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Ocean & Air Shipping From Germany to India

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Updated on 16 Feb 202216 min read

Germany is one of India's top-ten trading partners globally, and in Europe, only Switzerland exports more products to India. Car parts comprise the majority of commodities for export from Germany to India. At the same time, though, medical instruments also feature highly among the trade lane traffic.

Whether your business is in the auto-parts or medical industries, or any other, this page will help you ship freight from Germany to India successfully. Here, you’ll find useful information regarding shipping options, costs, transit times, customs clearance procedures, and ports.

What Are Your Options for Shipping From Germany to India?

Shipping professional leaning on a stack of cartons, adjacent to flags of Germany and India

Your two options are ocean and air shipping from Germany to India. Either alternative comes with specific benefits and drawbacks.

Ocean Freight From Germany to India

Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL shipping means letting your freight travel in a shared container alongside the goods of other shippers. If you don’t intend to fill the entire space of a container with your goods, this is a viable option. As you only pay for the space that your cargo occupies, LCL is often the least expensive way to import small shipments from Germany to India.

Full Container Load (FCL): If you can pay the flat fee for a full container, then one unit will be yours for the full journey from Germany to India. It’s a great way to transport larger quantities of goods at a fixed price. This might come out cheaper than LCL shipping.

Air Freight from Germany to India

Air freight is by far the fastest but also, in most cases, the most expensive option for importing from Germany to India. It’s suitable for businesses that have small consignments to ship, which are needed urgently.

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

Ocean freight is the least expensive method to import from Germany to India, with LCL typically costing the least for shipments of up to six standard pallets of goods. FCL shipping might cost more in absolute terms but will amount to a lower cost per kilo or cubic meter for large shipments.

Air freight is the most costly approach to global freight shipping, but for consignments of 100 kilograms or less in weight, may still be reasonably economical.

However, if your shipments are very small, say, 35 kilograms in weight or less, a freight forwarder is unlikely to offer you a quote. Instead, you should consider the use of a global courier service. At Shipa Freight, for example, we can only provide quotes for air or ocean freight shipments above this weight.

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

Ocean freight from Germany to India does not take an exceptionally long time to ship—at least not when compared to some global trade lanes. In general, you should be able to achieve transit times of around four weeks by using the fastest and most direct carrier routes. That said, the lengthier trade lanes between the two countries can take up to seven weeks for a vessel to negotiate, particularly if it's plying a multi-stop route.

Air freight is naturally a lot faster, and it’s possible for goods arriving in Delhi to clear customs within three days of dispatch from Germany. However, the average total transit time for air freight from Germany to India is eight days.

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

Most ocean-freight transit times between Germany and India fall within the 30 to 40-day bracket, as the following examples, taken from our schedules, illustrate:

  • Hamburg to Nhava Sheva – 33 days FCL, 34 days LCL
  • Hamburg to Chennai - 32 days FCL, 35 days LCL
  • Hamburg to Mundra - 34 days FCL, 37 days LCL
  • Hamburg to Cochin - 36 days LCL
  • Hamburg to Tuticorin - 36 days FCL

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

Some typical transit times for air freight shipping from Germany to India are as follows, including the time required for loading, unloading, other logistics processes at the airports, and customs clearance:

  • Munich and Dusseldorf to Mumbai – 8 days
  • Frankfurt to Chennai or Bangalore – 4 days
  • Stuttgart or Hamburg to Delhi – 2 days
  • Frankfurt to Ahmedabad - 8 days
  • Frankfurt to Bangalore - 4 days
  • Frankfurt to Mumbai - 5 days
  • Hamburg to Cochin - 5 days
  • Hamburg to Hyderabad - 3 days
  • Hamburg to Mumbai - 7 days
  • Munich to Chennai - 5 days
  • Stuttgart to Kolkata - 5 days
  • Stuttgart to Hyderabad - 4 days
  • Stuttgart to Mumbai - 6 days

Customs Clearance in Germany and India

Inspector checking containers as Shipa Freight helps with customs clearance

As a member state of the European Union, Germany follows EU export customs rules, which are not as complicated as in some other parts of the world. Indeed, they are designed to make the export process as efficient as possible. Nevertheless, the procedures can be intimidating if you or your staff are not familiar with it. In India, the import regulations can be quite taxing to understand and comply with—but a freight forwarder can help you every step of the way.

Below, you’ll find a quick overview of the key documents necessary for export clearance in Germany—and the import customs clearance process in India. You and your trading partner will need to compile and provide the following documents that will need to accompany your freight throughout its journey from Europe to Southern Asia.

  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)

Other documents may be required, and there are a lot of other compliance requirements to meet when exporting and importing. Initially, though, those listed above are the ones with which you should be familiar.

