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Ocean & Air Shipping From Germany to Mexico

Information and quote from Germany to Mexico for LCL, FCL and Air shipping

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Updated on 16 Feb 202214 min read

Of all European countries, Germany enjoys the healthiest trading relationship with Mexico, and on a global basis, lags behind only the USA and China in Mexico’s lineup of trade partners. As a result of this strong commercial bond, there’s no shortage of logistics companies and carriers supporting businesses importing from Germany to Mexico.

This page is a useful resource for anyone looking for information about ocean and air shipping from Germany to Mexico. If you have questions about the different modes of transport, shipping costs, transit times, customs clearance procedures, and ports, you’ll find them answered here.

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

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

To import from Germany to Mexico, you can choose between air and ocean shipping. Each mode of transport has its benefits and drawbacks, which we will explain in the following sections.

Ocean Freight From Germany to Mexico

Less than Container Load (LCL): Transporting cargo in a shipping container from Germany to Mexico together with the freight of other businesses is called LCL shipping. It’s one of the most affordable ways to move smaller shipments as you don’t have to pay for the use and transportation of a full unit.

Full Container Load (FCL): In contrast, engaging a freight forwarder to rent and transport an entire container from Germany to Mexico for you is called FCL shipping. Most businesses use this mode of transport to move larger, heavier shipments.

Air Freight From Germany to Mexico

Air freight can get your products to Mexico the fastest. Remember, though, that it is also much more expensive than ocean shipping in most cases.

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

If you desire the speed and flexibility of air freight, your enterprise will need the kind of logistics budget that can support a high-cost shipping mode. For shipments of up to 100 kilograms in weight, the cost may not differ much from that of ocean freight—but the cost-differential increases as shipments get larger.

As a rough example, a shipment costing $200 to ship by sea can cost as much as $1,000 to send as air freight.

Because of this cost difference, air freight is best reserved for importing high-value commodities from Germany to Mexico, or for small shipments that need to be moved quickly. Note, though, that for loads of 35 kilograms or less in weight, it’s seldom cost-effective to ship with a freight forwarder. An international courier company can better handle shipments of such low volumes.

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

Mechanical chronometer to represent the transit time of shipments with Shipa Freight

There’s a world of difference in the transit times associated with air versus ocean freight. However, although air freight is fast, you should not expect cargo flown from Germany to Mexico to complete its journey in mere hours.

Air freight transit times must take into account the time it takes to:

  • Complete export customs clearance in Germany
  • Prepare the cargo for loading at the departure airport
  • Load the freight onto an aircraft
  • Unload the goods at the airport of arrival in Mexico
  • Clear customs in Mexico

With all these activities taken into account, typical transit time for air freight between Germany and Mexico is eight days.

Ocean shipping takes place at a much slower pace than air freight. You should allow three to four weeks for your cargo to steam from Bremerhaven or Hamburg to its port of discharge in Mexico.

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

The journey by ocean from Germany to Mexico is a transatlantic marathon. At the speed of a container ship, the following transit times are typical:

  • Hamburg to Altamira - 24 days FCL, 21 days LCL
  • Hamburg to Veracruz - 22 days FCL, 23 days LCL
  • Hamburg to Manzanillo – 25 days
  • Bremerhaven to Veracruz – 18 days FCL

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

At Shipa Freight, we provide our customers with a wide range of air freight options for shipping imports into Mexico from Germany. The following routes are just a few examples from our schedule. They all involve total transit times of around eight days:

  • Frankfurt to Mexico City
  • Hamburg to Mexico City
  • Dusseldorf to Mexico City
  • Stuttgart to Mexico City

Customs Clearance in Germany and Mexico

As in most countries, the customs authorities of Germany and Mexico require a range of documents to accompany goods transported as air or ocean freight. Some are dependent on the type of products or materials you are shipping. At the same time, several specific documents are necessary in almost every case.

For example, the following set of documents will be essential, both for export clearance from Germany, and to satisfy import documentation requirements in Mexico:

  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)

To help you familiarize yourself with the documents listed above, we have created a documents list page for you to visit, containing details and examples of each of them.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Whatever commodities you might have to import from Germany to Mexico, sea freight is the one sure way to get them there in all but the smallest quantities. Indeed, from a cost-efficiency perspective, FCL ocean shipping performs best when you have a large volume of freight to move.

Of course, it's not always possible to fill a shipping container, and you might not have the luxury of waiting until you accumulate enough export orders to do so. That’s when groupage, or LCL shipping, comes into its own.

