Ocean & Air Freight Shipping to Spain [Updated: Jul 2021]
Shipa Freight, air cargo and cargo ship for freight to Spain
Spain imported $338.6 billion worth of goods in 2017. Germany, France, China, Italy, and the USA were the top five countries of origin for those imports. Wherever you’re looking to export to Spain from, this page will be useful to you. It contains information and guidance that will help you ship air or ocean freight to Spain more simply and effectively.
Spain has plenty of major seaports and airports. So you can ship commercial goods using ocean or air freight carriers. Each mode of shipping has advantages and disadvantages that we’ll highlight on this page.
Ocean Freight to Spain
Less than Container Load (LCL): If you don’t want to hire a whole container to ship your goods to Spain, you don’t have to. LCL lets you move your freight in a shared container. It’s ideal for smaller consignments that can’t be transported as air freight.
Full Container Load (FCL): This mode of shipping requires you to rent a container for your exclusive use. You can partially or fully load it with your goods, and it will be sealed ahead of export to Spain. It’s often the quickest form of ocean shipping and sometimes the cheapest in terms of transportation cost per unit.
Air Freight to Spain
Air freight is the fastest way to get goods to Spain. A freight forwarder can book consignments aboard cargo-only services or passenger flights into Spain’s key international airports. But air cargo is a lot more expensive than ocean shipping.
Any quote you get for a shipment by air or ocean to Spain will be influenced by the following:
- The type of goods you want to ship to Spain
- Whether you want to use air, FCL ocean, or LCL ocean shipping
- The size, weight, and volume of your cargo
- The point of origin for your consignment and its destination in Spain
- Your preferred mode of delivery—door-to-port, port-to-door, port-to-port, or door-to-door
The weight of your consignment not only affects shipping rates—it can also influence your choice of shipping mode. For goods weighing above 100 kg, ocean shipping is usually the most cost-efficient option. For goods weighing under 100 kg, you’re unlikely to find much of a price difference between air and ocean shipping. In this case, most shippers choose the fastest option.
If you’re looking to transport a consignment that weighs 35 kg or less, international couriers will be better placed to help you, as freight forwarders focus on heavier shipments.
The time taken to transport cargo to Spain depends on whereabouts in the world your shipment originates. As a general guide, air freight from any major international airport in the world takes between two and eight days to receive import customs clearance in Spain.
As you might expect, ocean shipping is a slower process. Cargo vessels transporting commercial goods in containers to Spain travel at a rate of around 35 kilometers per hour. So if you’re shipping from Australia to Spain, you’ll need to allow six to seven weeks for your goods to arrive. Whereas from locations a little closer, such as Miami, shipping can be completed in around 30 days.
All ocean transit times will be affected by your choice of FCL or LCL shipping. These terms are explained on this page.
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea to Spain?
Below are examples of ocean freight shipping durations for Spain-bound consignments from various global locations:
|Country of Origin||Port of Origin||Destination Port||Transit Time LCL||Transit Time FCL|
|China||Guangzhou||Barcelona||39 Days||41 Days|
|China||Guangzhou||Bilbao||41 Days||41 Days|
|China||Ningbo||Valencia||27 Days||32 Days|
|China||Shanghai||Algeciras||41 Days||41 Days|
|China||Shanghai||Valencia||40 Days||34 Days|
|China||Shanghai||Barcelona||32 Days||32 Days|
|China||Shekou||Valencia||28 Days||27 Days|
|China||Shenzhen||Barcelona||26 Days||26 Days|
|China||Xiamen||Barcelona||40 Days||41 Days|
|India||Nhava Sheva||Barcelona||25 Days|
|India||Nhava Sheva||Valencia||27 Days|
|Thailand||Laem Chabang||Algeciras||38 Days|
|United Arab Emirates||Jebel Ali||Barcelona||28 Days|
|United Arab Emirates||Jebel Ali||Valencia||29 Days|
|USA||New York||Barcelona||28 Days||35 Days|
|USA||Houston||Barcelona||25 Days||25 Days|
|USA||Oakland||Valencia||42 Days||42 Days|
|USA||Long Beach||Barcelona||35 Days|
|USA||Long Beach||Valencia||28 Days|
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air to Spain?
The transit-time examples below show that goods can be transported to Spain by air in two to eight days:
|Country of Origin||Airport of Origin||Destination Airport||Transit Time|
|USA||Los Angeles||Barcelona||5 Days|
|USA||New York||Bilbao||5 Days|
When shipping to Spain, all businesses must adhere to specific shipping rules and regulations. These can be complex, which is why many companies hire freight forwarders to manage the process. It’s an option you should consider. Using experts can help you avoid unnecessary delays affecting your shipping, and forwarders will ensure your consignment complies with Spanish customs rules.
You will still need to submit specific documents with your consignment. We’ve listed the ones Spanish customs officials—and those at your port of origin—will almost certainly insist upon:
- A Commercial Invoice
- A Packing List
- A Certificate of Origin
- A Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
- A Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)
To see samples of the paperwork we’ve listed above, please visit this documents list page. You may also need to supply other documents, such as licenses, permits, and/or certificates.
Spain has extensive northern and southern coastlines, as well as a small western seaboard. There are ports on all three that are served by many of the world’s major ocean shipping lines.
