Air & Ocean Freight From India to US [Updated: Mar 2022]
FCL, LCL and Air freight forwarding: trade lane information and online quote
][India and the USA are two of the world’s manufacturing powerhouses. Shipping freight between the two nations is a long haul from dispatch to delivery, but with both having such large consumer markets, many enterprises regard importing from India to the USA as essential to their business.
Whether you are managing logistics for such a business, or working for a start-up that’s looking to export from India to the USA for the first time, this page should come in handy. It provides useful guidance on shipping freight by air and ocean with the assistance of a freight forwarder.
You’ll find profiles of key ports and airports in the two countries, as well as information about transit times, customs clearance, and plenty of handy tips for ocean and air shipping from India to the USA.
There are just two options for shipping commercial goods from India to the USA: air freight or ocean freight. Both modes of shipping have advantages and drawbacks which we’ll explore in the following sections of this page.
Ocean Freight From India to the USA
Less than Container Load (LCL): If your freight shipment weighs over 500kg but is less than 15 cubic meters in volume, LCL shipping can often be your best option. If you choose LCL, expect a slightly longer delivery time for your shipment, because your container won’t dispatch until it’s filled with other cargo in a process called consolidation. On arrival in the United States, the shipment will have to pass customs and be de-consolidated before release.
Full Container Load (FCL): If you have 6 to 12 pallets to ship in a container from India to the USA , a full container load (FCL) is probably ideal for you. FCL ocean shipping involves renting a container exclusively for your goods and paying for its shipment to the USA. Your container can be sealed in India and remain so until reaching the consignee in the USA.
Air Freight from India to the USA
Flying your freight aboard a cargo-only or passenger aircraft is the fastest way to import from India to the USA. It’s also usually the most expensive option, though.
To provide you with a freight quote for importing from India to the USA, your chosen freight forwarder will need to take into account the following factors:
- The nature of the cargo
- The size, weight, and volume of the shipment
- Which mode of transport is preferred (FCL, LCL or air freight)
- The preferred ports of origin and destination
- The type of delivery service requested (such as Port-to-Port or Door-to-Door)
There’s unlikely to be much of a difference in price between ocean or air freight if you are shipping goods with a total weight of less than 100 kilograms. For consignments weighing over 100 kilograms, ocean shipping is typically more economical than air freight.
For consignments of 35 kilograms or less, you should seek the services of an international courier as the majority of freight forwarders will not handle such small shipments.
If your shipment is bound for a port on the US West Coast, it’s likely to travel across the Pacific Ocean, while freight destined for East and South Coast ports in the United States will go via the Atlantic Ocean.
Transporting a shipping container from India to the USA is a long process, requiring between 28 and 67 days of transit. 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 USA?
Ocean shipping from India to the USA is more of a marathon than a sprint. There are vast swathes of ocean to cover on the journey. The list below comprises port-to-port transit times for routes from selected Indian shipping gateways to their counterparts in the United States. Any door-to-door shipments will take longer when you add-on the overland journey times.
- Kolkata to Long Beach – 67 days FCL
- Kolkata to Los Angeles – 53 days FCL
- Kolkata to Miami – 49 days FCL
- Kolkata to Seattle – 57 days LCL
- Cochin to Charleston – 29 days FCL, 29 days LCL
- Cochin to Chicago – 38 days FCL
- Cochin to Long Beach – 66 days FCL
- Cochin to Miami – 42 days LCL
- Kattupalli to Long Beach – 46 days FCL
- Krishnapatnam to Baltimore – 44 days LCL
- Krishnapatnam to Houston – 64 days FCL
- Krishnapatnam to Long Beach – 46 days FCL
- Chennai to Boston – 33 days LCL
- Chennai to Chicago – 38 days FCL, 38 days LCL
- Chennai to Dallas – 45 days FCL
- Chennai to Detroit – 37 days LCL
- Chennai to Houston – 42 days FCL
- Chennai to Long Beach – 49 days FCL
- Chennai to Los Angeles – 48 days FCL, 36 days LCL
- Chennai to Miami – 42 days FCL, 37 days LCL
- Chennai to New Orleans – 46 days FCL
- Chennai to New York – 35 days FCL, 29 days LCL
- Chennai to Oakland – 46 days FCL
- Chennai to Philadelphia – 33 days LCL
