nhava Sheva Slovenia Koper 22 Days
Nhava Sheva Spain Algeciras 12 Days
Nhava Sheva Spain Barcelona 20 Days
Mundra Spain Barcelona 19 Days
Chennai Spain Valencia 34 Days
Kolkata Spain Valencia 33 Days
Mundra Spain Valencia 17 Days
Nhava Sheva Spain Valencia 20 Days
Kolkata Sweden Gothenburg 37 Days
Nhava Sheva Ukraine Odessa 27 Days
Mundra United Kingdom Grangemouth 44 Days
Visakhapatnam United Kingdom London Gateway 29 Days
Chennai United Kingdom London Gateway 31 Days
Kolkata United Kingdom London Gateway 31 Days
Mundra United Kingdom London Gateway 34 Days
Haldia United Kingdom London Gateway 29 Days
Visakhapatnam United Kingdom Felixstowe 29 Days
Chennai United Kingdom Felixstowe 31 Days
Kolkata United Kingdom Felixstowe 31 Days
Mundra United Kingdom Felixstowe 34 Days
Nhava Sheva United Kingdom Felixstowe 34 Days
Visakhapatnam United Kingdom Southampton 29 Days
Chennai United Kingdom Southampton 31 Days
Kolkata United Kingdom Southampton 31 Days
Mundra United Kingdom Southampton 34 Days
Nhava Sheva United Kingdom Southampton 36 Days
Kattupalli United Kingdom Southampton 25 Days

To Asia and Oceania

Port of Origin Destination Country Destination Port Approximate Duration
Visakhapatnam Australia Brisbane 19 Days
Chennai Australia Sydney 25 Days
Kolkata Australia Adelaide 27 Days
Mundra Australia Adelaide 31 Days
Nhava Sheva Australia Adelaide 28 Days
Chennai Australia Adelaide 25 Days
Chennai Australia Fremantle 17 Days
Kolkata Australia Fremantle 14 Days
Mundra Australia Fremantle 23 Days
Visakhapatnam Australia Melbourne 22 Days
Chennai Australia Melbourne 25 Days
Kolkata Australia Melbourne 24 Days
Mundra Australia Melbourne 28 Days
Nhava Sheva China Ningbo 27 Days
Mundra China Ningbo 25 Days
Visakhapatnam China Ningbo 21 Days
Chennai China Nansha 20 Days
Nhava Sheva China Shanghai 19 Days
Mundra China Shanghai 23 Days
Kattupalli China Shanghai 16 Days
Haldia China Shanghai 19 Days
Nhava Sheva China Qingdao 23 Days
Mundra China Qingdao 21 Days
Hazira China Qingdao 18 Days
Nhava Sheva China Xiamen 22 Days
Haldia China Xiamen 22 Days
Kattupalli China Xiamen 17 Days
Chennai China Tianjin 20 Days
Pipavav China Dalian 17 Days
Nhava Sheva China Dalian 19 Days
Mundra Hong Kong Hong Kong 15 Days
Pipavav Hong Kong Hong Kong 15 Days
Nhava Sheva Hong Kong Hong Kong 15 Days
Visakhapatnam Hong Kong Hong Kong 17 Days
Chennai Hong Kong Hong Kong 28 Days
Kolkata Indonesia Semarang 12 Days
Mundra Indonesia Belawan 13 Days
Nhava Sheva Indonesia Surabaya 22 Days
Kattupalli Indonesia Surabaya 12 Days
Visakhapatnam Indonesia Semarang 11 Days
Haldia Indonesia Semarang 11 Days
Chennai Indonesia Belawan 11 Days
Kolkata Japan Yokohama 28 Days
Mundra Japan Hakata 35 Days
Nhava Sheva Japan Nagoya 28 Days
Visakhapatnam Japan Yokohama 27 Days
Chennai Japan Yokohama 27 Days
Kolkata Japan Kobe 26 Days
Mundra Japan Kobe 31 Days
Nhava Sheva Japan Hakata 35 Days
Visakhapatnam Japan Tokyo 28 Days
Chennai Japan Nagoya 27 Days
Kolkata Japan Shimizu 34 Days
Nhava Sheva Japan Kobe 28 Days
Kolkata Japan Yokohama 28 Days
Mundra Malaysia Port Klang 10 Days
Nhava Sheva Malaysia Port Klang 10 Days
Pipavav Malaysia Port Klang 8 Days
Chennai Malaysia Port Klang 6 Days
Krishnapatnam Malaysia Port Klang 4 Days
Kolkata Malaysia Port Klang 4 Days
Kattupalli Malaysia Port Klang 5 Days
Mundra Malaysia Tanjung Pelepas 13 Days
Visakhapatnam New Zealand Auckland 24 Days
Chennai New Zealand Auckland 27 Days
Kolkata New Zealand Auckland 30 Days
Mundra New Zealand Auckland 30 Days
Nhava Sheva New Zealand Tauranga 37 Days
Visakhapatnam Philippines Manila 9 Days
Chennai Philippines Manila 12 Days
Kolkata Philippines Manila 18 Days
Kattupalli Philippines Manila 19 Days
Pipavav Singapore Singapore 7 Days
Nhava Sheva Singapore Singapore 12 Days
Mundra Singapore Singapore 11 Days
Kolkata Singapore Singapore 6 Days
Krishnapatnam Singapore Singapore 5 Days
Haldia Singapore Singapore 5 Days
Kattupalli Singapore Singapore 6 Days
Visakhapatnam South Korea Busan 15 Days
Krishnapatnam South Korea Busan 14 Days
Chennai South Korea Busan 16 Days
Kattupalli South Korea Busan 15 Days
Nhava Sheva South Korea Kwangyang 20 Days
Mundra South Korea Kwangyang 18 Days
Kolkata Taiwan Kaohsiung 16 Days
Mundra Taiwan Taipei 22 Days
Nhava Sheva Thailand Laem Chabang 20 Days
Chennai Thailand Laem Chabang 16 Days
Kattupalli Thailand Laem Chabang 15 Days
Kolkata Thailand Bangkok 16 Days
Haldia Thailand Bangkok 16 Days
Mundra Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City 17 Days
Nhava Sheva Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City 18 Days
Visakhapatnam Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City 14 Days
Chennai Vietnam Da Nang 18 Days
Mundra Vietnam Haiphong 19 Days
Hazira Vietnam Haiphong 13 Days