If you’d like to learn more about the documents listed above, we have a shipping documents page that you can visit to get more details and see some examples.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Ocean shipping is a widely-used option to ship freight from Germany to India. Most sea freight will travel inside a shipping container loaded onto a container ship. However, if your cargo is not suitable for containerized shipping, your carrier or freight forwarder can offer other options, perhaps using a break-bulk service.

When it comes to containerized ocean shipping, there are two choices: LCL and FCL. Which one will fulfill your logistics needs depends on the weight, volume, and nature of your goods. You can book either option as a port-to-port or door-to-door service.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

Are your shipments typically less than 14 cubic meters in volume, or small enough to fit on fewer than six standard pallets? If so, LCL shipping will usually be your most suitable option, using a 20-foot container shared with other shippers.

LCL can also be a cost-effective approach for loads of up to 28 cubic meters if you don’t mind your goods sharing space with other shipments. In this case, we’ll consolidate your exports and transport them in a 40-foot shipping container from Germany to India.

The consolidation and de-consolidation of LCL freight do make this method a little slower than shipping a full container. Still, we can assist you in choosing a fast route, with few stops, to get your container from Germany to India as quickly as possible.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

For FCL shipping to be cost-effective, you need to have enough freight to at least half-fill a shipping container. It becomes even more economical if you can use the entire container space. Cost is not always the primary driver for shippers choosing this method of containerization, however. Perhaps you don’t wish your freight to be transported in the same space as that used by other shippers. FCL shipping provides you with exclusive use of a container and is also a little faster than LCL.

Your freight forwarder can send one or more containers to the location where you or your supplier wish to load them. Once loaded, the container(s) will be sealed. The carrier will then load them onto a vessel in Bremerhaven or Hamburg, the German ports used for dispatching cargo to India.

At the other end of the ocean shipping leg, your freight forwarder can either drop the container at your chosen Indian port for collection or transport it by road or rail to its final destination. Of course, the customs clearance process is also taken care of in the ports of loading and discharge.

Air Freight

Ocean freight is not the only way to move your cargo from Germany to India. If your supply chain runs on tight deadlines and requires a faster way to ship, air freight is the answer.

Of course, it costs more to ship your goods as air freight, as compared to ocean shipping. However, as a fast transport solution, it can offer excellent value for money, depending on your commercial shipping needs. After all, you don’t just benefit from the speed at which cargo can be flown from Germany to India. You also gain other advantages, such as greater flexibility, and heightened security for your goods in transit.

For smaller shipments, and especially high-value goods, air shipping can offer great value. If you only have a few pallets to send from Germany to India, it's always worth considering. Depending on the location of the goods' supplier and final destination, some of the extra expenditure can be offset by reduced domestic transportation costs.

For example, this might apply if the supplier is in Central or Southern Germany, and the recipient's location is in the heart of India's hinterland. If there is an international airport close to the supplier and another close to the recipient, overland transportation distance can be significantly reduced.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in Germany


Port Facts:

  • Known as Germany’s Gateway to the World.
  • Third-busiest container port in Europe, and the busiest in Germany.
  • Ranked number 19 on a global scale of seaports.
  • Facilities include over 80 cranes, 22 berths for container ships, and no less than four container terminals.

Owned By: Hamburg Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >8.5 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Fourth-busiest port in Europe and number 27 in the world.
  • Offers ample space on its five-kilometer quayside.
  • Fourteen mega-container vessels can berth at the same time.
  • Has four container terminals, one of which can process more than seven million TEUs annually.

Owned By: Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in India

Nhava Sheva

Port Facts:

  • Constructed to ease pressure on the Port of Mumbai.
  • Also known as Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Has grown to become the third-busiest port in India.
  • Processes more than five million TEUs annually.
  • Primary import gateway for West and Central India.
  • Offers five container terminals, state-of-the-art technology, and many connections to inland freight yards.

Owned By: Government of India.

Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Ideal for buyers located in North, Northwest, or Central India.
  • Lies around 32 kilometers from Surat.
  • Located close to the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor, where the high-tech industry abounds.

Owned By: Hazira Port Private Ltd.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Lies more than 200 kilometers from the sea.
  • Leading ocean freight hub for East India.
  • Oldest port still operating in the country.
  • Transit time can be a little longer than typical for shipping into Indian ports.
  • Vessels must navigate many kilometers of the Hooghly River before arriving at the port.

Owned By: Kolkata Port Trust.

Annual Container Volume: >600,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Largest Indian port under private ownership.
  • 34th-busiest container port in the world.
  • Houses four container terminals.
  • Is served by more than 30 trade lanes connecting India with overseas trading partners.

Owned By: Adani Group.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • In operation since 1928.
  • Busy port for imports into Southern India.
  • Home to the largest container transshipment terminal in the country.
  • Offers a comprehensive network of roads, waterways, and railways connecting it to the Indian hinterlands.

Owned By: Government of India.

Annual Container Volume: >450,000 TEUs.


