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International shipping guide to US

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If you are sending goods by ocean & air freight to the US, you can take advantage of Shipa Freight’s partnerships with the world’s leading carriers. Our online platform gives you fast access to air cargo and LCL Shipping or FCL ocean freight shipping to the US from locations in around 100 countries.

We can also arrange domestic US logistics services to transport your freight from the port of arrival to its final destination.

If you are new to the process of international shipping to the US, you can find some useful information on this page, including approximate transit times for some of the most popular air and ocean freight routes and basic information about import standards and restrictions.

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Standards and Requirements for US Imports

We provide the details on this page purely for your information. As a Shipa Freight customer, you will not have to worry unduly about the customs and border formalities described here. Book your freight with us and we will take care of most of them for you, including the preparation and submission of document and declarations.

Entry Documentation for United States Freight from Overseas

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) stipulates that within 15 calendar days of an international shipment’s arrival at a U.S. port, entry documents must be filed at a location specified by the port director.

The documents to be filed are as follows:

  • A CBP Form 7533 (Entry Manifest), CBP Form 3461 (Application and Special Permit for Immediate Delivery) or possibly another form of merchandise release as required by the Port Director;
  • Evidence of right to make entry;
  • Commercial invoice (or a pro forma invoice if the commercial invoice is not available);
  • Packing lists (if appropriate).

If the value of the shipment exceeds $2,500, your freight forwarder must provide evidence that a bond has been posted with CBP to cover any duties, taxes, and charges that may accrue.

Other documents may also be necessary to determine the admissibility of your goods. Our platform has an integrated compliance engine to help customers prepare and complete the relevant documents for US imports.

Importer Security Filing for US Imports Arriving by Ocean

When shipping to US destinations using ocean freight, an electronic document, called an Importer Security Filing (ISF), must be submitted. The ISF must be transmitted in advance of the cargo’s arrival at the US port of entry.

List of Restricted US Imports

Certain types of goods and materials are restricted from importation into the United States. If you are considering shipping any products appearing on the list below, you should be aware of the relevant permissions, quotas, and requirements as applied by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency and/or other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA):

  • Cheese, Milk, and Dairy Products
  • Fruits, Vegetables, and Nuts
  • Insects
  • Livestock and animals
  • Meat, poultry, and egg products
  • Plants and plant products
  • Seeds
  • Tobacco-related products
  • Arms and ammunition
  • Household appliances
  • Industrial and commercial equipment
  • Children’s Toys
  • Bicycles and bicycle helmets
  • Fireworks
  • Flammable fabrics
  • Art materials
  • Cigarette and multi-purpose lighters
  • Electronic products
  • Radio frequency devices
  • Drug paraphernalia
  • Pesticides
  • Toxic, or hazardous substances
  • Petroleum products
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Motor vehicles and boats

This list is by no means exhaustive, and it is therefore essential to validate the admissibility of your planned US imports with the appropriate controlling agencies.

Ocean Freight Shipping to the United States

The following information will help you to familiarize yourself with some of the main ocean freight routes for shipping to the United States. While the information here only covers port-to-port shipping legs, Shipa Freight also offers port-to-door and door-to-door transportation to destinations anywhere within the US.

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Busiest Trade Lanes for US Shipping

Five of the most frequented routes to ports in the United States (in no particular order) are:

  • Shanghai (China) to Savannah (Georgia)
  • Shanghai (China) to Miami (Florida)
  • Shanghai (China) to Long Beach (California)
  • Busan (South Korea) to Oakland (California)
  • Qingdao (China) to Savannah (Georgia)

Ocean Shipping to US Destinations: Longest and Shortest Transit Times

The routes with the longest transit times to the United States typically originate in Asia and arrive on the US’s East Coast. For example, the route from Singapore to Norfolk, VA takes around 43 days to complete.

However, some of the shortest transit times are also achieved on Asia-US trade lanes, specifically the routes terminating on the West Coast of the US. One such example is the 10-day transit time from Busan, South Korea to the Californian ports of Los Angeles or Long Beach.

List of Ocean Routes for Shipping to United States

The list of ocean shipping routes shown below is not exhaustive, and simply presents some examples of the trade lanes that exist and the approximate transit times from port to port.

