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Ocean & Air Freight Shipping From Germany to Canada

FCL, LCL and Air shipping comprehensive guide and instant online quote

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Updated on 04 Jul 202112 min read

Germany’s exports to Canada totaled $19 billion in 2018. It’s a figure that ranks Germany as Canada’s sixth-biggest trade partner.

If you’re already importing from Germany to Canada, the guidance you’ll find here could make your shipping easier—or perhaps you’re looking to make your first export between the two nations. If so, you’ll find this page a rich resource of information that will help you with both ocean and air shipping from Germany to Canada.

What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight From Germany to Canada?

Flags of France and China to show Shipa Freight capacity to ship from Germany to Canada Shipping your consignment as ocean freight or air freight are the two options open to you. Both have advantages and disadvantages that we'll highlight on this page.

Ocean Freight From Germany to Canada

Less than Container Load (LCL): With LCL shipping, instead of hiring a whole container, you rent space in a container that’s shared with other shippers. It’s a mode of commercial goods transportation that’s often the most economical way to export or import from Germany to Canada.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping Shipping goods by FCL requires you to rent an entire container which will be exclusively yours. You can load as many or as few goods into your container as you wish. In some instances, FCL is less expensive than LCL, and it’s often quicker.

Air Freight from Germany to Canada

When you have commodities for urgent export from Germany to Canada, air freight is your fastest option. However, it can often work out significantly more expensive than ocean shipping.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From Germany to Canada?

Calculator to represent the cost of Shipa Freight's quotes Your freight forwarder will need to consider several variables when calculating the cost of your shipment. These include:

  • The type of goods you want to ship from Germany to Canada
  • How you want those goods to reach their destination—FCL, LCL, or Air freight?
  • The size of your cargo and its weight
  • The distance between the origin of your shipment and its destination
  • Whether you require a port-to-door, door-to-port, port-to-port or door-to-door delivery service

For consignments weighing over 100kg, sea freight is typically more affordable than air freight. But there’s little difference in cost between ocean and air shipping when it comes to goods that weigh between 35kg and 100kg, For loads of 35kg or under, you should use international couriers, as many freight forwarders—Shipa Freight included—do not quote for goods of this weight.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From Germany to Canada?

The duration of trans-Atlantic ocean and air shipments from Germany to Canada varies considerably. Air freight is by far the fastest, with transit times often as short as five days. Shipping a container from Germany to Canada by sea is a slower process for which you should allow at least 15 days.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From Germany to Canada?

The examples below show typical transit times for FCL and LCL shipping between Germany and Canada:

  • Hamburg to Montreal – 15 days FCL, 25 days LCL
  • Hamburg to Toronto – 21 days LCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From Germany to Canada?

Air freight is significantly quicker than ocean shipping, as these examples show:

  • Dusseldorf to Toronto – 11 days
  • Frankfurt to Calgary – 5 days
  • Hamburg to Vancouver – 5 days

Customs Clearance in Germany and Canada

When importing from Germany to Canada, all shippers are required to follow customs rules and regulations. These can be complicated, so much so that many businesses prefer to use a freight forwarder to manage the process.

It’s often a wise move, as those experts can help you avoid unnecessary delays and ensure your shipping complies with local and international laws.

Even when you do partner with a freight forwarder, you will still be required to submit certain documents with your consignment. Those listed below are the ones most commonly requested by customs authorities. You may need to submit additional licenses, certificates, and/or permits.

  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)

Discover more about these documents and see some samples of each on our useful documents list page.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Your choice of port of origin in Germany is as limited as the German coastline. Most freight forwarders will recommend either Bremerhaven or Hamburg as the best port to use for your sea freight. Whichever you choose, there are plenty of carriers available to sail your goods in a shipping container from Germany to Canada aboard a cargo vessel.

For the majority of consignments, a standard 20ft or 40ft container will suffice. But if your goods are perishable, they may require a special refrigerated container for ocean shipping. Other specialist containers, such as extra-high or ventilated containers, are available if necessary.

There are two ways to ship your goods in containers across the Atlantic to Canada: FCL or LCL. The weight and volume of your consignment will be important factors in choosing the best method.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

Less-than-container-load shipping is likely to be best for you if:

  • Your consignment is relatively small, at most six standard pallets’ worth.
  • Your goods aren’t urgently required in Canada.
  • You are happy for your goods to travel alongside other shippers’ cargo in a container.
  • You don’t want the hassle of having to choose a container size.
  • Air freight isn’t an option.

Before choosing LCL shipping, it’s worth knowing the possible drawbacks. All cargo being shipped needs to be consolidated in port in Germany and deconsolidated in Canada. These additional logistics can result in longer transit times compared to air freight or FCL ocean shipping.

LCL might be best avoided if:

  • You’re shipping high-value, fragile or perishable cargo.
  • Your goods won’t stand up to frequent movement or handling.
  • Your delivery date isn’t flexible so you can’t accept shipping delays.
  • Your consignment is very large or extremely heavy.

Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL Shipping.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Full-container-load ocean shipping will usually be right for you if:

  • Your goods are required in Canada by a specified date.
  • The size of your shipping is at least half the size of a 20ft container—14CBM or more.
  • The commodities you’re shipping are delicate or heavy.
  • You want to seal your cargo in a container in Germany and for it to remain sealed until it reaches its recipient.

Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL Shipping.

Air Freight

Air shipping from Germany to Canada is usually your best option if:

  • Your freight is fragile or perishable and will benefit from the shortest possible transit time.
  • Your consignee in Canada requires delivery as soon as possible.
  • Your goods are suitable for shipping in the hold of an aircraft.
  • The supplier and recipient are based nearer to international airports than seaports.
  • You want to pay less insurance for your shipping than you would if you used an ocean carrier.
  • You are shipping valuable cargo and require the stringent security measures taken by airline and airport operators.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in Germany


Port Facts:

  • One of the world’s top-30 busiest container ports.
  • The newly-completed Terminal Four can handle seven million TEUs.
  • The quayside extends for over five kilometers.
  • Accommodates mega-container vessels.