- Chennai to Savannah – 34 days FCL
- Marmugao to Long Beach – 46 days FCL
- Mundra to Baltimore – 39 days FCL
- Mundra to Chicago – 36 days FCL
- Mundra to Dallas – 32 days FCL
- Mundra to Houston – 43 days FCL
- Mundra to Long Beach – 51 days FCL
- Mundra to Miami – 36 days FCL
- Mundra to New Orleans – 46 days FCL
- Mundra to New York – 36 days FCL
- Mundra to Oakland – 44 days FCL
- Mundra to Savannah – 29 days FCL
- Mundra to Seattle – 50 days FCL
- Nhava Sheva to Atlanta – 28 to 31 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Baltimore – 36 days FCL
- Nhava Sheva to Boston – 36 days FCL, 33 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Charleston – 28 to 31 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Charlotte – 31 to 34 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Chicago – 27 to 38 days FCL, 30 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Cleveland – 42 days FCL
- Nhava Sheva to Houston – 37 days FCL, 37 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Long Beach – 56 days FCL
- Nhava Sheva to Los Angeles – 53 days FCL, 35 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Miami – 34 days FCL, 36 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to New York – 34 days FCL, 27 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Norfolk – 35 days FCL
- Nhava Sheva to Oakland – 49 days FCL
- Nhava Sheva to Philadelphia – 31 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to San Francisco – 48 days LCL
- Nhava Sheva to Savannah – 29 days FCL
- Tuticorin to Boston – 36 days LCL
- Tuticorin to Long Beach –50 days FCL
- Tuticorin to Los Angeles – 49 days FCL
- Tuticorin to Miami – 38 days FCL
- Tuticorin to Seattle – 49 days FCL
- Visakhapatnam to Charleston – 46 days FCL
- Visakhapatnam to Chicago – 42 days FCL
- Visakhapatnam to Houston – 45 days FCL
How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From India to the USA?
Flying direct from India to the United States is right on the limit of current aviation capabilities. Even the biggest planes can only carry a certain amount of fuel. As a result of the vast distance between the two countries, there are currently very few non-stop services. The transit times below relate to some of the direct services operating between the two countries, and include the time that freight spends in consolidation and customs processing:
- Delhi to Chicago – 1 day
- Mumbai to Chicago, Houston, or New York – 7 days
- Mumbai to Atlanta – 4 days
- Mumbai to Boston, Miami, or Seattle – 6 days
- Mumbai to Charlotte – 8 days
- Mumbai to Los Angeles – 5 days
- Delhi to New York or Atlanta – 5 days
- Delhi to Miami or San Francisco – 8 days
- Ahmedabad to Atlanta – 6 days
- Ahmedabad to Charlotte or Chicago – 8 days
- Ahmedabad to Los Angeles – 3 days
- Bangalore to Chicago – 6 days
- Bangalore to New York – 5 days
- Bangalore to San Diego – 8 days
- Kolkata to Dallas – 9 days
- Kolkata to Seattle – 8 days
- Coimbatore to Miami, Cincinnati, or Los Angeles – 7 days
- Cochin to Miami – 6 days
- Delhi to Boston, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, or Seattle – 6 days
- Hyderabad to Atlanta – 5 days
- Hyderabad to Boston, Charlotte, Houston, Chicago, or New York – 6 days
- Hyderabad to Los Angeles – 5 days
- Chennai to Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, or Dallas – 8 days
- Chennai to Houston or Los Angeles – 7 days
- Chennai to New York – 6 days
- Chennai to Philadelphia – 3 days
For every business exporting commercial goods from India to the USA, customs formalities are mandatory. It’s a complicated process that many companies prefer to let a freight forwarder handle. A forwarder’s experience minimizes the risk of avoidable delays and assures your consignment is compliant with international shipping rules and regulations.
When ocean and air shipping from India to the USA, your forwarder will require you to provide the details necessary to complete specific documents that must accompany your consignment. These include:
- 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 cargo or an Airway Bill for air freight (your carrier or freight forwarder will provide this document)
Please note that your goods may require additional documents for customs clearance, such as a license, permit, or certificate. Much depends on the nature of the freight you are shipping. For more information about customs clearance documents and to see examples of those listed above, please see our documents list.
It’s likely that a cargo vessel will transport your sea freight in a shipping container from India to the USA. Standard containers are either 20ft or 40ft-long and open at one end. Your forwarder may recommend a specialist container for your freight, such as one with refrigeration or ventilation capabilities.
