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Ocean & Air Freight Shipping to France

Get information and quote for FCL, LCL and Air shipping

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Updated on 16 Sep 20219 min read

France is a major player in global trade and currently the world’s sixth-largest importer. In 2018, the European nation imported goods worth $672,549 million (USD). France's main trade partners are the European Union, the United States, and China.

If importing to France is on your agenda, then you will need to know about the different modes of transport, costs, transit times, and customs clearance procedures. We have gathered the most important information about ocean and air shipping to France, right here on this page for your convenience.

What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight to France?

In addition to land transport via France’s neighboring countries, your commercial goods can enter the country via air or sea. Each option has certain benefits and drawbacks, which we will discuss in the following sections.

Ocean Freight to France

Less than Container Load (LCL): When you choose LCL shipping, your cargo will travel next to the consignments of other shippers in a shared container. This is often the least expensive option for small freight shipments that don’t warrant paying for an entire container.

Full Container Load (FCL): With FCL, a shipping container is yours for the entire journey to France. Shippers who want their goods to remain sealed until they reach the final recipient prefer this option. It is also likely to be the most cost-effective mode of transport for large shipments.

Air Freight to France

In most cases, air shipping will outperform ocean shipping for speed and flexibility. This is true even when a direct flight is not available for your cargo. On a less positive note, air freight is also likely to be the most expensive option.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo to France?

With the final cost depending on so many different criteria, there is no easy answer to this question. The quote for your ocean and air shipping needs will be based on the following factors:

  • Nature of goods
  • Chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL, Air)
  • Weight of the cargo
  • Dimensions of the cargo
  • Distance between origin and destination
  • Type of service (such as port-to-port, door-to-door)

There is one rule of thumb that you should know when it comes to cost. Ocean shipping will typically be the most economical option for heavy freight of 100 kg or more. Smaller consignments of less than 100 kg, on the other hand, can be easily transported via air or sea because there is typically little difference between the cost of ocean and air shipping.

Shipments weighing less than 35 kg should be moved by international courier services because it’s not cost-effective for freight forwarders like Shipa Freight to deal with this weight bracket.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo to France?

Mechanical chronometer to represent the transit time of shipments with Shipa Freight

How long it will take for your cargo to reach France will primarily depend on the oceanport and airport of origin. Air freight shipments from a major international airport are typically available for collection or onward transportation in France after two to ten days, although in rare cases, the time required can be longer. Ocean freight, however, takes much longer than that. Your goods might be at sea for 23 to 54 days.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea to France?

Below you can see example transit times for a shipping container from various locations to France:

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Transit Time LCL Transit Time FCL
Australia Brisbane Le Havre 54 Days
Australia Fremantle Le Havre 41 Days
Australia Melbourne Le Havre 48 Days
China Ningbo Fos-Sur-Mer 41 Days
China Ningbo Le Havre 38 Days
China Shanghai Le Havre 34 Days 37 Days
China Shekou Le Havre 38 Days
China Shenzhen Le Havre 39 Days 46 Days
China Tianjin Fos-Sur-Mer 41 Days
China Zhuhai Fos-Sur-Mer 20 Days
India Cochin Fos-Sur-Mer 34 Days
India Cochin Le Havre 37 Days
India Chennai Fos-Sur-Mer 33 Days
India Chennai Le Havre 39 Days
India Mundra Fos-Sur-Mer 25 Days
India Mundra Le Havre 30 Days
India Nhava Sheva Le Havre 34 Days
India Nhava Sheva Fos-Sur-Mer 30 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Fos-Sur-Mer 26 Days 26 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Le Havre 45 Days
Indonesia Belawan Le Havre 36 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Le Havre 45 Days 40 Days
Indonesia Semarang Fos-Sur-Mer 38 Days
Indonesia Semarang Le Havre  36 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Le Havre 45 Days
Pakistan Karachi Fos-Sur-Mer 36 Days
Thailand Bangkok Le Havre 45 Days 42 Days
UAE Jebel Ali Fos-Sur-Mer 36 Days
USA Houston Le Havre 23 Days
USA Boston Le Havre 24 Days

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air to France?

Here are examples of transit times for air shipments to France from various major international airports:

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Transit Time
Australia Brisbane Lyon 3 Days
Australia Melbourne Paris 3 Days
Australia Sydney Paris 3 Days
Bangladesh Dhaka Paris 4 Days
China Shanghai Paris 3 Days
China Shenzhen Paris 8 Days
China Beijing Lyon 7 Days
China Chengdu Paris 13 Days
Colombia Bogota Paris 10 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Lyon 5 Days
India Mumbai Paris 8 Days
India Chennai Marseille 4 Days
India Chennai Paris 5 Days
India Delhi Paris 4 Days
India Ahmedabad Paris 8 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Marseille 6 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Paris 6 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Paris 3 Days
Jordan Amman Paris 8 Days
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Paris 5 Days
Saudi Arabia Jeddah Paris 6 Days
Thailand  Bangkok Marseille 5 Days
Thailand Bangkok Paris 3 Days
UAE Abu Dhabi Paris 8 Days
UAE Dubai Paris 4 Days
UAE Dubai Marseille 4 Days
USA Boston Paris 5 Days
USA Charlotte Paris 7 Days
USA Dallas Paris 5 Days
USA Chicago Paris 5 Days
USA Miami Paris 2 Days
USA New York Paris 6 Days
USA San Francisco Paris 4 Days
Vietnam Hanoi Paris 8 Days

Import Customs Clearance in France

The customs authorities in France will grant import clearance only to freight that has followed proper procedures. For first-time shippers especially, this can be an overwhelming process and not to be underestimated.

