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Ocean & Air Freight Shipping From Hong Kong to the US

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Updated on 04 Jul 202115 min read
  • Hong Kong has a booming economy with an abundance of supply chain opportunities for retail and commercial equipment. This is why a lot of businesses are relying on Hong Kong to provide them with their corporate needs. If you are looking to tap into the potential of Hong Kong for your business, being educated about the ocean and air freight shipping will help you make better business decisions on importing from Hong Kong to the US.

Shipa Freight has rounded up your comprehensive guide on ocean and air shipping from Hong Kong to the US to give you a glimpse of what to expect from your logistics experience.

What are Your Options for Shipping from Hong Kong to the US?

To get your supplies from Hong Kong to the United States, you will have to choose either ocean freight, where your goods are transported via sea, or air freight, with your goods transported by plane.

Ocean Freight from Hong Kong to the US

If you opt for ocean freight shipping services, your goods can be transported via LCL or FCL. Which one you choose would depend on the quantity of your shipment.

Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL shipments via ocean freight are ideal for small quantities of cargo. They will be consolidated with other shipments and included in one container for transport from Hong Kong to the United States.

Full Container Load (FCL): On the other hand, if you’re shipping in bulk with large quantities of goods, your ocean freight will be transported via FCL. This method would require that your goods be large enough in quantity to fill an entire container. Because one container belongs solely to you, you get your shipment faster than you would with LCL.

Air Freight from Hong Kong to the US

While ocean freight is a viable way of transporting your goods, you might be reluctant about it because transporting your packages via sea would necessarily require a longer turnaround time. If you are looking for a faster option and want your goods to arrive in a matter of days, you can opt for air freight instead. However, it’s worth noting that air freight costs more than ocean freight.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo from Hong Kong to the US?

A lot of factors come into play when determining the cost of shipment from Hong Kong to the U.S. The first consideration, of course, is whether you are opting for ocean freight or air freight. The latter would cost more than the former because of the faster turnaround time and the more expensive cost for plane fuel.

Some other factors that can affect the cost of your shipment include:

  • The size of your consignment
  • The quantity of your shipment
  • Seasons and weather conditions
  • The capacity of shipping containers
  • Fuel costs
  • Commercial and environmental factors

With all these factors affecting the cost of shipping cargo from Hong Kong to the US, it’s difficult to pinpoint an exact estimate.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo from Hong Kong to the US?

Shipping cargo from Hong Kong to the U.S. can take a while, especially if you opt to ship via LCL or FCL in ocean freight. To give you a rough estimate, shipping ocean freight from Hong Kong to the US can take as long as 43 days. On the other hand, if you choose air freight, you can expect your parcel to arrive within 4 to 8 days, depending on your airport of arrival in the US.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea from Hong Kong to the US?

As we mentioned earlier, shipping cargo by sea via ocean freight would take up more time than shipping by air. You can expect your shipment anywhere between 20 to 43 days, depending on several factors. LCL takes longer than FCL shipments because your freight forwarder would have to wait for other consignments to fill the shipping container. Take a look at this table to get a better idea of how long it typically takes for ocean freight to arrive at its destination:

  • Hong Kong to Long Beach - 17 days FCL
  • Hong Kong to Los Angeles - 18 - 21 days LCL
  • Hong Kong to San Francisco - 24 days LCL
  • Hong Kong to Boston - 43 days FCL
  • Hong Kong to New York - 35 days FCL, 37 days LCL
  • Hong Kong to Oakland - 22 days FCL
  • Hong Kong to Savannah - 34 days FCL
  • Hong Kong to Seattle - 25 days FCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air from Hong Kong to the US?

Shipping by air from Hong Kong to the US has a much faster arrival time. If you choose air freight, you can expect your goods anywhere from 4 to 8 days, depending on your port of arrival. Check out the typical arrival times in the table below, categorized by ports of origin and destination.

  • Hong Kong to Atlanta - 4 days
  • Hong Kong to Chicago O’Hare - 2 - 8 days
  • Hong Kong to Dallas-Fort Worth - 3 - 4 days
  • Hong Kong to Denver - 3 days
  • Hong Kong to Houston - 6 days
  • Hong Kong to Los Angeles - 2 - 6 days
  • Hong Kong to Miami International Airport - 3 - 8 days
  • Hong Kong to New York-JFK - 2 - 8 days
  • Hong Kong to San Francisco - 8 days

Customs Clearance in Hong Kong and the US

One hurdle when it comes to importing packages from another country is customs clearance. Because it’s an international shipment, any supplier, consignee, or intermediary will need to provide their local customs with the documents they need to conform to legal requirements.

Shipa Freight can assist you with some requirements for customs clearance. But your business should take care to provide the necessary documents with accurate information about your shipment.

Documents Needed for Customs Clearance

  1. Commercial Invoice
  2. Packing List
  3. Certification 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 from Hong Kong to the US (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)

Learn more about the documents you need to provide for customs clearance and see examples here.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Ocean freight and air freight have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Which one you choose would depend highly on your business’s needs and priorities.