Facts About Air Freight From India

For expedited shipments from India or high-value goods in smaller quantities, nothing beats the speed and security of air freight. Aside from the speed of flight, air freight benefits from the possibility to travel on any of thousands of flights per day, since it can often be carried by passenger airliners as well as dedicated cargo planes.

If you are interested in sending air freight from India to just about anywhere in the world, the following sections contain information you may find valuable. At Shipa Freight, we can fly your goods using any of the routes listed on this page, and although the lists only show airport-to-airport routes and transit times, we can take your shipments from door to door if you wish.

Air Freight Lanes From India: The Busiest Global Routes

With airlines connecting thousands of cities around the world, the air freight network is extensive, and it’s possible to ship your products from India to absolutely anywhere by air. Of course, the fastest options are always going to be direct air freight routes that involve no transshipments, but these options are less abundant.

That said, there are one or two flights per day from the major airports in India to most major cities in Europe. There are many more direct flights to the Middle East and Asia, with the following five trade lanes being among the busiest for air freight:

  • Mumbai to Dubai (UAE)
  • Delhi to Dubai
  • Cochin to Dubai
  • Delhi to Bangkok (Thailand)
  • Chennai to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia)

Air Freight From India: The Longest and Shortest Routes

In terms of duration, air freight transportation from India is, on average, quite short when compared to many countries, as the subcontinent is relatively central in its geographic situation. The longest routes are on the trade lanes serving Australia, with flights from Delhi to Sydney involving around 12 hours transit time.

The shortest intercontinental air freight routes out of India link Mumbai with Abu Dhabi in the Middle East, and Delhi with Bangkok in Thailand. If you send your air cargo via either of these routes, the transit time will only be around three hours.

Of course, you will need to allow considerably more time for your shipments to clear customs at the origin and destination airports, but compared with several days of transit time for ocean freight, along with the additional time for border compliance, flying is by far the quickest method of international shipping from India.

List of Routes for Air Freight From India

Please note that all transit times shown in the list below are for your interest and general guidance. They show flight durations for direct routes only, and your freight may be in transit for more or less time than the charts indicate.

