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Ocean and Air Shipping from Brazil to the US

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As two of the biggest economies in the Americas, the United States and Brazil enjoy a fruitful commercial relationship. Two-way trade in goods and services has reached $103.9 billion in 2018. The United States is Brazil’s second-largest trading partner and export market, while Brazil is also a growing market for U.S. exports.

In 2011, the two nations signed the Agreement on Trade and Economic Cooperation to deepen their collaboration on trade and investments. Recently, however, voices demanding a Free Trade Agreement grew louder. Such an accord could significantly improve bilateral relations and benefit both economies.

This development is promising for businesses looking to import from Brazil to the US. Nonetheless, companies still need to maneuver the traditional complexities of ocean and air freight shipping when managing their supply chain. Luckily, both countries have a large number of international ports and airports with excellent connections.

If you would like to learn more about ocean and air shipping from Brazil to the US, then you will find a lot of essential information right here on this page.

How to Ship Ocean Freight From Brazil to the US

Freight forwarding professional leaning on a stack of cartons, adjacent to the flags of Brazil and the United States

Sea freight is the most common and economical way to transport cargo from Brazil to the US. Most of Brazil’s economic hubs are located somewhere along its 7,491 km coastline, providing easy access to ocean shipping. Unless you need to ship break-bulk materials, your cargo will be transported in a shipping container from Brazil to a US port by a carrier of your choice.

There are two alternatives for containerized shipping. Which one you choose will depend on the volume, weight, and nature of your goods. The first option is a full container load (FCL).

The second option is hiring space in a shared container, called less than container load (LCL).

Let’s examine both options in detail.

Less than Container Load (LCL) From Brazil to the US

LCL is typically less expensive when you want to ship smaller quantities of freight from Brazil to the US by sea, especially if you are sending six standard pallets, which is equivalent to 14 CBM, or less. In this case, an LCL shipment will usually be cheaper than renting a full container.

However, LCL means that your cargo will be combined with those of other shippers when it is packed into a 20ft or 40ft container. This can influence the overall transit time required to ship your goods in a container from Brazil to the US, as well as the state of your goods.

Because the container requires consolidation before export and de-consolidation upon import, the transit time will usually be a little longer than for an FCL. Also, your cargo will be moved around much more, which can put perishable or delicate goods at risk.
Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) From Brazil to the US

If you want your cargo to reach the United States as soon as possible without it being handled more than necessary, FCL might be the better option for your business. FCL means renting a full container for your exclusive use at a flat rate. This has the following advantages.

Your cargo travels, sealed in a container by your supplier, from Brazil to the US where it will be unloaded and transported directly to its final destination on land. Unless customs officials inspected the container, this is when you or your buyer will open it and unload the goods.

FCL is usually less expensive than LCL if you are shipping more than 14 CBM, which amounts to half of the load capacity of a 20ft container. Even if you want to transport less than this amount, it might still be more economical to book a full container. Very heavy or delicate cargo is better off in a separate container.
Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Origin in Brazil


Port Facts:

  • Closest port to Brazil’s commercial hub, São Paulo.
  • Largest ocean port in Latin America.
  • Busiest container port in Brazil.
  • Features a wide variety of terminals handling solid and liquid bulk, containers, and general loads.

Owned By: Federal Government of Brazil.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located southwest of São Paulo, close to the city of Curitiba in the state of Paraná.
  • Third-largest container port in Brazil.
  • Established in 1872.

Owned By: Administração dos Portos de Paranaguá e Antonina.

Annual Container Volume: >2 million TEUs.


Rio Grande Do Sul

Port Facts:

  • Fast-growing port in the south of Brazil.
  • Home of the leading container terminal in the country.
  • Capable of handling the largest vessels.
  • Manages a high volume of Brazilian exports.

Annual Container Volume: >700,000 TEUs.


Port of Salvador

Port Facts:

  • Main port for Brazil’s state of Bahia.
  • Immune to tidal fluctuations as its located in a sheltered harbor.
  • Features a 700-meter wide anchoring area.
  • Benefits from multiple road and rail connections with Brazil’s interior.

Owned By: Companhia das Docas do Estado da Bahia (CODEBA).

Annual Container Volume: >300,000 TEUs.


Rio de Janeiro

Port Facts:

  • Third-busiest port in Brazil with mostly cruise ships landing here.
  • Located on the west coast of the Guanabara Bay.
  • Features almost 7,000 meters of continuous wharf and an 883-meter pier.
  • Underwent substantial development for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Owned By: Companhia Docas do Rio de Janeiro.