If you opt for ocean shipping, you can expect a lengthy shipping duration, but you’re also in a position to enjoy a cheaper shipping fee. When it comes to ocean freight shipments, your goods can either be sent via an LCL or FCL, mostly depending on the quantity of your cargo.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

If you are shipping goods in small quantities (i.e. does not take up half the space of a 20-foot container), your goods will likely be shipped via LCL. However, there are also larger, 40-foot containers that can accommodate slightly bigger cargo. Aside from the size and quantity of the consignment you will ship, you should also consider whether or not LCL is for you. Consider these to help you make your decision:

  • LCL shipping means that your package will be shipped with other cargo belonging to other shippers
  • LCL shipping can take up to 43 days to complete. This duration can also change without notice.

If these are acceptable, then LCL shipping can be a viable option for you. But if you have reservations, you might find FCL to be more suitable.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

FCL shipping gives you more liberty when it comes to the shipment of your goods, mainly because you have control of an entire shipping container in the sense that one unit will be filled with packages belonging to you and arriving in one destination port. This necessarily means that the shipping process will be much quicker. However, it will also cost more because you need to pay not only for the transportation fee but also for the container rental.

You should choose FCL if:

  • You are shipping a heavyweight or large quantity of goods and supplies that can fill an entire shipping container.
  • You don’t want your freight to be mixed up with those belonging to other shippers.
  • Your items require security, isolation, and minimal handling.
  • You want to choose sea freight but you also want a faster arrival time.
  • You are okay with renting an entire shipping container for your own goods and shipments.

Air Freight from Hong Kong to the US

If your priority is to export from Hong Kong to the US and receive your goods quickly, specifically in less than eight days, you should opt for air freight as the transit time for air shipping is only four to eight days. The only catch is that air freight may be more expensive than ocean freight, with the cost of plane fuel more expensive than that of ships’. Despite the extra cost, air freight can be a viable option. Some benefits include:

  • Your cargo gets delivered in about a week.
  • The airport and airline security offer protection for your freight — perfect for fragile or perishable goods.
  • Airports are located in more accessible areas than ocean ports, which is more convenient if you are living near the airport where your cargo is to arrive.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in Hong Kong

Kwai Tsing Container Terminals

Port Facts:

  • Kwai Tsing comprises nine container terminals and 24 berths with 8,500 meters of frontage.
  • The total terminal area of Kwai Tsing spans 2.7 square kilometers
  • The area is filled with container yards and freight stations.
  • The terminals, collectively, have space for more than 18 million 20-foot container units.
  • Kwai Tsing handles 60% of the container traffic in Hong Kong.

Owned By: Modern Terminals Ltd., Hongkong International Terminals Ltd., COSCO Information & Technology (H.K.), Ltd., Dubai Port International Terminals Ltd., Asia Container Terminals Ltd. Annual Container Volume: 18 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: HK KCO

River Trade Terminal at Tuen Mun

Port Facts:

  • Located near Tuen Mun Pillar Point
  • It is a 65-hectare terminal
  • Carries over 20 million TEUs annually
  • Began its operations in November 1999
  • The terminal has 3,000 meters of quay

Owned By: River Trade Terminal Company Ltd. Annual Container Volume: > 20 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: HK MUN

Cargo Ports of Arrival in the US

Port of Miami

Port Facts:

  • Located in Florida
  • Very strategic location in the middle of North and South America
  • A leading hub for global commerce and tourism
  • Contributes $17 billion to the economy of South Florida annually
  • One of the busiest sea ports in the United States.

Owned By: Miami Dade County Annual Container Volume: > 770,000 TEUs UN/LOCODE: US MIA

Port of Oakland

Port Facts:

  • Container volume represents 3.7% of the North American market share
  • One of the three main West Coast gateways for US containerized cargo
  • Handles 99% of the containerized goods in North California
  • Has three container terminals
  • Serves more than 14.5 million consumers

Owned By: Oakland Board of Port Commissioners Annual Container Volume: > 1.5 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: US OAK

Port of Houston

Port Facts:

  • The busiest port in the United States.
  • The largest port on the Gulf Coast
  • Stretches for over 40 kilometers
  • In a strategic position just a few hours away from the Gulf of Mexico
  • Handles 68% of the US Gulf Coast container traffic

Owned By: The Port of Houston Authority Annual Container Volume: 1.6 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: US HOU

Port of Virginia

Port Facts:

  • One of the busiest ports on the US East Coast
  • Handles 11.6% of the East Coast’s total throughput
  • Has a well-connected railway
  • In alliance with the Georgia Port Authority
  • Its strategic position allows departing vessels to reach the sea in just 2.5 hours.
  • It had a record volume of 2.9 million TEUs in 2019.