From Europe

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
Belgium Antwerp Mobile 30 Days
Belgium Antwerp Houston 19 Days
Belgium Antwerp New York 12 Days
Belgium Antwerp Savannah 17 Days
France Le Havre Mobile 22 Days
France Le Havre Savannah 13 Days
France Le Havre New York 7 Days
France Le Havre Houston 26 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Mobile 24 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Houston 16 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Charleston 11 Days
Germany Bremerhaven Savannah 18 Days
Germany Bremerhaven New York 10 Days
Italy Naples Savannah 22 Days
Italy Genoa Savannah 17 Days
Italy Genoa New York 12 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Mobile 26 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Houston 17 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Savannah 17 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam Norfolk 10 Days
Netherlands Rotterdam New York 12 Days
Spain Barcelona New Orleans 24 Days
Spain Valencia Savannah 16 Days
Spain Valencia New York 11 Days
Spain Valencia Houston 20 Days
Spain Algeciras New York 9 Days
Spain Algeciras Savannah 13 Days
Spain Algeciras Houston 17 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Seattle 19 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Mobile 28 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Savannah 18 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe New York 11 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Baltimore 14 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Norfolk 16 Days
United Kingdom Felixstowe Savannah 18 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway New York 15 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Savannah 20 Days
United Kingdom London Gateway Seattle 23 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Seattle 23 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Charleston 22 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Savannah 20 Days
United Kingdom Southampton Norfolk 17 Days
United Kingdom Southampton New York 15 Days

From South/Central America

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
Brazil Rio Grande New Orleans 28 Days
Chile San Antonio New York 20 Days
Colombia Cartagena Savannah 15 Days
Colombia Cartagena Houston 10 Days
Colombia Cartagena Long Beach 27 Days
Colombia Buenaventura New York 9 Days
Honduras Puerto Cortes Savannah 13 Days
Honduras Puerto Cortes Houston 5 Days
Mexico Altamira Savannah 12 Days
Mexico Altamira Houston 2 Days
Panama Manzanillo Savannah 17 Days
Panama Colon New York 8 Days
Panama Colon Savannah 8 Days
Panama Manzanillo Charleston 11 Days
Peru Callao New York 14 Days

From Asia

Country of Origin Port of Origin Destination Port Duration
China Xiamen Miami 42 Days
China Shanghai Long Beach 17 Days
China Dalian Long Beach 24 Days
China Ningbo Long Beach 15 Days
China Qingdao Long Beach 19 Days
China Shanghai Los Angeles 18 Days
China Ningbo Los Angeles 20 Days
China Qingdao Los Angeles 19 Days
China Qingdao Savannah 29 Days
China Ningbo Savannah 27 Days
China Shanghai Savannah 26 Days
China Shanghai Tacoma 12 Days
China Shanghai Oakland 22 Days
China Xiamen Los Angeles 13 Days
China Ningbo Tacoma 11 Days
China Qingdao Tacoma 21 Days
China Qingdao Oakland 26 Days
China Ningbo Seattle 17 Days
China Ningbo Houston 28 Days
China Xiamen Houston 27 Days
China Shanghai Seattle 13 Days
China Shanghai Charleston 29 Days
China Ningbo Oakland 19 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Miami 40 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Savannah 31 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Houston 26 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Los Angeles 15 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Long Beach 15 Days
Hong Kong Hong Kong Tacoma 22 Days
Indonesia Jakarta Los Angeles 23 Days
Japan Yokohama Oakland 18 Days
Japan Yokohama Los Angeles 16 Days
Japan Kobe Los Angeles 14 Days
Japan Kobe Long Beach 14 Days
Japan Yokohama Long Beach 16 Days
Malaysia Tanjung Pelepas Oakland 28 Days
Malaysia Port Klang Los Angeles 27 Days
Malaysia Port Klang New York 25 Days
Singapore Singapore Norfolk 43 Days
Singapore Singapore Miami 32 Days
Singapore Singapore New York 25 Days
Singapore Singapore Los Angeles 24 Days
South Korea Busan Savannah 28 Days
South Korea Busan Houston 21 Days
South Korea Busan Los Angeles 10 Days
South Korea Busan Long Beach 14 Days
South Korea Busan New York 30 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Miami 42 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Seattle 20 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Los Angeles 13 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Long Beach 13 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Savannah 26 Days
Taiwan Kaohsiung Tacoma 17 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Los Angeles 19 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Oakland 22 Days
Thailand Laem Chabang Long Beach 19 Days
Vietnam Vung Tau Miami 35 Days
Vietnam Vung Tau Los Angeles 16 Days
Vietnam Vung Tau New York 26 Days
Vietnam Vung Tau Long Beach 17 Days

US Shipping by Air Cargo Carrier

The following information covers some of the main air freight routes for shipping to the United States. While the information here only covers airport-to-airport shipping legs, Shipa Freight also offers port-to-door and door-to-door transportation to destinations anywhere within the US.