Annual Container Volume: >170,000 TEUs.


Other Ports in Brazil

In addition to the five ports mentioned above, the following container export gateways are available in Brazil, from which you can ship goods to the US:

  • Itajai
  • Itapoa
  • Navegantes
  • Itaguai

Cargo Ports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles

Port Facts:

  • Largest port in the US, covering nearly 70 km of California coastline.
  • One-fifth of all cargo entering the United States arrives at this port.
  • Facilities include eight container terminals and more than 80 cranes.

Owned By: City of Los Angeles.

Annual Container Volume: >9 million TEUs.


Long Beach

Port Facts:

  • Located right alongside the Port of Los Angeles.
  • Second-busiest container port in the US.
  • Occupies 40 km of waterfront in the city of Long Beach.

Owned By: City of Long Beach.

Annual Container Volume: >8 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located 30 km from the ocean on the Savannah river in the state of Georgia.
  • Home to the largest container terminal in North America.
  • Best choice for importers in the east and midwest given the access to interstate highways.

Owned By: Georgia Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Ideal for businesses in the northwestern states.
  • One of the largest container terminals on the west coast.
  • Planned redevelopment will increase container capacity and provide berths for the world's largest container vessels.

Owned By: Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Annual Container Volume: >3.5 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on Dodge Island in the Biscayne Bay.
  • Closest U.S. port to Brazil and known as the Cargo Gateway of the Americas.
  • Ninth-largest container port in the US and the largest in Florida.
  • Largest passenger port in the world.

Owned By: Multiple owners.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.


Other Ports in the US

Aside from the five container ports mentioned above, the following ports are suitable for importing cargo into the US from Brazil:

  • New York
  • Houston
  • San Francisco
  • Oakland
  • New Orleans
  • Boston
  • Baltimore
  • Atlanta
  • Charleston
  • Norfolk
  • Tacoma
  • Port Everglades
  • Mobile

Air Freight From Brazil to the US

Ideal for time-sensitive shipments or high-value cargo, air shipping can cut your transit time considerably. With daily flights from Brazil to the US, shipping via air is fast and flexible. Keep in mind that it might be much more expensive than sending your goods via sea, though. That’s why most shippers choose air freight only for small consignments of a few pallets or for high-value, perishable, or very delicate products.

Of course there are other situations in which it makes sense to ship more general goods as air freight though. For example, if the supplier and the recipient are both located close to an international airport in their respective countries, air freight might be as viable as shipping by sea.
Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Airports of Origin in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Airport Facts:

  • Second-busiest airport in Brazil.
  • Located 20 km north of downtown Rio de Janeiro.
  • Known as Galeão International Airport.
  • Underwent major upgrades for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics.

US Airports Served: Atlanta, Miami, Houston.

Rio De Janeiro to US Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.


São Paulo - Guarulhos

Airport Facts:

  • Busiest airport for international cargo in Brazil and the second busiest in Latin America.
  • Has two parallel runways that have been extended and widened to receive the Airbus A380.
  • Features a 97,000 square meter cargo terminal
  • The terminal can handle refrigerated and hazardous shipments, as well as general goods.

US Airports Served: Miami, Atlanta, Orlando, New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, Houston.

Sao Paulo Guarulhos to US Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.


Sao Paulo - Viracopos

Airport Facts:

  • Located 82 km northwest of Sao Paulo.
  • Second busiest cargo airport in Brazil.
  • Major import and export hub.
  • Features 77,000 square meters of cargo terminals.

US Airports Served: Fort Lauderdale, Orlando.

Sao Paulo Viracopos to US Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Located in the capital of the state of Paraná in the south of Brazil
  • Has undergone a major upgrade to the cargo terminal and runway in 2008.
  • No direct flights to the US available.

US Airports Served: None.

Curitiba to US Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Airports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles

Airport Facts:

  • 10th busiest cargo airport in the world.
  • More than two million tons of cargo passed through LAX in 2018.
  • Approximately 1,000 flights per day arrive at LAX with cargo onboard.

Connected Airports in Brazil: São Paulo Guarulhos.

Brazil to Los Angeles Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • 15th busiest cargo airport in the world in 2018.
  • Handles more than two million tons of freight per year.
  • Trumps LAX, and all other US airports, for international freight volume.

Connected Airports in Brazil: Brasilia, Belem, Manaus, Recife, Fortaleza, São Paulo, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro.