Other Ports in India

In addition to the container ports covered so far on this page, Shipa Freight also offers freight forwarding services to the following ports of unloading in India:

  • Haldia
  • Kandla
  • Visakhapatnam
  • Chennai
  • Kattupulli
  • Tuticorin
  • Krishnapatnam
  • Mormugao
  • Kandla
  • Pipavav

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in Germany


Airport Facts:

  • Offers more direct air shipping routes than any other airport in the world.
  • Europe’s busiest airport for cargo.
  • Has a near-central location in Germany and plentiful road connections.
  • Infrastructure includes four runways and extensive cargo facilities.

India Airports Served: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad.

Frankfurt to India Cargo-Only Operators: Cathay Pacific Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo.


Berlin Tegel

Airport Facts:

  • Ideal for suppliers based in East Germany.
  • Doesn’t offer direct flights to India currently.
  • To be replaced by the newly built Berlin-Brandenburg Airport in 2020.

India Airports Served: None.

Berlin to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Offers the high-tech HACC cargo center.
  • Can accommodate wide-bodied airliners.
  • Ideal departure point for air freight from the northern regions of Germany.
  • No direct flights currently operate from Hamburg to India.

India Airports Served: None

Hamburg to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Serves the region of Bavaria in Southern Germany.
  • Second-busiest airport in Germany and eighth-busiest in Europe.
  • Processes 350,000 tonnes of air freight annually.
  • Offers extensive cargo facilities.

India Airports Served: Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai.

Munich to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Germany's third-largest airport.
  • Handles around 75,000 tonnes of freight per year.
  • Convenient export gateway for products produced and manufactured in the Rhine-Ruhr districts.

India Airports Served: None.

Dusseldorf to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in Germany

If none of the facilities mentioned above appear suitable for your air freight, Shipa Freight can get it to India via Stuttgart, Nuremberg, or Leipzig/Halle Airports.

Airports of Arrival in India


Airport Facts:

  • Number-one airport in India for freight.
  • Has sophisticated facilities, including two cargo terminals and two integrated logistics facilities.
  • Offers nearly 30,000 square meters of warehouse space.
  • Freight throughput is approximately one million tonnes annually.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt, Munich, Leipzig/Halle.

Germany to Delhi Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo, DHL Aviation, Kalitta Air.



Airport Facts:

  • Also known as Kempegowda International Airport.
  • Serves the state of Karnataka.
  • Ideal import point for goods en-route to anywhere in Central and Southern India.
  • Has two runways and three freight terminals.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt, Munich, Leipzig/Halle.

Germany to Bangalore Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo, DHL Aviation.



Airport Facts:

  • Known as Mumbai Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
  • India’s second-busiest air-freight center, after Delhi.
  • The cargo apron can accommodate five wide-bodied freighters.
  • Offers specialized facilities to handle perishable, high-value, and dangerous goods.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt, Munich, Leipzig/Halle.

Germany to Mumbai Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo, Aerologic, Cathay Pacific Cargo, UPS Airlines.



Airport Facts:

  • India's third-busiest cargo airport.
  • Has dedicated warehouses for high-value goods, perishable products, and dangerous materials.
  • Boasts an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) with 8,000 storage bins for ultra-efficient handling of shippers’ commodities.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt.

Germany to Chennai Cargo-Only Operators: Aerologic, Cathay Pacific Cargo, Lufthansa Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Officially called Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.
  • Enjoys a geographically advantageous location in Central India.
  • Has two runways and a 14,000 square meter cargo terminal.
  • Connected to Germany by a direct flight from Frankfurt, operated by Lufthansa Cargo.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt.

Germany to Hyderabad Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo.


Other Airports in India

There are several other airports in India to which we can ship your freight from Germany. You can select any of them as the destination for an airport-to-airport shipment or as the airport of unloading for door-to-door shipping. These airports are Ahmedabad, Coimbatore, Cochin, and Kolkata.

Why Ship From Germany to India With Shipa Freight?

You will be at the forefront of freight forwarding when you ship your freight with us, a digital-first, online-only enterprise. Let us make sure that your goods move from your supplier to your buyer safely and on time. Whether you want to ship your products by sea or air, we can meet all of your global logistics needs.

With our sophisticated online platform, managing your shipping process is now easier than ever. Simplify your supply chain and rid yourself of the hassle of coordinating multiple agencies.

You also get the following benefits when shipping with us:

  • Instantly receive and compare quotes online.
  • Book your shipment directly and easily online.
  • Simplified shipping paperwork.
  • You can leave us to manage the customs complexities.
  • Manage all of your imports and exports on one online platform.
  • Receive support from our friendly customer service 24/7.
  • Always be in compliance with international shipping rules and regulations.

Know Your Shipping Terminology

Building an understanding of the language of shipping can help you communicate more effectively with shipping experts. That’s why we’re defining some of the confusing jargon in common usage. You’ll find two industry-specific terms below, and there are more on our other country-to-country pages.

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