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Ocean & Air Freight Shipping to Mexico

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Updated on 28 Nov 202110 min read

Are you planning to export commercial goods to Mexico? Perhaps your business is already shipping goods to one of Latin America’s most populous nations.

Either way, you’ll find the content on this page useful. It’s written to make exporting to Mexico easier and more successful for businesses of all sizes.

What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight to Mexico?

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You have two ways to get your commodities to Mexico—by air or by sea. Both modes of transportation have pros and cons that we’ll outline on this page.

Ocean Freight to Mexico

Less than Container Load (LCL): Your goods can be shipped to Mexico in a shared container using an LCL shipping service. Companies with smaller consignments to send often find this the most cost-effective way to get their goods to Latin America. However, it can take longer than FCL shipping, due to consolidation and deconsolidation requirements.

Full Container Load (FCL): FCL allows you to ship your goods to Mexico aboard a cargo vessel in a container that’s exclusively yours. There is no requirement to fill your container—you can send a partially full container if you wish. FCL is usually quicker and sometimes shipping rates are less expensive than LCL, particularly for larger quantities of freight.

Air Freight to Mexico

For the fastest way to ship cargo to Mexico, send it as air cargo. Freight forwarders can use cargo-only carriers and passenger services to fly your goods to your destination. Air freight is more expensive than ocean shipping.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo to Mexico?

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The following factors will determine the cost of your shipment to Mexico:

  • The distance from the point of origin to the point of arrival
  • What kind of goods are being shipped
  • The preferred mode of shipping, whether that’s LCL ocean, FCL ocean, or air freight shipping
  • The weight, volume, and size of your consignment
  • The kind of delivery service you need (door-to-door, port-to-port, door-to-port, or port-to-door)

The weight of your consignment could play a key role in determining the mode of shipping you choose, as it’s closely linked to price.

If your goods are heavy (above 100 kg) ocean shipping will almost always be more cost-efficient. For lighter consignments (below 100 kg) the quotes you get for ocean and air freight shipping are likely to be similar.

For even lighter loads of 35 kg or under, you should approach international couriers for quotes, as freight forwarders do not handle these very small shipments.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo to Mexico?

As you might expect, the distance your freight needs to travel and your choice of air or ocean shipping will impact timings. A quick look at the following distances between Mexico and some key international freight hubs will give you an idea of how far your goods will need to travel:

  • From New York, USA – 3,400 km
  • From Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 7,600 km
  • From London, UK – 8,900 km
  • From Beijing, China – 12,400 km
  • From Sydney, Australia– 12,900 km
  • From New Delhi, India – 14,600 km

Aircraft travel at an average speed of 900 kilometers per hour, making air freight by far the fastest of the two modes of shipping available to you. Shipments to Mexico from practically every major international airport in the world should take between five and eight days.

Ocean vessels move at a much more sedate pace of 35 kilometers per hour. But, of course, they are usually transporting a far greater volume of cargo. Because the timings of shipments to Mexico will depend on your choice of FCL or LCL shipping, you should allow between 13 and 61 days for completion.

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

Please see these examples of shipping times to Mexico from major ocean freight hubs around the world:

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Transit Time LCL Transit Time FCL
Australia Melbourne Manzanillo 61 Days
Belgium Antwerp Veracruz 22 Days 20 Days
Brazil Itajai   Veracruz 40 Days
Brazil Paranagua Altamira 23 Days
Brazil Rio Grande Veracruz 23 Days
China Guangzhou   Manzanillo 28 Days
China Chongqing Manzanillo 29 Days 34 Days
China Ningbo Lazaro Cardenas 46 Days
China Ningbo Manzanillo 36 Days
China Shanghai   Manzanillo 24 Days 35 Days
China Qingdao   Manzanillo 24 Days 46 Days
China   Tianjin Manzanillo 46 Days
China Xiamen Manzanillo 37 Days
China Zhuhai Manzanillo 46 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Veracruz 18 Days
Germany Hamburg Altamira 21 Days 24 Days
Germany   Hamburg Veracruz 23 Days 22 Days
Germany   Hamburg Manzanillo 25 Days
India Chennai Manzanillo 51 Days 49 Days
India Mundra Altamira 40 Days
India Mundra Manzanillo 50 Days 46 Days
India Mundra Veracruz 41 Days
India Nhava Sheva Altamira   50 Days 42 Days
India Nhava Sheva Manzanillo   50 Days 46 Days
India Nhava Sheva Veracruz 47 Days 37 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Altamira 56 Days
Italy La Spezia   Veracruz 21 Days 28 Days
Spain Barcelona Altamira 30 Days
Spain Barcelona Manzanillo 24 Days
Spain Barcelona   Veracruz 22 Days 21 Days
Spain Bilbao Altamira 24 Days 37 Days
Spain Valencia Altamira 26 Days 31 Days
Spain Valencia   Veracruz 25 Days 26 Days
Thailand Bangkok Manzanillo 37 Days 31 Days
Thailand Bangkok Veracruz 54 Days
USA   Miami Veracruz 13 Days

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

Below, we have compiled a list of typical shipment times to Mexico from various air cargo hubs around the world:

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Transit Time
Australia Sydney Mexico City 8 Days
Brazil São Paulo Guarulhos Mexico City 5 Days
China Shanghai Mexico City 8 Days
China Shenzhen Mexico City 7 Days
Germany Berlin Mexico City 8 Days
Germany Dusseldorf Mexico City 8 Days
Germany Frankfurt Mexico City 8 Days
Germany Hamburg Mexico City 8 Days
Germany Stuttgart Mexico City 8 Days
India Mumbai Guadalajara 8 Days
India Mumbai Mexico City 7 Days
India Delhi Mexico City 6 Days
India Chennai Monterrey 8 Days
Spain Barcelona Mexico City 8 Days
Spain Bilbao Mexico City 8 Days
Spain Madrid Mexico City 8 Days
Spain Madrid Monterrey 8 Days
UK London Mexico City 2 Days
USA Atlanta Mexico City 7 Days
USA Cincinnati Mexico City 5 Days
USA Los Angeles Guadalajara 5 Days
USA Los Angeles Mexico City 5 Days
USA Houston Veracruz 4 Days

Import Customs Clearance in Mexico

No matter where you are exporting to Mexico from, your goods will be subject to customs rules and regulations. These can often leave shippers scratching their heads in confusion. So much so, that many choose to hire freight forwarders to handle the process. It’s a wise move as it will help to ensure all consignments comply with the rules and don’t fall victim to unnecessary delays.

To prepare your goods for customs checks, your forwarder will ask you to complete important documents. These will include:

  1. A Commercial Invoice

  2. A Packing List

  3. A Certificate of Origin

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

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

If you wish to see samples of the paperwork listed above, you can do so by viewing this documents list page. Please be aware that you may need to supply additional essential documents, such as licenses, permits, and/or certificates.

Ship Ocean Freight to Mexico: FCL or LCL?

Mexico handles over five million commercial goods containers every year. That’s the third-highest cargo throughput in Latin America. There are ports on Mexico’s western (Pacific) and eastern (Gulf) coastline. Whichever destination meets your business’ needs, your goods will likely be shipped in a 20ft or 40ft container aboard a cargo vessel.

Depending on the size and nature of your consignment, your sea freight can be shipped in one of two ways. LCL shipping requires goods to share a container with other products. FCL shipping gives you exclusive use of a container for your cargo.

Below, we outline the relative advantages and disadvantages of FCL and LCL shipping to help make your decision easier.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to Mexico

Companies often choose LCL shipping when:

  • Their consignment is small—under 14 cubic meters
  • Their freight is not urgently required in Mexico
  • They are comfortable with their goods sharing a container with other unspecified products
  • They cannot use air freight for safety or financial reasons

While LCL is usually the most cost-effective way of shipping to Mexico for smaller shipments, it does have some disadvantages. The process requires consolidation and deconsolidation of goods— logistics necessities that sometimes mean LCL shipments to Mexico take longer than FCL.

