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Ocean & Air Freight Shipping to Philippines

Get information and quote for FCL, LCL and Air shipping

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Updated on 04 Jul 20219 min read

The Philippines is the 32nd-largest importer in the world. The Southeast Asian island nation imported goods worth $105 billion (USD) in 2017, with the top origins being China, Japan, South Korea, the United States, and Thailand.

Are you planning to import to the Philippines this year? Then you are in the right place.

We have compiled vital information about shipping options, costs, transit times, and customs clearance on this page to help you manage ocean and air shipping to the Philippines more successfully.

What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight to the Philippines?

As the Philippines are an island nation, importing your commercial goods is only possible via sea or air. Each option comes with certain advantages and drawbacks, which we will discuss in the following sections.

Ocean Freight to the Philippines

Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL shipping is for businesses that don’t want to hire a container exclusively for their cargo. When you choose this method of shipping, your goods travel in a shared container together with the consignments of other shippers.

Full Container Load (FCL): If you are shipping large quantities of products, renting a container for your exclusive use is likely the best option. This might be more cost-effective, because you are paying a flat fee for the unit – no matter how much you stuff into it.

Air Freight to the Philippines

Flying your goods to the Philippines is fast, even if your cargo is not shipped on a direct flight. You have to be willing to pay a premium price for the speed, though.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo to the Philippines?

There is no quick and easy answer to this question, as the ultimate cost depends on several criteria. When you receive a quote for ocean and air shipping to the Philippines, it’s usually 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)

One of the factors that has a significant effect on the final price is the weight of your cargo. Suppose you are shipping goods of 100 kg or more. Ocean freight is usually the least expensive option. However, if your freight weighs between 35 kg and 100 kg, there likely won’t be much of a difference between sea and air shipping rates.

For consignments weighing 35 kg or less, you are recommended to engage an international courier service. Most freight forwarders, including Shipa Freight, will decline to handle shipments in this weight bracket.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo to the Philippines?

Your anticipated shipping durations are primarily affected by the airport or seaport of origin. To give you an idea of how long it might take for your cargo to arrive, air shipments from a major international airport anywhere in the world can reach the Philippines in three to eight days. Your freight will be at sea much longer than that. Ocean shipping takes at least seven days—and as many as 46 days.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea to the Philippines?

Below you can see some examples of ocean shipping durations for freight bound for the Philippines from various locations around the world:

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Transit Time LCL Transit Time FCL
Australia Adelaide Manila 27 Days
Australia Sydney Manila 34 Days
China Shanghai Manila 9 Days 15 Days
China Tianjin Manila 19 Days
China Xiamen Manila 31 Days
China Guangzhou  Manila 15 Days
China Qingdao Cebu 31 Days 
China Lianyungang Davao 31 Days
Germany Hamburg Manila 42 Days 36 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Cebu 20 Days
India Nhava Sheva Manila 18 Days 20 Days
India Mundra Manila 22 Days
India Visakhapatnam Manila 20 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Cebu 18 Days 21 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Manila 11 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Davao 9 Days
Indonesia Surabaya Manila 11 Days 21 Days
Indonesia Semarang Davao 24 Days
Italy Genoa Manila 35 Days
Malaysia Pasir Gudang Cebu 21 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Davao 16 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Manila 13 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Cebu 16 Days
Pakistan Karachi Manila 31 Days
Singapore Singapore Cebu 11 Days
Singapore Singapore Manila 7 Days
Singapore Singapore Davao 16 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Manila 11 Days
Thailand Bangkok Manila 10 Days 21 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Manila 17 Days
The Netherlands Rotterdam Manila 44 Days 35 Days
USA Atlanta Davao 36 Days
USA Chicago Manila 43 Days
USA Houston Manila 46 Days
USA Los Angeles Manila 33 Days 29 Days
USA Long Beach Manila 30 Days
USA New York Manila 46 Days
USA San Francisco Manila 34 Days
Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City Manila 8 Days

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air to the Philippines?

Below you can see examples of transit times for air shipments to the Philippines from major international airports:

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Transit Time
Australia Perth Manila 3 Days
Canada Montreal Manila 7 Days
China Beijing Cebu 7 Days
China Beijing Manila 7 Days
China Shanghai Manila 7 Days
China Dalian Cebu 7 Days
China Nanjing Manila 7 Days
Germany Frankfurt Manila 6 Days
Germany Dusseldorf Manila 5 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Cebu 4 Days
India Mumbai Manila 5 Days
India Delhi Manila 3 Days
India Delhi Cebu 5 Days
India Chennai Cebu 4 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Manila 4 Days
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Cebu 4 Days
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Manila 3 Days
Singapore Singapore Manila 3 Days
The Netherlands Amsterdam Cebu 8 Days
UAE Dubai Manila 4 Days
UAE Dubai Cebu 8 Days
USA New York Cebu 5 Days
USA Los Angeles  Manila 5 Days
USA Houston Manila 5 Days
USA Miami Manila 5 Days
USA San Francisco Cebu 5 Days
USA San Francisco Manila 5 Days

Import Customs Clearance in the Philippines

Customs stamp resting on a customs invoice document stamped with export customs clearance in red ink as Shipa Freight assist you with customs clearance

Customs clearance is compulsory for your goods to enter the Philippines. As customs regulations can be complicated, many businesses decide to engage a freight forwarder for this vital task. An expert can avoid unnecessary delays and other problems. Additionally, you can be certain that your cargo complies with Filipino customs rules.