Whichever container is deemed best for your cargo, there are two ways to import from India to the USA by ocean: LCL and FCL. Both forms of ocean shipping will meet your port-to-port, door-to-door, door-to-port or port-to-door delivery needs. Here are some of the things you should consider before deciding which is best for you:
Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping
LCL is usually a good option if:
- Your freight’s volume is 14 CBM or less (around six standard pallets)
- There’s no urgent rush for your goods to be in the USA
- Your goods are suitable to ship in a shared container
Air freight is out of the question
LCL might not be right for your business if:
- Your goods are fragile or perishable (such as food or flowers)
- You’d prefer that your goods are not moved or handled more than is necessary
- You have a scheduled delivery date that simply cannot be missed
- Your shipment is large, heavy, or awkwardly-shaped
Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping
FCL ocean shipping will often be a favorable option if:
- Your consignment must arrive in the United States by a specified date
- You have the facilities to load and seal your container in India
- The consignee can unload the container when it reaches the USA
- You’re shipping over 14 CBM
- Your freight is delicate or very heavy
Shipping your goods as air freight is certainly more expensive than by ocean, but well worth it if you:
- Need the speed: if you don’t want to keep your customers in the United States waiting for your goods from India, air freight will be the most suitable mode of transportation.
- Are a risk-averse shipper: all forms of transit carry an element of risk, but the less time your freight spends in transit, the less risk you face. Here again, air freight is the option that minimizes transit time.
- Have delicate cargo: the long distance between India and the United States means perishable goods will arrive in much better condition when shipped as air freight.
- Are shipping high value items: the security protocols employed by airlines and airport operators will give you peace of mind.
- Only have a small consignment to ship: air freight is often the most cost-effective mode of shipping if you have no more than two or three pallets to ship.
- Want more reliability: airlines are strict with their schedules, and typically provide an excellent service, so any delays are kept to a minimum and usually rectified within a day. While rates are lower for ocean freight, shipments can be subject to delays in ports at either end of the journey, as well as at sea, which could push arrival times back by days or even weeks.
Cargo Ports of Origin in India
- Modern port south of Surat
- A multi-cargo deepwater gateway to the USA
- Close to the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor
- The ideal port for any supplier or manufacturer exporting from Northern, Northwestern or Central India
*Owned By: *Hazira Port Private Ltd. *Annual Container Volume: *>500,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: INHZR.
- Founded in 1870
- The oldest of India’s operational ports
- Can handle 650,000 containers per annum
- Dock facilities include 40 berths and 86 wharfs
- The main categories of goods exported from Kolkata are leather and cotton items
*Owned By: *Kolkata Port Trust / Ministry of Shipping. *Annual Container Volume: * >796,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: INCCU.
- Also known as V.O. Chidambaranar Port
- One of India’s top-12 ports
- The nation’s fourth-largest container hub
- Facilities include 13 berths, 7 wharfs, and 3 piers
Owned By: V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust / Ministry of Shipping. Annual Container Volume: >560,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: INTUT.
- India’s first privately-owned port
- Specializes in containers and liquid cargo
- Situated 90 kilometers south of Amreli
- Serves major trade routes in the Western coastal region of India
- Close to the country’s busiest port at Nhava Sheva
Owned By: A.P. Moller Maersk Group. Annual Container Volume: >880,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: INPAV.
- Spread across two islands – Willingdon and Vallarpadam
- Boasts the largest trans-shipment facility in India
- Attracts cargo vessels from all over the world, due to its location close to the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean
Owned By: Cochin Port Trust. *Annual Container Volume: *>400,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: INCOK.
Other Ports in India
Other ports in India that serve FCL and LCL ocean shipping services to the USA include:
- Nhava Sheva
Cargo Ports of Arrival in the USA
- The busiest port in the USA in terms of foreign tonnage
- 15% of this port’s cargo emanates from the Asia/Pacific region
- A part-artificial, part-natural port
- Infrastructure includes a petrochemical complex
Owned By:City of Houston. Annual Container Volume:>1.6 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USHOU.
- Michigan’s largest seaport
- Hugs the west bank of the Detroit River between Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie
- Several marine terminals handle general, bulk, and liquid cargo
- Could be the ideal destination port if your supply chain moves goods into the Northern or Central regions of the United States
Owned By: Detroit/Wayne County Port Authority. UN/LOCODE: USDET.
- Known as Port NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana)
- A thriving gateway for global shipping
- Generates over $100 million annually
- Located on the Mississippi River, close to the Gulf of Mexico
- Six gantry cranes handle container vessels, with four more under construction
Owned By: The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans. Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USMSY.
