Ocean & Air Freight Shipping to Saudi Arabia [Updated: Sep 2021]
Get information and quote for FCL, LCL and Air shipping
Saudi Arabia’s oil-based economy not only exports petroleum products but also imports goods actively. The largest economy in the Middle East is the 32nd-largest import market in the world. In 2018, imports of goods amounted to $137 billion (USD), with China, the USA, the UAE, Germany, and India being the primary importers.
If you are planning to engage in ocean and air shipping to Saudi Arabia, you’ve landed on the right page. You will find useful information here about different modes and methods of shipping, costs, transit times, customs clearance, and much more.
Your commercial goods can enter Saudi Arabia either via air or sea. You will learn about the benefits and drawbacks of each option here.
Ocean Freight to Saudi Arabia
Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL shipping is a great option when you don’t want to hire a container to ship your freight to Saudi Arabia. LCL means that your cargo will travel alongside the consignments of other shippers in a shared container. For transporting small, light shipments, LCL is often the least-expensive option.
Full Container Load (FCL): FCL means renting a full container and paying for its transportation to Saudi Arabia at a flat rate. This is the right option if you prefer that your cargo remains sealed in the unit until it reaches the final recipient. For large freight consignments, FCL shipping will probably offer the best rates.
Air Freight to Saudi Arabia
Air freight is by far the fastest way of getting your goods to Saudi Arabia, even if your cargo can’t won’t travel on a direct flight. However, it is also likely to be the most expensive option.
There’s no quick answer to this question as the final cost depends on several criteria. Your freight forwarder will prepare a quote for your ocean and air shipping needs based on the factors below:
- Nature of goods
- Chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL, Air)
- Weight of the cargo
- Dimension 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 large effect on the final price is the weight of your goods. Ocean freight is usually the cheapest option for cargo weighing 100 kg or more. But if you are transporting smaller consignments of less than 100 kg, there may be little difference between the cost of ocean and air shipping.
Anything lighter than 35 kg typically won’t be handled by a freight forwarder such as Shipa Freight. You can appoint an international courier service to move these consignments instead.
The ocean port or airport of origin will affect your expected transit times. Air freight from a major international airport anywhere in the world can be ready for collection or onward transportation from the airport in Saudi Arabia in two to eight days. Sea freight will take longer than that—usually between three and 50 days.
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea to Saudi Arabia?
Below you can see how long a shipping container from various locations around the world would take to reach Saudi Arabia:
|Country of Origin||Port of Origin||Destination Port||Transit Time LCL||Transit Time FCL|
|Belgium||Antwerpen||Jeddah||18 Days||19 Days|
|China||Shanghai||Ad Dammam||31 Days||30 Days|
|China||Guangzhou||Ad Dammam||42 Days||20 Days|
|China||Guangzhou||Jeddah||40 Days||36 Days|
|China||Tianjin||Ad Dammam||40 Days|
|China||Xiamen||Ad Dammam||34 Days|
|China||Huangpu||Ad Dammam||20 Days|
|Germany||Hamburg||Ad Dammam||40 Days||29 Days|
|Germany||Hamburg||Jeddah||26 Days||20 Days|
|India||Chennai||Ad Dammam||33 Days||24 Days|
|India||Chennai||Jeddah||22 Days||28 Days|
|India||Cochin||Jeddah||25 Days||25 Days|
|India||Cochin||Ad Dammam||23 Days|
|India||Mundra||Ad Dammam||26 Days|
|India||Nhava Sheva||Jeddah||18 Days||22 Days|