The one thing that both FCL and LCL shipping have in common is that your carrier will transport your goods in a shipping container from Germany to Mexico. Therefore, one of the decisions you will need to make relates to the type and size of the container chosen.

While there are several specialized container types, most commodities shipped in a container from Germany to Mexico travel in a dry-goods or refrigerated unit. The most common container sizes are:

  • 20-foot – with a capacity of 33.2 cubic meters, ten standard pallets, or 11 Euro pallets
  • 40-foot – with a capacity of 67.7 cubic meters, 21 standard pallets, or 24 Euro pallets

In addition to choosing the right container for ocean shipping from Germany to Mexico, you will need to decide which type of shipping service you want.

For example, you might choose to ship using a port-to-port service. In that case, you and your trade partner will need to arrange transportation for your products from their source to the German port, and from the Mexican port to their final destination.

On the other hand, door-to-door shipping will put your freight into the hands of a single carrier or freight forwarder. The carrier or forwarder will take responsibility for all domestic transportation as well as the international shipping by sea. To some extent, your decision to use door-to-door or port-to-port shipping will depend upon the Incoterms agreed between supplier (seller) and buyer. If your business is just starting up, or new to the ins and outs of freight transportation, you can find out more about LCL and FCL and how to ship your goods below.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

If you don't have enough freight to justify sending a full container from Germany to Mexico, LCL shipping will help you keep your carrier costs down. As with most either-or decisions, though, there is a tradeoff to be made. LCL shipping requires your goods to form part of a mixed load of freight, which collectively fills a 20-foot or 40-foot container.

If you’re concerned about your freight sharing container space with other shippers’ cargo, LCL might not be for you. It will also undergo a fair amount of handling during the consolidation and deconsolidation processes, so it may not be ideal for fragile or delicate products or materials.

That said, though, many shippers happily export from Germany to Mexico using LCL freight services, and in reality, problems are rare. Of course, it helps if you choose a forwarder that values the opportunity to serve smaller businesses and goes out of its way to manage the handling and care of your cargo proactively.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

FCL shipping is the most straightforward way to transport ocean freight from Germany to Mexico, and the simplest to understand from a pricing perspective. Essentially, you pay a fixed price per container for the shipping route you elect to use. However, you need to have enough freight to at least occupy half the available container space. Otherwise, it's typically more cost-effective to choose LCL shipping.

What makes FCL more straightforward? It’s the fact that your goods do not share space with other shippers’ consignments.

Your container can be loaded by the supplier of your goods, sealed, and sent off to the port of departure. From there, it will travel to a port in Mexico, and then on to your final import destination. At no point will your goods undergo handling en-route, so the risk of contamination or damage is significantly reduced.

Air Freight

When you need to ship goods globally, and quickly, air shipping is often a superior solution to ocean freight but adds more supply chain costs. Sending your German exports to Mexico as air cargo might be your preferred option in any of the following scenarios:

  • When you have fewer than five pallets to ship.
  • When you need to fulfill an export or import order urgently.
  • When you need to meet an inflexible deadline.
  • When your goods are valuable or generate a significant profit margin.
  • When you wish to ensure maximum security for your shipment.
  • When the origin and destination of your products are closer to an airport than a seaport.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in Germany


Port Facts:

  • Among the 20 busiest ports in the world.
  • Houses the third-busiest container shipping facility in Europe.
  • Facilities include four container terminals, some 80 or more cranes, and 22 berths
  • Has a reputation for efficiency in container management and cargo handling.

Owned By: Hamburg Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >8.5 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • One of the most well-known and busiest ports in Europe.
  • A five-kilometer quayside provides berths for up to 14 of the largest container vessels.
  • Boasts four container terminals, one of which can process more than seven million TEUs.
  • All terminals combined comprise the largest closed container-management area in the world.

Owned By: Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in Mexico

Lazaro Cardenas

Port Facts:

  • Mexico’s largest seaport.
  • Located just 110 kilometers from Mexico’s border with the US.
  • Ideal for destinations in Northwest Mexico.

Owned By: Port Authority of Lazaro Cardenas.

Annual Container Volume: >2.2 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located in the state of Colima.
  • One of Mexico’s busiest seaports.
  • Has 14 terminals that can handle general and containerized freight.

Owned By: Hutchison Port Holdings.

Annual Container Volume: >1.2 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Lies just 400 kilometers from Mexico’s border with the United States.
  • Principal container port for the Gulf Coast region.