Your consignment will most likely be shipped to Spain in a standard 20ft or 40ft container aboard a cargo vessel. You can hire a container exclusively for your goods—known as a full container load (FCL) shipment. Or you can choose to send your freight in a shared container—which is known as less-than-container-load (LCL) shipping.
To help you decide which is best for you, we deal with both in a little more detail below.
Less Than Container Load (LCL) Shipping to Spain
Businesses tend to choose this option for their Spain-bound cargo if it’s:
- Relatively small
- Not urgent
- Able to be shipped alongside other goods in a shared container
- Too big to ship aboard an aircraft
- Not permitted as air freight for safety reasons
Many companies find LCL the most cost-effective way to ship to Spain. But there are downsides.
For example, you don’t get to choose which goods your freight shares a container with. Also, consolidation and deconsolidation of goods is required—a time-consuming logistics necessity. For that reason, LCL shipping can sometimes take longer than FCL.
With this in mind, it might be best to avoid LCL shipping to Spain if:
- Your cargo is very valuable, fragile, or has a short shelf-life
- You don’t want your goods handled more than is necessary
- Delays to your shipping aren’t acceptable
- Your consignment is extremely large and/or heavy
Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.
Full Container Load (FCL) Shipping to Spain
This could be right your business if:
- Your consignment has to be in Spain by a specified date
- It’s big enough to take up at least half the capacity of a standard 20ft container—14CBM or over
- Your goods are delicate or heavy, so not suited to being shipped in a shared container
- You want the option of sealing your container at the point of origin and for it to remain sealed throughout the shipping process.
Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.
Cargo Ports of Arrival in Spain
- Close to Portugal on Spain’s west coast
- Container terminal covers a 130,000 square meter site
- Facilities include a modern terminal in Comercio Quay that’s specifically for fruit products
Owned By: Autoridad Portuaria de Vigo
Annual Container Volume: >200,000 TEUs.
- The biggest seaport in the Mediterranean, and 29th-busiest in the world
- A top-five European port for containerized goods processing
- Facilities include a kilometer of storage space and a 12 kilometer-long quayside
- Access to the AP7 and AP36 roads for quick onward distribution
- Located 21 kilometers from Valencia Airport
Owned By: Port Authority of Valencia.
Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.
- Spain’s third-largest port
- Europe’s ninth-busiest ocean cargo facility
- Has two international freight terminals and 17 container cranes
- Was Europe’s fastest-growing seaport in 2017
Owned By: Puerto del Estado.
Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.
- Located in Bilbao Abra Bay in Northern Spain
- Just 15 km from Bilbao city center
- Occupies a 350-hectare site
- An expansion project completed in 2019 extended the area for unloading containers from 18,000 square meters to 41,000 square meters
Owned By: Port of Bilbao Authority.
Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.
- Located on Spain’s south coast close to Gibraltar
- Ranked the third-busiest seaport in the Mediterranean
- Regarded as a benchmark for logistics excellence in the region
- Infrastructure includes two container terminals
Owned By: Autoridad Portuaria de la Bahía de Algeciras.
Annual Container Volume: >4.5 million TEUs.
Companies choose air shipping for many reasons. You should consider it if:
- You are shipping fragile freight or goods with a short shelf-life
- Your cargo is needed urgently in Spain
- Your consignment is a small one—three pallets at most
- Your consignee in Spain is located closer to an international airport than a seaport
- You are shipping valuable goods and desire tight security
Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.
Airports of Arrival in Spain
Bilbao (IATA Code: BIO)
- The largest airport in Northern Spain and the Basque region
- A new terminal opened here in 2000
- Infrastructure includes two runways, 2,600 meters and 2,000 meters long respectively
- Ideal arrival point for goods required in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Miranda de Ebro, Santander, and Donostia-San Sebastian
Madrid (IATA Code: MAD)
- Also known as Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas Airport
- It’s the second-largest airport in Europe
- Ranks as Spain’s leading cargo hub
- Located nine kilometers from Madrid city center
- Over 200 freight companies operate services on this 40-hectare site
Barcelona (IATA Code: BCN)
- Officially called Barcelona El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport
- Freight facilities cover a 40-hectare site
- Has three runways and three terminals
- Serves Catalonia, Saint-Boi, Viladecans, and Llobregat
Shipa Freight’s online platform makes it easier for businesses to ship commercial goods to Spain. The website lets companies track every step of their shipment to its destination in Spain. Quick quotes and price comparisons are also available. Booking and paying for consignments is straightforward too. We accept credit and debit cards as well as wire transfers.
There are plenty more reasons to choose Shipa Freight for all your shipping to Spain:
- Our customer service team is ready 24/7 to provide a phone, email, or live chat support service
- We’ll make the complex world of customs simple for you to navigate
- Be assured that your shipment will adhere to international rules and regulations
- You can rely on us to ensure the right documentation accompanies your shipment
- What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight to Spain?
- How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo to Spain?
- How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo to Spain?
- Import Customs Clearance in Spain
- Ship Ocean Freight to Spain: FCL or LCL?
- Air Shipping for Your Freight to Spain
- Ocean and Air Shipping to Spain: Why Choose Shipa Freight?
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