|India||Nhava Sheva||Ad Dammam||26 Days||21 Days|
|India||Kolkata||Jeddah||26 Days||30 Days|
|India||Kattupalli||Ad Dammam||31 Days|
|India||Tuticorin||Ad Dammam||23 Days|
|India||Visakhapatnam||Ad Dammam||28 Days|
|Indonesia||Jakarta||Ad Dammam||19 Days|
|Indonesia||Semarang||Ad Dammam||26 Days|
|Italy||La Spezia||Jeddah||22 Days|
|Japan||kobe||Ad Dammam||34 Days|
|Jordan||Al 'Aqabah||Jeddah||3 Days|
|Malaysia||Port Klang||Jeddah||36 Days||26 Days|
|Malaysia||Port Klang||Ad Dammam||26 Days|
|Netherlands||Rotterdam||Ad Dammam||27 Days|
|Norway||Oslo||Ad Dammam||53 Days|
|Philippines||Manila||Jeddah||41 Days||27 Days|
|Spain||Bilbao||Ad Dammam||30 Days|
|Spain||Valencia||Ad Dammam||23 Days|
|UAE||Jebel Ali||Jeddah||13 Days|
|UAE||Jebel Ali||Ad Dammam||6 Days|
|UK||Felixstowe||Ad Dammam||33 Days|
|UK||London Gateway||Jeddah||20 Days|
|UK||London Gateway||Ad Dammam||32 Days|
|UK||Southampton||Ad Dammam||30 Days|
|USA||Long Beach||Jeddah||45 Days|
|USA||Atlanta||Ad Dammam||35 Days|
|USA||Chicago||Ad Dammam||42 Days|
|USA||Miami||Ad Dammam||41 Days|
|USA||New York||Jeddah||36 Days|
|Vietnam||Ho Chi Minh City||Jeddah||25 Days|
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air to Saudi Arabia?
The examples below show the transit times for air shipments to Saudi Arabia from several major international airports:
|Country of Origin||Airport of Origin||Destination Airport||Transit Time|
|Brazil||São Paulo||Riyadh||5 Days|
|South Korea||Seoul||Jeddah||3 Days|
|South Korea||Seoul||Riyadh||3 Days|
|UAE||Abu Dhabi||Riyadh||2 Days|
|UAE||Abu Dhabi||Jeddah||2 Days|
|UAE||Abu Dhabi||Dammam||2 Days|
|USA||Los Angeles||Jeddah||5 Days|
|USA||New York||Dammam||5 Days|
|USA||New York||Jeddah||5 Days|
|USA||New York||Riyadh||5 Days|
|USA||Los Angeles||Jeddah||6 Days|
|USA||Los Angeles||Riyadh||6 Days|
|USA||San Francisco||Dammam||7 Days|
Customs clearance is compulsory for all imports of commercial goods into Saudi Arabia. This can be a complex process that shouldn’t be underestimated. To avoid unnecessary delays and issues, many businesses choose to engage a seasoned freight forwarder for this task.
When experts handle customs clearance, they also guarantee that your freight complies with Saudi Arabian customs rules.
Still, you have to prepare and submit the required paperwork, even if you rely on a freight forwarder. Saudi Arabian customs officials will, as a minimum, request the following documents:
- Commercial Invoice
- Packing List
- Certificate of Origin
- Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
- Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)
Sometimes certificates, permits, licenses, and other documents might be requested to finalize customs clearance. Your freight forwarder will inform you about the precise requirements as necessary.
If you are curious to learn more about these documents and view some examples, take a look at our documents list.
Choosing ocean freight means that your goods will travel aboard a specialized cargo vessel to Saudi Arabia. Most cargo can be stored inside standard 20ft or 40ft containers. However, if your freight doesn’t fit, your freight forwarder or carrier can provide other container types or break-bulk shipping options.
There are two ways of standard containerized shipping to Saudi Arabia: LCL and FCL. You can book either option as a door-to-door or port-to-port service. Which one you ultimately choose will depend on the weight, volume, and nature of your goods.
Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to Saudi Arabia
LCL shipping is probably right for you if:
- You are looking for a cheap way to move relatively small shipments to Saudi Arabia.
- You don’t require the freight to reach Saudi Arabia urgently.
- The nature of your goods doesn’t prevent them from sharing a container.
- Your freight is unsuitable to ship as air freight.
