Ocean and Air Shipping from India to the UAE [Updated: Sep 2021]
FCL, LCL and Air shipping comprehensive guide and instant online quote
Bilateral trade between India and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) grew by over 20% in 2018-2019 to just under $60 million. India’s exports to the Emirates rose by 7% during that period.
If your business is already contributing to this growth, or if you’re seeking to export from India to the UAE for the first time, this page can help. It provides some useful guidance on how to navigate the complexities of international air and ocean freight shipping.
You have two options when shipping freight from India to the UAE: air or sea. Both have advantages and drawbacks which are detailed below.
Ocean Freight From India to the UAE
Less than Container Load (LCL): With LCL ocean shipping, instead of hiring a full container for your goods, you rent space in a shared container. More often than not, LCL is the most cost-efficient way to import from India to the UAE.
Full Container Load (FCL): FCL ocean shipping means you rent a container exclusively for your goods. Your container can be sealed at source in India and remain closed until reaching your consignee in the UAE (unless customs officials inspect your container’s contents). In some instances, FCL shipping is less expensive than LCL.
Air Freight from India to the UAE
Air freight offers shippers the quickest way to get their cargo from India to the UAE. But it’s often the most expensive option.
A freight forwarder will give you a quote for the cost of shipping freight from India to the UAE based on the following criteria:
- The type of goods you’re shipping
- The size, weight, and volume of those goods
- Your chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL or Air)
- The distance between origin and destination
- The type of delivery service you require (such as Port-to-Port or Door-to-Door)
The cost of ocean or air freight doesn’t usually differ much when you are shipping goods that weigh less than 100kg. In such cases, many businesses choose the quicker option—generally air freight. If your goods weigh over 100 kg, sea freight is usually more economical than shipping air cargo.
Most freight forwarders, including Shipa Freight, do not handle consignments of 35kg or less. Using the services of an international courier is the best option for such consignments.
The time taken to ship freight by air or ocean from India to the UAE differs considerably. Air shipping is by far the fastest method. Shipments from Delhi to Abu Dhabi can be completed in as little as one day. Most air-freight shipments from India to the UAE take three to eight days.
Transporting a shipping container from India to the UAE is a long process for which you should allow between 10 and 36 days. The transit times depend on your choice of ports, the route taken by the carrier, and whether you opt for LCL or FCL shipping.
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From India to the UAE?
Here are some examples of ocean-shipping durations for routes Shipa Freight operates between India and the UAE:
- Kolkata to Jebel Ali – 23 days FCL, 23 days LCL
- Cochin to Jebel Ali – 18 days FCL, 18 days LCL
- Cochin to Sharjah – 23 days LCL
- Haldia to Abu Dhabi – 36 days FCL
- Haldia to Jebel Ali – 25 days FCL
- Kattupalli to Abu Dhabi – 31 days FCL
- Kattupalli to Jebel Ali – 19 days FCL
- Kattupalli to Sharjah – 31 days FCL
- Krishnapatnam to Jebel Ali – 17 days FCL
- Chennai to Abu Dhabi – 26 days FCL
- Chennai to Jebel Ali – 17 days FCL, 13 days LCL
- Chennai to Sharjah – 24 days FCL
- Mundra to Jebel Ali – 15 days FCL
- Mundra to Abu Dhabi – 33 days FCL
- Mundra to Sharjah – 27 days FCL
- Nhava Sheva to Abu Dhabi – 23 days FCL, 13 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Sharjah – 18 days FCL
- Pipavav to Jebel Ali – 23 days FCL
- Tuticorin to Jebel Ali – 17 days FCL, 18 days LCL
- Tuticorin to Sharjah – 22 days FCL
- Visakhapatnam to Jebel Ali – 22 days FCL
- Nhava Sheva to Jebel Ali - 12 days FCL, 10 days LCL
- Mormugao to Jebel Ali - 21 days FCL
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From India to the UAE?
Below are some examples of air freight shipping times from India to the UAE
- Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, or Bangalore to Dubai – 6 days
- Ahmedabad or Mumbai to Sharjah – 5 days
- Bangalore to Abu Dhabi – 5 days
- Mumbai to Abu Dhabi – 4 days
- Coimbatore or Cochin to Dubai – 5 days
- Coimbatore to Sharjah – 7 days
- Cochin to Sharjah – 3 days
- Delhi to Abu Dhabi – 1 day
- Hyderabad to Dubai – 3 days
Customs formalities are mandatory for all businesses exporting or importing from India to the UAE. It’s a complicated process that many companies are happy to leave in the hands of a freight forwarder. A forwarder’s expertise minimizes the risk of delays and assures your consignment complies with international shipping rules and regulations.
Even with a forwarder to help you with ocean and air shipping from India to the UAE, you will still be required to provide specific documents to accompany your consignment. We have listed five such documents below:
- Commercial Invoice
- Packing List
- Certificate of Origin
- Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
- Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)
This list is not exhaustive. Your freight forwarder may advise you that additional paperwork is required such as a license, permit, or certificate. If you would like more information about customs clearance documents, please see our documents list.