Submitting the required paperwork is still your responsibility, even when you use a freight forwarder. As a minimum, the customs service in the Philippines will ask for 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)

To finalize customs clearance, further documents, such as certificates, permits, and licenses, might also be needed. Your trusted freight forwarder will brief you on the precise requirements.

In the meantime, take a look at our document list to learn more about the different types of documents and see some examples.

Ship Ocean Freight to the Philippines: FCL or LCL?

With ocean shipping, most goods travel to the Philippines inside 20ft or 40ft containers aboard cargo ships. Carriers also offer options for sea freight that doesn’t fit inside a standard shipping container. Specialized containers, such as refrigerated and ventilated units, or break-bulk shipping (which is not containerized) are some of the possible alternatives.

You can ship your goods in a container to the Philippines as LCL or FCL freight. Both choices are bookable as port-to-port or door-to-door services. The information that follows will help you discover which of these methods is best for your logistics needs.

Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to the Philippines

LCL is often best for:

  • Consignments with a volume of under 14 CBM.
  • Cargo that isn’t needed in the Philippines urgently.
  • Freight that is too big or otherwise unsuitable to be sent as air freight.
  • Goods that can be transported alongside the consignments of other businesses in a shared container.

You should avoid LCL shipping for:

  • Products that are very fragile, perishable, or of high value.
  • Goods which might be damaged by excessive movement and handling.
  • Urgent cargo that needs to reach the Philippines on a certain date without delays.
  • Very large or heavy consignments.

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

Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to the Philippines

  • FCL typically proves to be the right shipping option:
  • For goods that need to be in the Philippines by a specified date.
  • For cargo which will occupy at least half the capacity of a standard 20ft container (14CBM).
  • For delicate or heavy consignments.
  • When it’s desirable for your shipment to remain sealed in its container throughout the shipping process.

On the other hand, FCL should be avoided if the supplier and/or buyer don’t possess the necessary infrastructure to load and unload shipping containers at their premises.

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

Cargo Ports of Arrival in the Philippines


Port Facts:

  • Largest international shipping gateway in the Philippines.
  • Ranks 28th in the list of the world's busiest container ports.
  • Comprises three major facilities: Manila North Harbor, Manila South Harbor, and Manila International Container Terminal.

Owned By: Government of Manila.

Annual Container Volume: >4.5 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located in the Central Visayas Region of the Philippines.
  • International port covers 14 hectares and has 512 meters of berthing space.
  • Domestic port is the largest in the country.

Owned By: Cebu Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >181,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Busiest international container port in the Visayas and Mindanao.
  • Located 974 km south of the capital Manila.
  • Services inter-island and international shipments.

Owned By: City Government of Davao.

Annual Container Volume: >544,000 TEUs.


Air Shipping for Your Freight to the Philippines

Sending your products on a cargo or passenger aircraft to the Philippines is significantly faster and more flexible than ocean shipping. However, there is a reason why most shippers choose air freight only for small consignments. It’s because typically, air shipping is much more costly than sending your goods by sea.

Nevertheless, air shipping is a viable option for:

  • Perishable products with a short shelf-life.
  • Goods that are needed in the Philippines urgently.
  • Small consignments of two to three pallets or less.
  • Recipients located conveniently close to an international airport.
  • Valuable cargo requiring the highest levels of security.

Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Airports of Arrival in the Philippines

Manila (IATA Code: MNL)

Airport Facts:

  • Known as Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
  • Hub of several airlines, such as Air Asia, Cebgo, Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, and Philippine Airlines.
  • Handles around 460,000 tonnes of freight annually.
  • Facilities include an international cargo terminal.
  • The airport suffers from severe congestion and at least one redevelopment and upgrade proposal is under consideration.

Cebu (IATA Code: CEB)

Airport Facts:

  • Second-busiest international airport in the Philippines.
  • Offers connections to 36 domestic and 37 international destinations.
  • Covers an area of 797 hectares and has a single runway.

Ocean and Air Shipping to the Philippines: Why Choose Shipa Freight?

Choosing Shipa Freight means working with a digital-first logistics provider at the cutting edge of freight forwarding. Businesses of all sizes benefit from our state-of-the-art online platform, on which they can manage their entire shipping process in one place and speed up their supply chains significantly.

Take advantage of the following benefits when you ship your freight to the Philippines with us:

  • Receive and compare quotes online
  • Book your shipment online without losing time.
  • Manage all of your imports and exports in one place.
  • Speak to our friendly customer support 24/7 via phone, email, and online chat.
  • Enjoy our simple, transparent approach to shipping documentation.
  • Rid yourself of customs complexity – we will take care of it for you.
  • Always know that your shipments are in full compliance with international rules and regulations.

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