Before you decide on LCL, you also need to know about its drawbacks. This mode of transport involves additional process steps, which usually lengthen the overall transit time and make the delivery date less reliable.
Specifically, these extra steps are the consolidation of the cargo into one container at the port of origin and the subsequent deconsolidation at the port of arrival in Saudi Arabia. That’s why LCL might not be the right choice for shipping to Saudi Arabia if:
- Your goods are high-value, fragile, or have a very limited shelf-life.
- Moving your goods excessively could damage them.
- Delays are not acceptable because your cargo is needed in Saudi Arabia on a certain date.
- Your consignment is very large and/or heavy.
Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.
Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to Saudi Arabia
FCL is a viable option if:
- You need your goods to reach Saudi Arabia by a specific date.
- Your shipment is large enough to fill at least half the capacity of a standard 20ft container.
- Your cargo is very heavy or delicate.
- You want your products sealed in a container until they reach the consignee in Saudi Arabia.
Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.
Cargo Ports of Arrival in Saudi Arabia
- Located on the Red Sea coast of Saudi Arabia.
- Second-largest container port in the Arab world and principal port of Saudi Arabia.
- Port complex spreads over 12 square kilometers.
- Capable of accommodating the largest container ships.
Owned By: Saudi Ports Authority.
Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.
- Located on the Persian Gulf, on the opposite side of the country from Jeddah.
- Critical gateway for imports from all over the world.
- Also known as King Abdul Aziz Port.
- Best choice for goods destined for Riyadh and other landlocked cities.
Owned By: Saudi Ports Authority.
Annual Container Volume: >1.5 million TEUs.
Air freight is the best option if speed is more important to you than cost. Flying your freight to Saudi Arabia is faster and more flexible than sending it by sea. Because of the high price, though, most shippers choose air shipping services only for small quantities of goods.
If any of the following apply to you, air freight may well prove worthy of consideration:
- Your products are perishable with a limited shelf-life.
- Your freight will occupy no more than two to three pallets.
- Your cargo is needed in Saudi Arabia urgently.
- Your cargo requires the highest levels of security.
- Your recipient in Saudi Arabia is located closer to an international airport than a seaport.
Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.
Airports of Arrival in Saudi Arabia
Jeddah (IATA Code: JED)
- Officially named King Abdulaziz International Airport.
- Busiest airport in Saudi Arabia.
- Located 19 kilometers to the north of Jeddah’s city center.
- Occupies an area of 105 square kilometers.
Riyadh (IATA Code: RUH)
- Officially called King Khalid Airport.
- Second-largest airport in the country after Jeddah Airport.
- Serves the capital city and its surrounds in the center of the country.
Dammam (IATA Code: DMM)
- Ideal airport of entry for freight bound for the Eastern regions of Saudi Arabia.
- Largest airport in the world, with a total area of 780 square kilometers.
- Facilities include a two-story air cargo building with a capacity of 94,000 tonnes.
Shipa Freight is a cutting-edge logistics service provider. We are taking freight forwarding to a new level with our state-of-the-art online platform. Shipping cargo to Saudi Arabia is now easier than ever for businesses of all sizes. Our solution enables you to manage your entire ocean and air shipping process in one place, to speed up your supply chain significantly.
Enjoy the following benefits when you ship your freight to Saudi Arabia with us:
- Quick and easy-to-understand online quotes.
- Transparent online booking and payment process.
- All of your imports and exports at a glance on our sophisticated platform.
- Clear and transparent shipping documentation.
- Customs clearance simplified and executed for you.
- Complete compliance with all shipping rules and regulations.
- Helpful customer support whenever you need it (available 24/7 via phone, email, and live chat).
- What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight to Saudi Arabia?
- How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo to Saudi Arabia?
- How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo to Saudi Arabia?
- Import Customs Clearance in Saudi Arabia
- Ship Ocean Freight to Saudi Arabia: FCL or LCL?
- Air Shipping for Your Freight to Saudi Arabia
- Ocean and Air Shipping to Saudi Arabia: Why Choose Shipa Freight?
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