Usually, a cargo vessel will transport your goods in a shipping container from India to the UAE. The container will most likely be 20ft or 40ft-long and open at one end. Specialist containers are available for sea freight with specific requirements during transit, such as refrigeration or ventilation.
There are two ways to ship goods across the ocean in a container: LCL and FCL. What’s best for your consignment depends on the type of goods you’re sending and their weight and volume. Both forms of ocean shipping will meet your port-to-port, door-to-door, door-to-port or port-to-door delivery needs.
Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping
LCL is probably the best option for you if:
- Your shipment is 14 CBM or less (around six standard pallets).
- Your goods aren’t urgently required in the UAE.
- You don’t want to have to choose a container size.
- Your goods are suitable for shipping in a shared container.
- Air freight is not something you can consider.
There are downsides to LCL shipping. The freight of all shippers needs to be consolidated in a container at the port of origin in India and then deconsolidated in the UAE. These extra logistics often mean LCL shipping takes longer than FCL and air freight.
LCL might not be right for your business if:
- Your cargo is fragile or has a short shelf-life (such as food or flowers).
- You don’t want your goods moved or handled more than is necessary.
- Your delivery date is set in stone.
- Your consignment is large or very heavy.
Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping
Usually, FCL is a good option if:
- Your freight is needed in the UAE by a specified date.
- You want to seal your container in India and for it to remain sealed until arrival in the UAE.
- You’re shipping over 14 CBM (which is about half the load capacity of a standard 20ft container).
- Your freight is delicate or extremely heavy.
Most businesses opt to send commercial goods via air shipping service from India to the UAE if:
- Their goods have a short shelf-life and will benefit from quick transit.
- They need their cargo shipped to the UAE as soon as possible.
- Their freight is high-value and so requires high levels of security.
- Their consignment is relatively small—a few pallets at most.
- Their supplier and consignee are both based closer to an international airport than a seaport.
Cargo Ports of Origin in India
- Modern port North of Chennai.
- Well-connected to national highways.
- Guaranteed congestion-free approach roads.
- Handles the world’s largest bulk carriers.
- Gated complex with six lanes to ensure fast turnaround of vehicles delivering goods for export.
Owned By: Kattupalli Port Private Ltd.
Annual Container Volume: >345,000 TEUs.
- Also known as Jawaharlal Nehru Port (JNPT).
- Located east of Mumbai.
- Set a new record for cargo throughput in India in 2019.
- Five terminals handle over half of India’s containerized goods.
- Ideal if your supply chain requires the movement of goods from Mumbai, Rasayani, Bori, Jasai, or Wahal.
Owned By: Government of India.
Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.
- Known as the gateway to South India.
- Two container terminals.
- Ocean freight can be shipped to Jebel Ali in 13 days and to Abu Dhabi in 26 days.
- Ideal port of origin if your supplier or manufacturer is in the Bay of Bengal area or Southeastern India.
Owned By: Chennai Port Trust.
Annual Container Volume: >1.5 million TEUs.
- Based on India’s eastern coast between the ports of Chennai and Kolkata.
- The deepest of India’s major ports.
- Linked to the South Central Railway and East Coast Railway for easy transit of goods to port.
- Connected to the Chennai-Howrah NH-16 road for easy north-south cargo movement.
- Suits shippers with suppliers or manufacturers in Vizianagaram, Srikakulam, Lambasingi, or Narsipatnam.
Owned By: Visakhapatnam Port Trust.
Annual Container Volume: >350,000 TEUs.
- Largest commercial port in India to feature a state-of-the-art infrastructure.
- Privately-owned port that’s one of the top 50-busiest in the world for container traffic.
- A natural gateway to North and Northwest India.
- Four container terminals with a combined capacity of 7.5 million TEUs.
- Good choice if your supply chain calls for the movement of goods through Mundra, Bhuj, Rajkot, or Pakistan.
Owned By: Adani Group.
Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.
- Close to the border with Bangladesh.
- One of the world’s most environmentally-friendly ports.
- Heavy-lifting machines and vehicles are powered by eco-friendly bio-diesel.
- Good alternative seaport to Kolkata for businesses in Ranchi, Bhadrak, and Puri.
Owned By: Kolkata Port Trust.
Annual Container Volume: >150,000 TEUs.
Other Ports of Origin in India
These other ports in India can be used to ship goods to the UAE:
Cargo Ports of Arrival in the UAE
- Located 35km southwest of Dubai.
- The world’s largest man-made harbor.
- The biggest and busiest port in the Middle East.
- Massive container yard of over one million square meters.
- Linked to Dubai’s expressway for swift onward distribution of goods from India.
Owned By: Dubai Ports World.
Annual Container Volume: >13.6 million TEUs.
- One of the world’s most modern seaports (opened in 2012).
- Located halfway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
- Serves over 25 shipping lines.
- The planned port expansion will increase cargo-handling capacity over the next decade.
Owned By: Abu Dhabi Ports.
Annual Container Volume: >14.5 million TEUs.
- Sharjah’s port is located on the coast of the Indian Ocean.