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Busiest Air freight Routes for US Imports

Five of the busiest air freight routes to the United States (in no particular order) are:

  • Mexico City (Mexico) to New York
  • Mexico City (Mexico) to Dallas
  • London (United Kingdom) to Los Angeles
  • Frankfurt (Germany) to Chicago
  • Frankfurt (Germany) to New York

Longest and Shortest Transit Times for Air freight Shipping to US

The longest transit times for air freight to United States destinations typically originate in Asia. For example, a cargo flight from Singapore to Los Angeles takes around 16 hours.

Meanwhile, the shortest international air freight routes to the US originate in the neighboring countries of Canada and Mexico, as well as from airports in the Caribbean and Central America. For instance, freight traveling from Guatemala to Miami is in the air for no more than two hours.

List of Air freight Routes for Shipping to United States

The list below comprises a sample selection of the routes in use by air freight carriers serving the United States. Many other air freight lanes exist, enabling us to fly cargo to US airports from 100 countries around the world.

From Europe

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
Belgium Brussels Chicago 9 Hours
France Paris San Francisco 11 Hours
France Paris Chicago 9 Hours
Germany Frankfurt New York 8 Hours
Germany Munich New York 9 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Boston 8 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Philadelphia 9 Hours
Germany Munich Charlotte 10 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Chicago 9 Hours
Germany Munich Chicago 9 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Dallas 11 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Houston 11 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Detroit 9 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Atlanta 10 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Denver 10 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Los Angeles 11 Hours
Germany Munich Los Angeles 12 Hours
Germany Frankfurt San Francisco 11 Hours
Germany Munich San Francisco 12 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Miami 10 Hours
Germany Munich Denver 10 Hours
Germany Frankfurt Seattle 10 Hours
Germany Dusseldorf New York 8 Hours
Germany Dusseldorf Miami 10 Hours
Austria Vienna Chicago 10 Hours
Austria Vienna Los Angeles 12 Hours
Austria Vienna Miami 11 Hours
Italy Rome Los Angeles 13 Hours
Italy Rome Chicago 10 Hours
United Kingdom London Houston 10 Hours
United Kingdom London Denver 9 Hours
United Kingdom London San Francisco 11 Hours
Ireland Dublin Los Angeles 11 Hours
Ireland Dublin Chicago 8 Hours
Netherlands Amsterdam Houston 10 Hours
Netherlands Amsterdam Chicago 9 Hours
Switzerland Zurich Philadelphia 9 Hours

From South/Central America

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
Chile Santiago Miami 9 Hours
Colombia Bogota Miami 4 Hours
Dominican Republic Santo Domingo Miami 2 Hours
Ecuador Quito Miami 4 Hours
Guatemala Guatemala City Miami 2 Hours
Honduras San Pedro Sula Miami 2 Hours
Mexico Mexico City Dallas 3 Hours
Mexico Mexico City New York 5 Hours
Nicaragua Managua Miami 3 Hours

From Asia

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
China Shanghai Los Angeles 12 Hours
China Beijing Chicago 13 Hours
Hong Kong Hong Kong Chicago 15 Hours
Hong Kong Hong Kong Cincinnati 15 Hours
Japan Tokyo Los Angeles 10 Hours
Japan Tokyo San Diego 10 Hours
Japan Tokyo New York 13 Hours
Japan Tokyo Boston 13 Hours
Japan Tokyo Chicago 12 Hours
Japan Tokyo Dallas 12 Hours
Japan Tokyo San Francisco 10 Hours
Japan Tokyo Seattle 9 Hours
Japan Osaka Los Angeles 11 Hours
Singapore Singapore Houston 16 Hours
Singapore Singapore San Francisco 16 Hours
Singapore Singapore Los Angeles 16 Hours
Taiwan Taipei Los Angeles 15 Hours
Taiwan Taipei Chicago 14 Hours
Taiwan Taipei New York 15 Hours

From the Middle East

Country of Origin Airport of Origin Destination Airport Duration(Approx.)
Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi Los Angeles 16 Hours
Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi New York 14 Hours
Qatar Doha Atlanta 15 Hours
Qatar Doha Chicago 14 Hours
Qatar Doha Dallas 15 Hours
Qatar Doha Houston 16 Hours
Qatar Doha Los Angeles 16 Hours
Qatar Doha Miami 15 Hours
Qatar Doha New York 13 Hours

United States Freight Imports Made Simple

Shipping your commercial air & sea freight to the US has never been easier. If you have any questions that are not answered on this page, please contact the Shipa Freight team using our online form.

You can find more information about international shipping in our Knowledge Series articles. When you’re ready to go ahead and ship, just visit our homepage and get an instant online air freight or ocean freight quote.

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