To Africa and the Middle East

Airport of Origin Destination Country Destination Airport Approximate Duration
Airport of Origin Destination Country Destination Airport Duration (Approx.)
Chennai Bahrain Bahrain 5 Hours
Hyderabad Bahrain Bahrain 5 Hours
Mumbai Bahrain Bahrain 4 Hours
Cochin Bahrain Bahrain 5 Hours
Delhi Bahrain Bahrain 5 Hours
Mumbai Egypt Cairo 7 Hours
Ahmedabad Kuwait Kuwait 5 Hours
Chennai Kuwait Kuwait 5 Hours
Hyderabad Kuwait Kuwait 5 Hours
Mumbai Kuwait Kuwait 5 Hours
Cochin Kuwait Kuwait 5 Hours
Delhi Kuwait Kuwait 5 Hours
Ahmedabad Oman Muscat 4 Hours
Chennai Oman Muscat 4 Hours
Hyderabad Oman Muscat 4 Hours
Mumbai Oman Muscat 4 Hours
Cochin Oman Muscat 4 Hours
Delhi Oman Muscat 4 Hours
Mumbai Saudi Arabia Dammam 3 Hours
Delhi Saudi Arabia Riyadh 6 Hours
Hyderabad Saudi Arabia Jeddah 6 Hours
Ahmedabad UAE Dubai 4 Hours
Chennai UAE Dubai 5 Hours
Hyderabad UAE Dubai 4 Hours
Kolkata UAE Dubai 5 Hours
Mumbai UAE Dubai 4 Hours
Cochin UAE Dubai 5 Hours
Delhi UAE Dubai 5 Hours
Ahmedabad UAE Abu Dhabi 4 Hours
Chennai UAE Abu Dhabi 5 Hours
Hyderabad UAE Abu Dhabi 4 Hours
Kolkata UAE Abu Dhabi 6 Hours
Mumbai UAE Abu Dhabi 3 Hours
Cochin UAE Abu Dhabi 4 Hours
Delhi UAE Abu Dhabi 4 Hours

To Europe

Airport of Origin Destination Country Destination Airport Approximate Duration
Delhi Austria Vienna 9 Hours
Delhi Denmark Copenhagen 10 Hours
Delhi Finland Helsinki 10 Hours
Mumbai France Paris 10 Hours
Delhi France Paris 10 Hours
Chennai Germany Frankfurt 10 Hours
Delhi Germany Frankfurt 10 Hours
Mumbai Germany Frankfurt 9 Hours
Mumbai Germany Munich 9 Hours
Delhi Germany Munich 9 Hours
Delhi Italy Milan 11 Hours
Delhi Italy Rome 9 Hours
Mumbai Netherlands Amsterdam 9 Hours
Delhi Netherlands Amsterdam 10 Hours
Delhi Sweden Stockholm 10 Hours
Mumbai Switzerland Zurich 9 Hours
Delhi Switzerland Zurich 10 Hours
Hyderabad United Kingdom London Heathrow 11 Hours
Chennai United Kingdom London Heathrow 11 Hours
Mumbai United Kingdom London Heathrow 10 Hours
Delhi United Kingdom London Heathrow 10 Hours
Delhi United Kingdom Birmingham 10 Hours

To Asia and Oceania

Airport of Origin Destination Country Destination Airport Approximate Duration
Delhi Australia Sydney 12 Hours
Mumbai China Guangzhou 5 Hours
Delhi China Beijing 6 Hours
Chennai China Shanghai 7 Hours
Mumbai China Shanghai 7 Hours
Delhi China Guangzhou 5 Hours
Chennai Hong Kong Hong Kong 5 Hours
Hyderabad Hong Kong Hong Kong 5 Hours
Mumbai Hong Kong Hong Kong 5 Hours
Delhi Hong Kong Hong Kong 5 Hours
Delhi Japan Tokyo 7 Hours
Mumbai Japan Tokyo 8 Hours
Delhi Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 5 Hours
Chennai Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Hyderabad Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Mumbai Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 5 Hours
Kolkata Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Cochin Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 4 Hours
Delhi Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 5 Hours
Chennai Singapore Singapore 4 Hours
Hyderabad Singapore Singapore 5 Hours
Kolkata Singapore Singapore 4 Hours
Mumbai Singapore Singapore 5 Hours
Cochin Singapore Singapore 4 Hours
Coimbatore Singapore Singapore 4 Hours
Delhi Singapore Singapore 5 Hours
Mumbai South Korea Seoul 7 Hours
Delhi South Korea Seoul 8 Hours
Ahmedabad Thailand Bangkok 4 Hours
Chennai Thailand Bangkok 3 Hours
Hyderabad Thailand Bangkok 4 Hours
Kolkata Thailand Bangkok 3 Hours
Mumbai Thailand Bangkok 4 Hours
Delhi Thailand Bangkok 4 Hours

Shipa Freight: Faster Forwarding From India

If the information on this page has given you some useful insights into the mechanics of international shipping from India, why not spare a moment for one more?

Your freight forwarder can make all the difference between a frustrating shipping experience and a smooth, seamless one. With Shipa Freight as your forwarder, you will have access to…

  • Fast online air or ocean freight quotes;
  • A technology-driven platform that smoothly integrates the quote, booking, payment, and tracking processes;
  • The power of Agility Logistics’ global network to get your exports quickly, securely, and smoothly transported from India to their final destination.

To learn more about our industry-leading online freight forwarding platform, and our friendly, professional service, take a look around our website or even better, sign up with Shipa Freight for free, and get your first air or ocean freight quote.

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