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Ocean and Air Freight Shipping From France to the US

Information and quote from France to the US for LCL, FCL and Air shipping

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Updated on 04 Jul 202113 min read

Franco-American trade relations go all the way back to 1776 when the US gained independence. France was one of the first allies of the United States and is now their third-largest trading partner in Europe (after Germany and the U.K.).

If you are planning to import from France to the US, then you are in the right place. This page will help you navigate the intricacies of international ocean and air freight logistics.

We want to provide you with the guidance that you need to simplify ocean and air shipping from France to the US, and hence, help you save time and effort.

What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight From France to the US?

Flags of France and the US for the tradelane with Shipa Freight When importing from France to the US, you have two options: ocean freight and air freight. Let’s examine both of them.

Ocean Freight From France to the US

Less than Container Load (LCL): You don’t necessarily need to hire a full container to transport your cargo from France to the US. LCL allows you to rent space in a shared container. That makes this mode of transportation the most economical option in many instances.

Full Container Load (FCL): With FCL, you are hiring an entire container for your exclusive use. Because you are paying a flat fee for the full container, FCL can be less expensive than LCL in some cases.

Air Freight from France to the US

If speed is of the essence, air shipping will get your goods to the US as quickly as possible. Keep in mind, though, that it is often much more costly than sea freight.

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

How much you will pay for shipping your cargo from France to the United States depends on several factors. Freight forwarders typically base their quotes on the following factors:

  • 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)

So, how do the different shipping methods compare with regard to cost? As a general rule of thumb, the price for air freight and ocean freight won’t differ much when you are shipping consignments of less than 100 kg. Simply opt for the quicker option in this case. If you are planning to ship goods of 100 kg or more, then sea freight is typically less expensive than air freight.

You also need to know that most freight forwarders, including Shipa Freight, won’t handle cargo of 35 kg or less. An international courier service will be the best choice for you in this case.

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

The transit times of ocean and air shipping differ significantly. Freight forwarders can transport your cargo via air in as little as two days. You have to consider that although the flight time is just a few hours, your cargo also needs to pass customs and security checks. This adds to the overall travel time.

The transit time for shipping a container from France to the US will widely vary by destination. If your goods are destined for the East Coast of the US, they will arrive quicker than if you have to ship to the West Coast. In general, you can expect durations between 12 and 41 days.

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

Calendar to represent transit time for Shipa Freight shipments Here are a few examples of transit times for routes that Shipa Freight operates between France and the United States:

  • Fos-sur-Mer to Houston – 27 days FCL
  • Fos-sur-Mer to Los Angeles – 41 days FCL
  • Fos-sur-Mer to New York – 12 days LCL
  • Fos-sur-Mer to Norfolk – 31 days FCL
  • Le Havre to Boston or Houston – 21 days LCL
  • Le Havre to New York - 13 days FCL

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

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

  • Paris to Los Angeles – 4 days
  • Paris to Chicago O’Hare or New York – 5 days
  • Paris to Dallas/Fort Worth or San Francisco – 8 days
  • Lyon to Dallas/Fort Worth – 5 days

Customs Clearance in France and the US

You can’t get around customs formalities when you export from France to the US. If you don’t dare to manage this process internally, like most businesses, the services of an experienced freight forwarder will minimize the risk of hiccups and delays. Besides, you have the guarantee that everything will be done according to the existing laws and regulations.

Engaging a freight forwarder doesn’t mean that you won’t be involved at all in the customs clearance process. You will still be responsible for providing the required documents. Typically, the 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)

Sometimes you might need to provide further documentation, such as licenses, permits, or certificates. If so, your freight forwarder will notify you immediately. To learn more about these documents and see some examples, check out our handy documents list.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Sea freight is an excellent option for transporting your cargo across the Atlantic Ocean. Usually, a specialized cargo vessel will carry your goods in a shipping container from France to the US. In case you plan to ship cargo that won’t fit into a container, your forwarder or carrier can recommend other options, such as break-bulk shipping.

When it comes to containerized ocean shipping, there are two options: LCL and FCL. Both alternatives can be booked as port-to-port or door-to-door services. Choose the best one for your needs depending on the weight, volume, and nature of your goods.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

LCL is right for you if:

  • You want to ship small quantities of 14 CBM or less (around six standard pallets).
  • You need your goods in the US urgently.
  • You aren’t sure which container size you need.
  • Your cargo can share a container with other consignments.
  • Air freight is not a viable option for you.

LCL might not be right for you if:

  • Your cargo is delicate, perishable, or of high-value.
  • Your cargo is very large or very heavy.
  • Your cargo shouldn’t be moved and handled more than absolutely necessary.
  • You don’t want any delays with regard to the delivery date.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

FCL is right for you if:

  • You require your cargo to reach the United States by a certain date.
  • You prefer that your cargo is sealed in a container until it reaches its final recipient.
  • You have to transport more than 14 CBM (around half the load capacity of a 20ft container).
  • Your cargo is delicate or very heavy.

FCL might not be right for you if:

  • Your supplier or buyer can’t handle full containers at their facilities.
  • You want your cargo to move as soon as possible, but you don’t have enough goods to justify paying for a full container.

Air Freight

Air shipping is right for you if:

  • Your goods have a very short shelf-life.
  • You need your cargo in the US within a few days.
  • Speed is more important for you than costs.
  • You are shipping high-value goods and require the highest levels of security.
  • You need to ship only small, light consignments of a few pallets or less.
  • Your supplier and recipient are both situated close to an international airport.

