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Ocean and Air Shipping From Spain to Mexico

FCL, LCL and Air freight forwarding: information and online quote

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Updated on 25 Feb 202212 min read

Since Mexico signed a free-trade agreement with the European Union, of which Spain is a member, in 1997, trade between the two countries has been flourishing. Mexico is Spain's biggest trading partner in Latin America and 15th-biggest overall. Two-way trade between both nations amounted to $10.8 billion (USD) in 2018.

This page is a useful resource for businesses looking to import from Spain to Mexico. If you have questions about different modes of transportation, costs, transit times, customs clearance procedures, and ports, you’ll find them answered here.

What Are Your Options for Shipping From Spain to Mexico?

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

Importing from Spain to Mexico is possible via air or sea. Both shipping options come with pros and cons, of course. You’ll learn more about those in the following sections.

Ocean Freight From Spain to Mexico

Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL means that your cargo will be transported in a shared shipping container from Spain to Mexico. Your consignment will travel alongside those of other shippers. As you don’t have to pay for the use and shipping of an entire container, this is one of the most affordable ways to move small amounts of freight.

Full Container Load (FCL): The process of hiring and transporting an entire container from Spain to Mexico at a flat rate is called full-container-load, or FCL shipping. Most businesses use this option for larger consignments.

Air Freight From Spain to Mexico

Flying your products is the fastest way to get them to Mexico. However, air freight is, in most cases, also the most expensive mode of transport.

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Cargo From Spain to Mexico?

To generate a quote, freight forwarders will usually need the following information:

  • The nature of the goods you wish to ship
  • The weight of your goods
  • Their volume and dimensions
  • Whether you want to ship by air or sea
  • Whether you want LCL or FCL
  • Your choice of port-to-port, port-to-door, door-to-door or door-to-port delivery

Shipa Freight only provides quotes for consignments weighing over 35kg. As a guide, you should consider using air-cargo services for goods weighing between 35kg and 100kg, as these shipments usually work out faster than ocean shipping and the cost-difference between the two modes is not that great.

Sending goods that weigh over 100kg as air freight is expensive. Usually, there’s more cost-efficiency to be found in sending such a consignment as ocean freight, assuming your business can accommodate the longer delivery times.

How Long Does It Take To Ship Freight From Spain to Mexico?

Flying air cargo from Spain to Mexico is significantly faster than ocean shipping. As a result, it’s usually the more expensive option. But the ability to get goods from Spain to Mexico in just eight days rather than the 21-37 required for ocean shipping is an attractive proposition for many businesses—especially those with tight delivery deadlines to meet.

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

It takes between three and six weeks to ship goods from Spain to Mexico via Atlantic Ocean trade lanes. Exact times depend on your choice of ports and whether you opt for FCL or LCL. Public holidays, adverse weather conditions, and consolidation and de-consolidation can also affect the shipping duration.

Here are some examples of shipping durations:

  • Barcelona to Veracruz—21 days FCL, 22 days LCL
  • Bilbao to Altamira—37 days FCL, 24 days LCL
  • Valencia to Veracruz—26 days FCL, 25 days LCL
  • Valencia to Altamira—31 days FCL, 26 days LCL
  • Barcelona to Altamira—30 days FCL
  • Barcelona to Manzanillo—24 days FCL

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

Eight days is the usual duration required for air shipments from Spain to Mexico. That’s the typical transit time, for example, for freight from Barcelona, Bilbao, or Madrid to Mexico City, and from Madrid to Monterrey.

Customs Clearance in Spain and Mexico

Containers in the customs clearance zone as Shipa Freight helps with customs clearance

Your freight is only allowed to leave Spain and enter Mexico once you have received the customs clearance in both countries. The customs formalities are an essential part of shipping your cargo from Spain to Mexico. To mitigate the risk for delays and issues, most businesses hire a seasoned freight forwarder for the task. Relying on experts gives you the peace of mind that your freight complies with Spanish and Mexican customs regulations and international shipping laws.

The first step is to provide the necessary documents. The following paperwork is the absolute minimum required for the customs clearance process:

  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)

More information about this essential paperwork can be found here, a page we’ve created to ensure all the details you need are in one place.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Ocean shipping trade lanes between Spain and Mexico have been well-used over the centuries. The majority of commercial goods ship in 20ft or 40ft shipping containers. Specialized cargo vessels carry your sea freight across the Atlantic Ocean from port to port. If you select a door-to-door service, your freight forwarder will even ship your goods from your selected port of arrival by road or rail to their final destination in Mexico.

But first, you’ll need to decide between LCL and FCL shipping as your chosen mode of maritime transportation.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

Less Than Container Load (LCL) means your goods will share a container with other products belonging to other companies. A process called consolidation will take place in your chosen port of origin in Spain. This will see your goods loaded into a container with other cargo. Once full (or deemed ready for shipping), the carrier will load the container onto a cargo vessel and ship it to Mexico.