Owned By: Administración Portuaria Integral Altamira.

Annual Container Volume: >680,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Situated on Mexico’s east coast.
  • Sits just 300 kilometers from Mexico City.
  • Ideal for reaching destinations in Southern and Central Mexico.

Owned By: Administración Portuaria Integral de Veracruz.

Annual Container Volume: >900,000 TEUs.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in Germany


Airport Facts:

  • Busiest cargo airport in Europe.
  • Processed 2 million tonnes of freight in 2019.
  • Has more direct flights than any other airport in the world.
  • Offers direct flights to Mexico.

Mexico Airports Served: Mexico City.

Frankfurt to Mexico Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates SkyCargo, Lufthansa Cargo.


Berlin Tegel

Airport Facts:

  • Fourth-busiest German airport.
  • Excellent road connections to Northern and Eastern Germany.
  • No direct flights to Mexico.
  • Indirect routings available to Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara.

Mexico Airports Served: None.

Berlin to Mexico Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Boasts an ultra-modern freight-handling facility – the HACC.
  • HACC annual capacity is 150,000 tonnes of cargo.
  • No direct flights to Mexico.
  • Indirect routings available to Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara.

Mexico Airports Served: None.

Hamburg to Mexico Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Ideal export gateway for Southern Germany.
  • Offers direct flights to Mexico.
  • Using this airport can save many miles of overland transportation to German ocean ports.

Mexico Airports Served: Mexico City.

Munich to Mexico Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Third-largest airport in Germany.
  • Had a cargo throughput of 75,000 tonnes in 2018.
  • Ideal export gateway for Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan areas.
  • No direct flights to Mexico.
  • Indirect routings available to Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara.

Mexico Airports Served: None.

Dusseldorf to Mexico Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in Germany

As well as the airports above, Stuttgart, Leipzig/Halle, and Nuremberg are all possible airports of loading for your imports to Mexico. Note, though, that at the time of publishing this page, routes from these airports will all be indirect.

Airports of Arrival in Mexico


Airport Facts:

  • Mexico’s second-busiest airport for international cargo.
  • Has an air-freight terminal area of 27,000 square meters.
  • The cargo apron can accommodate up to six aircraft at a time.
  • No direct flights from Germany.

Connected Airports in Germany: None.

Germany to Guadalajara Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • One of Mexico’s fastest-growing airports.
  • Among the fifteen largest airports in Latin America.
  • Located in Apodaca, in the state of Nueva Leon.
  • Has two runways and a single cargo terminal, covering an area of six hectares.
  • Ideal airport for destinations in Northeastern Mexico.
  • No direct flights from German airports.

Connected Airports in Germany: None.

Germany to Monterrey Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Mexico City

Airport Facts:

  • Located five kilometers from downtown Mexico City.
  • Plays host to 21 cargo airlines.
  • Offers direct flights from Frankfurt and Munich in Germany.

Connected Airports in Germany: Frankfurt, Munich.

Germany to Mexico City Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo.


Why Ship From Germany to Mexico With Shipa Freight?

The information on this page should be of use to you if you are the supplier, buyer, importer, or exporter in an international sales and shipping trade. It is valid regardless of whether you choose to make your freight arrangements directly with carriers or use the services of a freight forwarder.

However, the international shipping landscape can be complicated to navigate. At Shipa Freight, we make it easier for your business to ship products and materials from Germany to Mexico. If you’d like to find out for yourself how simple we make it, you can take the first step right now by requesting a quote.

Shipa Freight is changing freight-forwarding paradigms and challenging the traditional methods that are often fraught with complexity. But how does that make things easier for your business?

Here’s a quick overview of some of the benefits you can access as a Shipa Freight customer:

  • Receive fast and understandable quotes in moments.
  • Simple, fast online booking.
  • Get quotes, book, pay, and track your freight, all via a single online portal.
  • 24/7 customer service, accessible by phone, email, and live chat.
  • An intelligent compliance engine to help you meet legal and regulatory obligations.
  • In-house customs clearance expertise.
  • Transparent and easy-to-understand shipping documentation.

Know Your Shipping Terminology

Shipping has its jargon and complicated terminology much like other industries, and knowing what it means can help you communicate more effectively with experts. That’s why we’ve added this section to each of our country-to-country shipping pages. Below, you’ll find a couple of examples of shipping jargon explained in plain English to help build your understanding of the language of shipping.

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