Owned By: Virginia Port Authority of the Commonwealth of Virginia Annual Container Volume: 2.9 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: US VIR

Port of Los Angeles

Port Facts:

  • Located in the San Pedro Bay of California
  • Responsible for the majority of the Transpacific Trade
  • Also called America’s Port
  • Occupies 3035 hectares of land and has a 69.2-kilometer long waterfront
  • Annual container volume accounts for 13.5% of North America’s market share
  • Top port in the US and the 19th busiest port in the world.
  • Ships $1.2 billion worth of cargo every day.

Owned By: Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners Annual Container Volume: 4.4 million TEUs UN/LOCODE: US LAX

Other Ocean Freight Ports in the United States

  • Port of South Louisiana
  • Port of New York and New Jersey
  • Port of Beaumont
  • Port of Long Beach
  • Port of Hampton Roads
  • Port of New Orleans
  • Port of Corpus Christi
  • Port of Greater Baton Rouge
  • Plaquemines Port
  • Port of Lake Charles
  • Port of Mobile
  • Port of Texas City
  • Port of Huntington-Tristate
  • Port of Baltimore
  • Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior
  • Port of Port Arthur
  • Port of St. Louis and East St. Louis
  • Port of Pittsburgh
  • Pascagoula
  • Port of Tampa Bay
  • Port of Savannah
  • Valdez
  • Port of Philadelphia
  • Port of Richmond
  • Port of Portland
  • Port of Tacoma
  • And more.

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in Hong Kong

Chek Lap Kok Hong Kong International Airport

Airport Facts:

  • Hong Kong’s main airport
  • Built on the island of Chek Lap Kok
  • In commercial operation since 1998
  • An important regional trans-shipment center, passenger hub, and gateway
  • World’s busiest cargo gateway

USA Airports Served: Chicago, Ohio, Los Angeles, New York - JFK, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Alaska, Kentucky, Los Angeles, Miami, Tennessee, Hawaii, Philadelphia Chek Lap Kok to USA Cargo-Only Operators: Cargolux, Cathay Pacific Cargo, DHL Aviation, Etihad Cargo, FedEx Express, UPS Airlines IATA Code: HKG

Airports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles International Airport

Airport Facts:

  • The primary international airport serving Los Angeles and its surrounding metropolitan area
  • Owned and operated by Los Angeles World Airports
  • Covers 1416 hectares of land and has four parallel runways
  • World’s third busiest airport
  • 2 million square feet of cargo facilities

Hong Kong to Los Angeles Cargo-Only Operators: AirBridgeCargo Airlines, Cathay Pacific Cargo, DHL Aviation, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Southern Air, Western Global Airlines IATA Code: LAX

Miami International Airport

Airport Facts:

  • The primary airport serving the Miami area in Florida, United States
  • Over 1,000 daily flights
  • American Airlines’ third-largest hub
  • Over 51,000 square meters of warehouse space for cargo shipments.
  • A hub for the Southeastern United States and South Florida’s main airport for long-haul international flights

Hong Kong to Miami Cargo-Only Operators: Cathay Pacific Cargo, Southern Air IATA Code: MIA

John F. Kennedy International Airport

Airport Facts:

  • International airport located in Queens, New York City
  • Busiest international air passenger gateway in North America
  • 20th busiest airport in the world and the 6th busiest in the United States
  • Spans 2104 hectares of land
  • A top-three freight gateway in the US.

Hong Kong to New York Cargo-Only Operators: Cathay Pacific Cargo IATA Code: JFK

Dallas/ Fort Worth International Airport

**Airport Facts: **

  • The primary international airport serving Dallas-Fort Worth in Texas
  • Third busiest airport in the world.
  • Covers 6,963.42 hectares of land
  • The second-largest airport in the United States (by land area)
  • Consists of five terminals

Hong Kong to Dallas Cargo-Only Operators: DHL Aviation IATA Code: DFW

Other Air Freight Destinations in the United States

  • Daytona Beach International Airport
  • Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport
  • Bradley International Airport
  • Hilo International Airport
  • Idaho Falls Regional Airport
  • Chicago O’Hare International Airport
  • Indianapolis International Airport
  • Baltimore/ Washington International Airport
  • Rochester International Airport
  • And more.

Why Ship From Hong Kong to the US With Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight is your reliable shipping carrier that can help you get your goods from Hong Kong to any state in the US. We make shipping easy, with features that assist you in anything you might need. As a Top 20 shipping company, we are dedicated to providing you with the best services for your freight shipping needs.

Here’s why you should ship from Hong Kong to the US with us:

  • We utilize industry-leading technology and skilled logisticians
  • We have straightforward, self-service management tools for ease of access and navigation
  • We guide you throughout your shipping efforts every step of the way. We’re one phone call, email, or SMS away, whenever you need us.
  • We handle most of your customs requirements for you.
  • You are always provided with the information you need to start and complete an effective shipment.

Rely on us for your shipping needs! Contact us today and get started with your next shipment from Hong Kong to the US.

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