Businesses usually avoid LCL shipping when:

  • Their goods are fragile, perishable, or high-value
  • Frequent moving or handling of their goods could damage them
  • Delays to delivery are not acceptable
  • Their consignment is too heavy, large, or awkwardly-shaped to share a container

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

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to Mexico

FCL is typically the right ocean shipping option for businesses that:

  • Are shipping a large consignment—at least 14 cubic meters
  • Require their goods to be in Mexico by a specific date
  • Need to transport delicate or heavy goods
  • Want their container sealed ahead of shipment to Mexico, and to have it remain sealed until it reaches the consignee

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

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Mexico


Port Facts:

  • Situated on Mexico’s east coast about 300 km from the capital city
  • Located in the center of the state of Veracruz
  • Offers easy access to the hinterland via road and rail
  • Ideal for efficient onward distribution of goods across Central and Southern Mexico
  • In September 2019, the port became the first in Mexico to use blockchain technology to improve its cargo flow

Owned By: Administración Portuaria Integral de Veracruz.

Annual Container Volume: >900,000 TEUs.


Lazaro Cardenas

Port Facts:

  • Located on Mexico’s Pacific coast
  • Just 110 kilometers from California in the United States
  • Third-largest seaport in Mexico
  • A new $533 million container terminal opened in 2017
  • Ideal port of arrival for goods required in Ensenada and Tijuana

Owned By: Port Authority of Lazaro Cardenas.

Annual Container Volume: >1.3 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on the north shore of the Gulf of Mexico
  • Situated within 400 km of the border with the USA
  • Ranks as Mexico’s fourth-largest port by cargo volume
  • A dredging project announced in December will ensure the port is ready to handle 14,000-TEUs vessels by 2023

Owned By: Administración Portuaria Integral Altamira.

Annual Container Volume: >680,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Mexico’s largest seaport for containerized goods
  • Situated on the west coast
  • A new 1.75m TEU container terminal is under construction
  • Ideal port of arrival for goods required in Tecoman, San Patricio, Colima, and Aguililla.

Owned By: Hutchison Port Holdings.

Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.


Air Shipping for Your Freight to Mexico

Companies often choose air shipping to Mexico if:

  • They want the fastest way to get their goods to Latin America
  • Their freight is fragile or perishable
  • Their consignment is urgently needed in Mexico
  • They are only shipping a small amount of goods—perhaps two or three pallets
  • Their cargo is high-value and requires the tight security measures provided by airports

Airports of Arrival in Mexico

Mexico City (IATA Code: MEX)

Airport Facts:

  • Located just five kilometers from downtown Mexico City
  • Served by 21 air cargo carriers
  • Ranked as the second-busiest air freight hub in Latin America
  • Facilities are currently operating at full capacity

Monterrey (IATA Code: MTY)

Airport Facts:

  • Located in Apodaca, Nuevo Leon
  • Officially called Monterrey Escobedo International Airport
  • One of Latin America’s top 15 cargo hubs
  • Efficient rail and road connections to destinations across Northern Mexico
  • Infrastructure includes two runways and a six-hectare cargo terminal

Guadalajara (IATA Code: GDL)

Airport Facts:

  • Mexico’s second-largest air freight hub
  • Officially called Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla Guadalajara International Airport
  • Facilities include a 27,000 square meter freight terminal with room for 350,000 tonnes of goods
  • Aprons can accommodate six air freighters simultaneously

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

Shipa Freight brings refreshing simplicity to international shipping for companies seeking to export to Mexico. Our online platform allows businesses of all sizes to get shipping quotes, book, pay, and track every stage of the shipment.

Other benefits Shipa Freight brings to shipping freight to Mexico include:

  • 24/7 access to a friendly customer service team ready to help
  • We simplify all aspects of shipping so customs requirements are clear
  • We ensure your shipping complies with international rules and regulations
  • We show you the documents that need to be sent with your consignment

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