To be on the safe side, most businesses engage an experienced freight forwarder for the task. They can guarantee that French customs rules are followed to the letter.

Even when you rely on a freight forwarder, you still have to submit the necessary paperwork. The French customs officials will typically request the following documents:

  1. Commercial Invoice

  2. Packing List

  3. Certificate of Origin

  4. Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)

  5. Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)

Sometimes they request other documents, too, such as certificates, permits, licenses. Your freight forwarder will inform you about the exact requirements as necessary.

If you would like to learn more about these documents and see some examples, have a look at our handy documents list.

Ship Ocean Freight to France: FCL or LCL?

Most commercial goods travel to French ports inside 20ft or 40ft containers that are loaded aboard specialized cargo vessels. These ships also carry sea freight that doesn’t fit inside a standard container. The carriers can offer other types of containers and break-bulk shipping options.

Containerized ocean shipping has two alternatives: LCL and FCL. The following sections discuss the pros and cons of each option.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to France


  • LCL is the cheapest option for shipments of cargo that occupy around six standard pallets (equivalent to 14 CBM) or less.
  • LCL provides you with flexibility for loading and delivery, because you can drop off and pick up your cargo from the freight forwarder’s warehouse.
  • LCL can speed up your supply chain, as you don’t have to wait until you have accumulated sufficient cargo to fill a container.

**Disadvantages: **

  • Your freight will travel alongside the consignments of other shippers.
  • The necessary consolidation and deconsolidation of the container usually adds a few days to your freight’s transit time.
  • The extra movements and handling can put delicate, fragile, or perishable cargo at risk of damage.

Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to France


  • FCL is fast and straightforward, as no consolidation or deconsolidation is necessary.
  • With FCL, your goods will remain isolated in a container for the entire journey to France.
  • If you are shipping more than 14 CBM, FCL will probably work out cheaper than LCL, when you calculate the transportation cost per unit.


  • A flat fee applies for rental and shipping of the entire container, no matter how much or how little you load into it.
  • FCL might restrict your pickup and delivery options as not all businesses can handle shipping containers in their facilities.

Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Arrival in France

Le Havre

Port Facts:

  • Largest container port in France.
  • Located on the mouth of the Seine River, just 200 km away from Paris.
  • Facilities include three sets of terminals dedicated to containers and 6.5 kilometers of docks.
  • Offers access to France’s hinterland and other European destinations via the rail network.

Owned By: Grande Port Maritime du Havre.

Annual Container Volume: >2.8 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Situated 40 kilometers northwest of Marseille on the Mediterranean coast.
  • Ideal for importers in Marseille, Montpelier, Avignon, and other areas of southern France.
  • Facilities include container handling terminals and a gas terminal.

Owned By: Marseille Fos Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.25 million TEUs.


Air Shipping for Your Freight to France

Air freight is for shippers who value speed more than cost. Flying your cargo to France is significantly faster and more flexible than transporting it by sea. Due to the premium price, most businesses choose this mode of transport only for small quantities of products.


  • Ideal for cargo with a limited shelf-life, because of the short transit times.
  • Airlines and airport operators guarantee high standards of security.
  • Best if you are moving only two to three pallets or even less.
  • Less affected by the weather and, hence, very reliable.
  • Convenient for recipients located close to an international airport.


  • Very costly when you are shipping large quantities of goods.
  • Bulky or awkwardly shaped freight may not fit into the hold of an aircraft.

Airports of Arrival in France

Paris Charles de Gaulle (IATA Code: CDG)

Airport Facts:

  • Twelfth-busiest air-freight gateway in the world and second-busiest in Europe.
  • Largest airport in France.
  • Boasts an annual cargo handling capacity of 3.6 million tonnes.
  • Situated 23 kilometers northeast of central Paris in the district Roissy-en-France.
  • Covers an area of over 32 square kilometers.

Lyon (IATA Code: LYS)

Airport Facts:

  • Primary airport of the third-biggest city in France and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
  • Known as Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport.
  • Located close to Lyon’s main business district just 20 kilometers outside of the city.

Marseille (IATA Code: MRS)

Airport Facts:

  • Third-largest airport for freight throughput in the country.
  • Situated 27 kilometers northwest of Marseille.
  • Facilities include an ultra-modern 1,200 square-meter cold room for perishable products.

Strasbourg (IATA Code: SXB)

Airport Facts:

  • Situated 10 kilometers southwest of central Strasbourg.
  • Has a single runway and one terminal.
  • Offers 40 direct connections, mainly to European destinations.

Ocean and Air Shipping to France: Why Choose Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight’s state-of-the-art online platform is taking freight forwarding to the next level. Businesses of all sizes can now ship their cargo to France with us – making supply chain management easier than ever.

Ship your freight to France with us to benefit from:

  • Instant, easy-to-understand online quotes.
  • Fast and straightforward online booking and payment.
  • One platform for all of your imports and exports.
  • Transparent shipping documentation.
  • Complex customs clearance done for you.
  • Full compliance with international shipping rules and regulations.
  • Helpful customer service—available 24/7 via phone, email, and online chat.

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