Brazil to Miami Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Third major cargo airport in the US.
  • Shipped over 1.8 million tons of cargo in 2018.
  • Features a 185,000 square meter freight terminal.
  • Has two sets of parallel runways.

Connected Airports in Brazil: São Paulo Guarulhos.

Brazil to Chicago Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.


New York

Airport Facts:

  • John F. Kennedy Airport is the number one international air freight gateway into the US.
  • Located in the district of Queens, New York.
  • Almost 100 air cargo carriers operate out of JFK.

Connected Airports in Brazil: São Paulo Guarulhos.

Brazil to New York Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Dallas/Fort Worth

Airport Facts:

  • Fourth busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements.
  • Close to 2,000 tons of freight are moved every day.
  • Largest hub of American Airlines.

Connected Airports in Brazil: São Paulo Guarulhos.

Brazil to Dallas Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in the US

Besides the five airports mentioned above, you can also route your cargo from Brazil to the following destinations in the United States:

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • Denver
  • El Paso
  • Houston
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • San Diego
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Sacramento

Customs Clearance Procedures in Brazil and US

Customs stamp of wood and rubber, resting on a customs invoice document stamped with export customs clearance in red ink

Customs clearance is something you can’t get around when you import or export from Brazil to the US. At first, this can seem like an intimidating process. But, with an experienced freight forwarder like Shipa Freight by your side, you will see that it is only a small hurdle to take. We will provide the necessary guidance and expertise to make customs clearance as painless as possible for you.

We will advise which documents you will need to provide. Usually, customs authorities request the following:

  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)

All of the mentioned documents should be provided by the exporter (shipper) and the importer of the goods, except for the Bill of Lading. Have a look at our handy documents list for more information and examples.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From Brazil to the US?

Before you make a final decision whether you send your cargo by sea or air from Brazil to the US, you will want to know for how long your cargo will be traveling. The transit times of ocean and air freight can vary considerably.

Air freight is the fastest option. However, keep in mind that it will still take a couple of days, considering that your cargo has to undergo customs and security checks, as well as loading and unloading. The air cargo transit time between Brazil and the United States is usually ten days.

The transit times for ocean freight will vary depending on your destination. If you are planning to ship to the south or east coast of the US, then your transit time will be relatively short. Reaching the west coast of the country will take considerably longer. In general, you can expect shipping durations anywhere between 21 and 53 days.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From Brazil to the US?

Here are a few examples of transit times for routes that Shipa Freight operates between Brazil and the United States:

  • Santos to Miami – 21 days FCL, 45 days LCL
  • Santos to New York – 21 days FCL, 29 days LCL
  • Santos to Philadelphia – 21 days FCL, 35 days LCL
  • Santos to Houston – 31 days FCL, 42 days LCL
  • Santos to Los Angeles – 29 days FCL
  • Rio de Janeiro to Miami – 53 days LCL
  • Itajai to Houston – 52 days LCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From Brazil to the US?

Here are a few examples of transit times for typical air freight routes between Brazil and the United States:

  • Sao Paulo to San Francisco – 10 days
  • Sao Paulo to New York – 10 days
  • Rio de Janeiro to Miami – 10 days

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From Brazil to the US?

Several factors are at play when it comes to determining the final cost of transporting your goods from Brazil to the United States. Freight forwarders will take into consideration:

  • Nature of goods
  • Chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL, Air)
  • Weight of the cargo
  • Dimension of the cargo
  • Distance between origin and destination
  • Delivery terms

Shipping cargo of less than 100 kg? Then you might find little difference between the cost of air freight and LCL ocean freight. You can simply opt for the quicker option in this case. For consignments above 100 kg, sea freight is typically less expensive than air freight.

If your shipment weighs less than 35 kg, then we would advise you to engage an international courier service instead of a freight forwarder. Shipa Freight doesn’t ship cargo in this weight bracket.

Why Ship From Brazil to the US With Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight makes importing from Brazil to the US easier than ever – no matter which mode of transport you choose. Use our online portal to manage your entire shipment process conveniently in one place. No more do you have to coordinate with multiple agencies to satisfy your logistics needs.

What are the Shipa Freight benefits?

  • You can receive and compare quotes online instantaneously.
  • You can place your booking directly online without losing time.
  • You will know exactly which shipping documentation to prepare thanks to our integrated compliance engine.
  • You can manage all of your imports and exports on one platform.
  • You can talk to a human whenever you need help – we’re available 24/7.
  • You can always guarantee compliance with shipping rules and regulations.

Want to give Shipa Freight a try? To get started, simply fill out the form at the top of this page.

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