- It’s the only port in the UAE outside of the Strait of Hormuz.
- Just three hours from Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
- Shipments from Chennai can be completed in 24 days and from Nhava Sheva in just 18 days.
- Rapid transit routes from the port to onward destinations across the UAE.
Owned By: Sharjah Ports Authority.
Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.
Airports of Origin in India
- Located 21km from Chennai City Center.
- Specialist facilities for perishable cargo such as plants, flowers, fruit, and vegetables.
- The automated dock facility is set to be expanded.
- Shipment to Dubai can be completed in three to eight days.
UAE Airports Served: Dubai International, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai Maktoum.
Chennai to UAE Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates Sky Cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo, Etihad Cargo,.
IATA Code: MAA.
- Also known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport.
- Located in Western India.
- Processes about 900,000 tonnes of air cargo every year.
- A major airport for suppliers and manufacturers based in Pune, Nashik, and Mumbai.
- Shipment to Abu Dhabi can be completed in four days and to Dubai in three to eight days.
UAE Airports Served: Dubai International, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai Maktoum.
Mumbai to UAE Cargo-Only Operators: Atlas Air, Emirates Sky Cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo, FedEx Express, UPS Airlines.
IATA Code: BOM.
- Situated 9km north of Central Ahmedabad.
- Also called Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport.
- Serves Northwestern India, including cities in Gujarat.
- Shipments to Dubai can be completed in three to eight days.
UAE Airports Served: Dubai International, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Dubai Maktoum.
Ahmedabad to UAE Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates Sky Cargo, Global Africa Aviation.
- Also known as Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport.
- Situated in Dum Dum, West Bengal.
- The biggest air cargo center in Northeastern India.
- Direct flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
- Shipment to Dubai can be completed in three days.
UAE Airports Served: Dubai, Abu Dhabi.
Kolkata to UAE Cargo-Only Operators: None.
IATA Code: CCU.
- India’s biggest air freight handling hub.
- Southeast Asia’s biggest air cargo gateway.
- Air facility spans over 2,000 hectares.
- Located 16km southwest of Central Delhi
- Shipment to Abu Dhabi can be completed in one day, and to Dubai in three to eight days.
UAE Airports Served: Sharjah, Dubai International, Abu Dhabi.
Delhi to UAE Cargo-Only Operators: ASL Airlines Belgium, FedEx Express.
IATA Code: DEL.
Other Airports of Origin in India
Shipa Freight can also coordinate the shipping of freight from India to the UAE from the following airports:
Airports of Arrival in the UAE
- Located just over 4 kilometers from Dubai.
- The site covers 2,900 hectares.
- Advanced cargo-handling facilities include a specialist center for plants and flowers.
- Shipments from Cochin and Kolkata can be completed in three to eight days.
Connected Airports in India: Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Ahmedabad.
India to Dubai Cargo-Only Operators: UPS Airlines, FedEx Express,.
IATA Code: DXB.
Dubai Al Maktoum
- Dubai’s newest international airport opened in 2010.
- Located 40km from Dubai International Airport.
- Dubai’s two major air facilities are linked by an expressway.
- Up to four aircraft can land simultaneously.
Connected Airports in India: Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Mumbai.
India to Dubai Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates Sky Cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo.
IATA Code: DWC.
- The second-busiest cargo hub in the United Arab Emirates.
- Handles almost one million tonnes of air freight per year.
- Shipping from Delhi can be completed in as little as one day.
- Shipments from Mumbai can be completed in four days.
Connected Airports in India: Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Delhi.
India to Abu Dhabi Cargo-Only Operators: Etihad Cargo.
IATA Code: AUH.
- Located about 13km southeast of Sharjah.
- Five air cargo terminals.
- Modern freight facilities can handle temperature-sensitive goods and livestock.
- Shipment from Coimbatore can be completed in five to seven days, and from Mumbai and Ahmedabad in five days.
Connected Airports in India: Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Coimbatore, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai.
India to Sharjah Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo.
IATA Code: AUH.
Shipa Freight makes it easy to ship commercial goods quickly and safely from India to the UAE. We’re a digital-only freight forwarder with a modern, easy-to-use online platform. That, together with the global expertise of our parent company Agility Logistics, makes us a leader in the world of international shipping.
You can trust us to handle your air freight and sea freight in a way that simplifies your supply chain. You get full visibility of the entire shipping process via our website which you can view from your laptop, smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer.
The benefits of making Shipa Freight your freight forwarding partner include:
- Easy quotes that you can quickly compare.
- Save time by booking and paying online.
- Get the information you need about the documents your consignment requires.
- We’ll manage all those customs complexities you don’t want to.
- Get visibility of all your imports and exports on one platform.
- Friendly customer service advisors are available via phone, email, or online chat 24/7.
- Rest assured that your shipping complies with local and international rules and regulations.
- What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight From India to the UAE?
- How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From India to the UAE?
- How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From India to the UAE?
- Customs Clearance in India and the UAE
- Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?
- Ocean Cargo Port Guide
- Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide
- Why Ship From India to the UAE With Shipa Freight?
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