- The United States’ newest port
- Florida’s third-largest sea freight gateway
- Based on the St. Johns River
- Responsible for handling over 21 million tonnes of cargo a year
- In September 2019, the port got the go-ahead for the construction of a $238.7 million international container facility
Owned By: Jacksonville Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >1.3 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USJAX.
- Several large seaport facilities combine to create the port of Chicago
- A world-class, strategically-driven facility
- Terminals at Iroquois Landing Lakefront and Lake Calumet handle various types of cargo
Owned By: Illinois International Port District. Annual Container Volume: >36 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USCHI.
Other Ports in the United States
Your consignment from India can be received at all these other container ports in the USA, for unloading from its vessel and import customs clearance:
- New York
- San Francisco
- Port Everglades
Airports of Origin in India
- Also known as Indira Gandhi International Airport
- The main air facility in the Indian capital
- The busiest airport in India for cargo
- Has separate greenfield and brownfield cargo terminals
United States Airports Served: Chicago-O’Hare, New York-JFK, San Francisco. Delhi to United States Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: DEL.
- Its full-name is Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport
- Serves the city of Mumbai and is second only to Delhi in terms of cargo traffic
- The air cargo facility here has air-side and city-side access, encouraging faster shipment transfers
United States Airports Served: New York-JFK. Mumbai to United States Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: BOM.
- Situated in Tirusulam, 21 kilometers from Chennai
- India’s third-largest cargo hub
- Infrastructure includes specialist facilities for perishable goods such as fruit, vegetables,and flowers
United States Airports Served: Chicago. Chennai to United States Cargo-Only Operators: Singapore Airlines Cargo. IATA Code: MAA.
- Situated near to the India-Pakistan border
- Official name is Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel International Airport
- Serves areas in Northwestern India including Gujarat
United States Airports Served: None. Ahmedabad to United States Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code:AMD.
- Officially called Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
- Located in the Dum Dum region of West Bengal
- Infrastructure includes the biggest air cargo center in North East India
United States Airports Served: None. Kolkata to United States Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: CCU.
Other Airports of Origin in India
In addition to the airports we have described in detail, your air freight can also leave India via cargo terminals at Bangalore, Hyderabad, Cochin, and Coimbatore
Airports of Arrival in the USA
- Located in the Northwest of Chicago
- Has two cargo areas – the South and Northeast
- Cargo arriving from India can be easily forwarded onto destinations across the United States, thanks to the fast road and rail links the airport enjoys
Connected Airports in India: Delhi, Chennai India to Chicago-O’Hare Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: ORD.
- The Big Apple’s biggest international airport is a major gateway into the United States
- Infrastructure includes six terminals and four runways
- Many cargo companies have offices at the airport
- JFK is ranked the third-largest international freight airport in the USA
Connected Airports in India: Mumbai, Delhi. India to New York-JFK Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: JFK.
- The largest airport in the Bay area of California
- Situated 21 kilometers south of Downtown San Francisco
- There are four runways and nine cargo facilities at this airport
Connected Airports in India: Delhi. India to San Francisco Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: SFO.
- Ranks as the world’s fifteenth-busiest freight airport
- Handles the biggest volume of international freight among all airports in the USA
- Serves more than 160 destinations across the world
Connected Airports in India: None. India to Miami Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: MIA.
- Situated 11 kilometers outside of downtown Atlanta
- Full name is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
- A major gateway to the southern states of the USA
- Infrastructure includes extensive refrigeration and freezer units
- Has five runways
Connected Airports in India: None. India to Atlanta Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: ATL.
Other Entry Points into the United States
Other airports through which cargo from India can enter the USA include:
- El Paso
- Los Angeles
- Dallas-Fort Worth
- San Diego
Shipa Freight is a digital-first, online-only freight forwarder. We can satisfy the needs of your supply chain, whether you want to ship by air or ocean. Managing the entire shipment process is so much easier when you use our sophisticated online portal.
The benefits of shipping with us include:
- Easy-to-understand, online quotes
- Book and pay online
- Always know which shipping documentation you need to prepare
- We’ll handle the complexities of customs clearance
- Manage all your imports and exports on one platform
- Get help from our customer service representatives, 24/7
To help build your understanding of the language of shipping, we’re ending our country-to-country pages with definitions of potentially confusing terms and jargon. It’s a great chance to familiarize yourself with the ‘lingo’ so you can communicate your needs more effectively.
- What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight From India to the USA?
- How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From India to the USA?
- How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From India to the USA?
- Customs Clearance in India and the USA
- Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?
- Ocean Cargo Port Guide
- Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide
- Why Ship From India to the USA With Shipa Freight?
- Know Your Shipping Terminology