Owned By: Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Germany’s largest port.
  • The 19th-biggest port in the world and third-busiest in Europe.
  • Four container terminals and 22 berths.
  • Unofficially entitled Germany’s Gateway to the World.
  • FCL shipments to Montreal can be completed in 15 days.

Owned By: Hamburg Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >8.5 million TEUs.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in Canada


Port Facts:

  • Canada’s largest port is as big as the next five largest ports in Canada combined.
  • A gateway to over 170 global trading economies.
  • Located on Roberts Bank and the Fraser River.
  • Borders 16 municipalities, including Richmond, Surrey, Burnaby, and Coquitlam.
  • Cargo traffic is expected to triple by 2030.

Owned By: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >3.3 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on the St. Lawrence River in Quebec, 17km from Montreal Trudeau Airport.
  • An inland port, 1,600km from the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Offers the shortest direct shipping route for ocean carriers from Europe to North America.
  • More than 2,000 cargo vessels visited the port’s trio of container terminals in 2019.
  • FCL shipments from Hamburg can be completed in 15 days.

Owned By: Montreal Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.6 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario.
  • Easy onward distribution of goods from Germany thanks to road, rail, and air links.
  • Close to consumer centers in Ontario, Northeastern Canada, and Northeastern USA.
  • LCL shippments from Hamburg can be completed in three weeks.

Owned By: Ports Toronto.

Annual Container Volume: >Unknown.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in Germany


Airport Facts:

  • Connects Germany’s economic and logistics powerhouse city with the world.
  • The busiest air freight airport in Europe, and the 13th-busiest in the world.
  • Features Europe’s largest perishables center.
  • Cargo terminal complex includes the world’s most modern animal station.
  • Secure storage facilities for valuable and dangerous goods.

Canada Airports Served: Calgary, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver.

Frankfurt to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Largest air freight hub in Southern Germany.
  • Handles over one-third of all German air cargo.
  • Over 300 long-haul cargo flights to global destinations every week.
  • Ideal for manufacturers and suppliers based in Bavaria.
  • Annual freight volume of over 400,000 tonnes.

Canada Airports Served: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver.

Munich to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • State-of-the-art cargo center opened in 2016.
  • 60-meter underpass directly links cargo facility with the airport’s apron.
  • Capacity to handle 150,000 tonnes of air freight annually.
  • Serves Germany’s second-biggest city.
  • Shipments to Vancouver can complete in five days via indirect services.

Canada Airports Served: None.

Hamburg to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Berlin Tegel

Airport Facts:

  • Located 8.5 kilometers northwest of Berlin city center.
  • Full name is Berlin Tegel Otto Lilienthal Airport.
  • 90,500 tonnes of air cargo were shipped from or to Berlin in 2019.

Canada Airports Served: Toronto.

Berlin to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Leipzig Halle

Airport Facts:

  • Second-busiest cargo airport in Germany.
  • Fifth-busiest freight facility in Europe.
  • Handled over 1.2 million tonnes of freight in 2019.
  • Two runways.

Canada Airports Served: None.

Leipzig to Canada Cargo-Only Operators: None.


In addition to the air-freight hubs described above, Shipa Freight can transport goods from Germany to Canada from airports in Stuttgart, Nuremberg, and Dusseldorf.

Airports of Arrival in Canada

Edmonton International

Airport Facts:

  • Situated 26km south of Edmonton city center.
  • Fifth-busiest airport in Canada.
  • Six cargo-handling terminals, three with freezers and coolers.
  • Accommodates the world’s largest aircraft.
  • Ideal for goods required in Northern British Columbia and Central or Northern Alberta.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt.

Germany to Edmonton Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Toronto Pearson

Airport Facts:

  • The biggest and busiest airport in Canada.
  • Located 14km northwest of downtown Toronto.
  • Over 50% of Canada’s air freight is handled here.
  • Shipments from Dusseldorf can be completed in 11 days.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin.

Germany to Toronto Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Also called James Armstrong Richardson International Airport.
  • Connected to three major North American railroad networks: CP, BNSF, and CN.
  • Located in the geographic center of North America.
  • Ideal port of arrival for goods destined for Manitoba Province.

Connected Airports in Germany: None.

Germany to Winnipeg Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Montreal Pierre Trudeau

Airport Facts:

  • Third-busiest airport in Canada.
  • The major air cargo hub in the province of Quebec.
  • Serves Canada’s second-biggest city.
  • Short distance from runways to terminals allows for the rapid movement of goods.
  • Strategic gateway between Europe and North America.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt, Munich.

Germany to Montreal Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • 12km from the city of Vancouver.
  • 302,000 tonnes of air freight was processed here in 2019.
  • Winner of Best North American Airport Award for a record ten consecutive years.
  • Shipping from Hamburg Airport can be completed in five days.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt, Munich.

Germany to Vancouver Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Why Ship From Germany to Canada With Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight’s advanced online portal is making it easy to ship cargo from Germany to Canada. We connect your business effortlessly with air freight and sea freight carriers. And our digital platform simplifies your supply chain, enabling you to manage the entire international shipping process in one place.

Other benefits of shipping with Shipa Freight include:

  • 24/7 customer support service via online chat, telephone, or email.
  • Get a quote, book and pay online.
  • Always know which shipping documents to prepare.
  • We take care of customs complexities—so you don’t have to.
  • We ensure your shipping complies with local and international rules and regulations.

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