Air shipping might not be right for you if:

  • Your goods are very bulky or awkwardly shaped.
  • You want to keep shipping costs as low as possible.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in France

Le Havre

Port Facts:

  • Second-largest port in France, and the country’s first-ever container port.
  • Located on the northern coast of France, under 200 km from Paris.
  • Railroad connections offer access to and from locations across Europe.
  • Facilities include three terminals for handling freight and 6.5 km of docks.

Owned By: Grande Port Maritime du Havre.

Annual Container Volume: >2.8 million TEUs.


Fos Sur-Mer

Port Facts:

  • Situated on the shores of the Golfe de Fos, just under 40 km northeast of Marseille.
  • Great choice for shippers based in Marseille, Montpelier, Avignon, and other areas of southern France.

Owned By: Marseille Fos Port Authority.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles

Port Facts:

  • The US’s number one container port, handling 20% of all cargo entering the country.
  • Located in San Pedro Bay, around 40 km south of downtown Los Angeles.
  • Covers more than 70 km of California coastline.
  • 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 next to the Port of Los Angeles in California.
  • Second-busiest container sea port in the United States.
  • 10 piers and 62 berths stretch over 40 km of waterfront.
  • Serves 140 shipping lines with connections to 217 ports around the world.

Owned By: City of Long Beach.italic text >8 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on the Savannah River, 30 km from the Atlantic ocean in the state of Georgia.
  • Features the largest container terminal in North America.
  • Used to be the fastest-growing port in the United States.
  • Convenient access to interstate highways make it a convenient choice for importers in the East and Midwest states of the US.

Owned By: Georgia Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Boasts one of the largest container terminals on the U.S. west coast.
  • Great option for importers in the Northwestern states.
  • Container capacity to be increased.
  • Plans to provide berths for larger vessels are underway.

Owned By: Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Annual Container Volume: >3.5 million TEUs.


Port Everglades

Port Facts:

  • Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Tenth-busiest container seaport in the US.
  • More than 20 container shipping lines operate in Port Everglades.
  • Convenient direct access to Florida’s interstate network.
  • Expansion to increase capacity is underway.

Owned By: Broward County, Florida.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.


Other Ports in the US

Besides the five seaports mentioned above, the following container gateways are suited for importing cargo into the US from France:

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

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in France

Paris Charles de Gaulle

Airport Facts:

  • France’s largest international airport.
  • Twelfth-busiest globally and second-busiest in Europe (after Frankfurt Airport) for cargo traffic.
  • Located in Roissy-en-France, 23 km northeast of Paris.
  • The site covers 32 square kilometers.

US Airports Served: Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, Houston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Atlanta.

Paris to US Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Also known as Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport.
  • Serves the third-biggest city in France.
  • Located only 20 km outside of Lyon, close to the Lyon-Part-Dieu Business District.
  • Important transport facility for the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

US Airports Served: None.

Lyon to US Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • France’s third-largest air freight hub.
  • Located 27 km northwest of central Marseille.
  • Best choice to move goods originating in southern France.

US Airports Served: None.

Marseille to US Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Small airport, 10 km southwest of Strasbourg.
  • Has a single runway and one terminal.

US Airports Served: None.

Strasbourg to US Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Airports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles

Airport Facts:

  • Tenth-busiest airport in the world for cargo.
  • Over two million tons of cargo passed through this airport in 2018.
  • Ranks among top five U.S. airports for both passenger and cargo traffic.
  • Situated 30 km southwest of downtown Los Angeles.
  • 1,000 flights arrive with cargo onboard on a daily basis.

Connected Airports in France: Paris CDG.

France to Los Angeles Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Chicago O’Hare

Airport Facts:

  • Third major airport in the United States for cargo.
  • Shipped over 1.8 million tons of cargo in 2018.
  • Boasts a 185,000 square meter terminal exclusively for freight.
  • 15 wide-bodied cargo aircraft can load and unload simultaneously.

Connected Airports in France: Paris CDG.

France to Chicago O’Hare Cargo-Only Operators: None.


New York JFK

Airport Facts:

  • Airport with the highest cargo volume entering the US.
  • Sixth-busiest airport in the United States.
  • Located in the district of Queens, 26 km southeast of midtown Manhattan.
  • Spans over 21 square kilometers with four runways.

Connected Airports in France: Paris CDG. France to New York JFK Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: JFK.


Airport Facts:

  • Fifteenth-busiest airport in the world for cargo.
  • Has the biggest international freight volume among all airports in the United States.
  • Services over 160 cities on four continents.
  • Features dedicated freighter services to 112 global destinations.

Connected Airports in France: Paris CDG.

France to Miami Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Situated 11 km south of downtown Atlanta.
  • International gateway to the southern states of the US.
  • Features extensive refrigeration and freezer units.
  • Has five parallel runways.

Connected Airports in France: Paris CDG.

France to Atlanta Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in the US

Apart from the five airports mentioned above, you can also fly your cargo from France to the following airports in the United States:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Charlotte
  • Denver
  • El Paso
  • Houston
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Sacramento

Why Ship From France to the US With Shipa Freight?

To ship your goods safely and in time from France to the US, you will need a reliable partner that removes all complexities for you. Shipa Freight is a digital-first, online-only enterprise at the forefront of freight forwarding. We can satisfy all of your global shipping needs – no matter the mode of transport you choose.

You can now manage your entire shipment process conveniently in one place with our sophisticated online portal. This dramatically simplifies your supply chain because there is no need to coordinate multiple agencies anymore.

This is how you benefit when you are shipping with us:

  • Receive and compare easy-to-understand quotes online.
  • Place your booking directly online without losing time.
  • Know exactly which shipping documentation to prepare.
  • Rid yourself of customs complexities – we will take care of them for you.
  • Manage imports and exports on one single platform.
  • Get help from one of our friendly customer service representatives, 24/7.
  • Guarantee full compliance with shipping rules and regulations.

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