A freight forwarder will organize all of this for you. You just need to provide some details about the nature of the goods and get them ready to be containerized—ideally wrapped and mounted on pallets. When your goods arrive in Mexico, they will be deconsolidated and discharged at your destination port.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Full Container Load (FCL) shipping means your goods get a container to themselves for export or import from Spain to Mexico. It’s up to you how much you load into your container—you don’t have to fill it. Your freight forwarder will arrange for its transportation to Mexico aboard a cargo vessel, whether your container is partially or completely filled.

Usually, businesses will try to use container space as fully as possible. If you have a big consignment that needs importing from Spain to Mexico, you can choose multiple 20ft containers or the 40ft option. The former holds 10 to 11 standard pallets, the latter up to 21.

FCL is generally quicker than LCL, as there’s no consolidation or deconsolidation, which also means less handling of your goods—something that appeals to shippers with fragile goods to send in a shipping container from Spain to Mexico.

Air Freight

Need to export from Spain to Mexico in a hurry? Air shipping is the fastest way. First, you’ll need to pick your airport of origin in Spain. Choose one that’s nearest your supplier or manufacturer for quicker transit to the airport. You’ll also need to choose your airport of arrival in Mexico and decide whether to use a door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door or door-to-port delivery service.

Speed is the chief reason why many businesses opt for air freight, but there are other benefits, such as the four we’ve listed below:

  • You can protect perishable cargo with quicker transit.
  • You can take advantage of the higher levels of security offered by airports and airlines.
  • You may pay lower insurance premiums (in most cases).
  • Air freight can be a cost-effective option for smaller shipments occupying just one or two pallets.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in Spain


Port Facts:

  • Ranked the ninth-busiest container port in Europe.
  • Spain’s third-largest freight hub.
  • Nearest international freight gateway to Tarragona, Girona, and other locations in Eastern Spain

Owned By: Puertos del Estado.

Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on Spain’s northern coast in the Bay of Biscay.
  • Is easily reached from Santander, Vitoria-Gasteiz and other areas in Northern Spain.
  • Also suitable for suppliers based in Madrid.

Owned By: Port of Bilbao Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Biggest port in the Mediterranean.
  • Among the top-five busiest container ports in Europe.
  • Serves Spain’s east coast.
  • Offers 12 kilometers of quayside and a kilometer of storage space.

Owned By: Port Authority of Valencia.

Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on Spain’s short western coastline.
  • A small port in comparison to the other Spanish container facilities.
  • Ideal if your goods originate in Northwestern Spain or even Portugal.

Owned By: Autoridad Portuaria de Vigo.

Annual Container Volume: >200,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Sits on Spain’s south coast close to the Strait of Gibraltar.
  • Third-busiest port in the Mediterranean for freight throughput.
  • Port of choice for shippers moving goods from Gibraltar, Los Barrios, San Roque, and other areas of Southern Spain.

Owned By: Autoridad Portuaria de la Bahía de Algeciras.

Annual Container Volume: >4.5 million TEUs.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in Mexico


Port Facts:

  • Located on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico on the nation’s East Coast.
  • The capital, Mexico City, is just 300 kilometers from here.
  • Ideal for discharging goods bound for Central and Southern Mexico.

Owned By: Administración Portuaria Integral de Veracruz.

Annual Container Volume: >900,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Lies on the northern shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Just 400 kilometers from the border with the United States.
  • Main container facility in this industrial area of Mexico.
  • Known for being a gateway for chemical products.

Owned By: Administración Portuaria Integral Altamira.

Annual Container Volume: >680,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located in the state of Colima on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.
  • Handles the vast majority of goods destined for Central Mexico.
  • Has 14 terminals that can handle general and containerized cargo.

Owned By: Hutchison Port Holdings.

Annual Container Volume: >1.2 million TEUs


Lazaro Cardenas

Port Facts:

  • Mexico’s biggest port.
  • Home to a deep-water seaport that handles containers, dry bulk, and liquid cargo.
  • An additional container terminal is planned to increase the port's capacity to 3.4 million TEUs.

Owned By: Port Authority of Lazaro Cardenas.

Annual Container Volume: >2.2 million TEU.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in Spain


Airport Facts:

  • Catalonia’s main airport.
  • Located only 14 kilometers southwest of Barcelona’s city center.
  • Has three terminals and three runways.
  • Biggest cargo-handling facility in the region.

Mexico Airports Served: Mexico City.

Barcelona to Mexico Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Located in the heart of the Iberian Peninsula, just 9 kilometers from the city center.
  • Second-largest airport in Europe and Spain’s main cargo hub.
  • Important logistics link between Europe and Latin America.

Mexico Airports Served: Mexico City.

Madrid to Mexico Cargo-Only Operators: IAG Cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Opened a new terminal in 2000.
  • Largest airport in Spain’s North, known as the Basque Country.
  • Handled about three million kilograms of goods in 2016.

Mexico Airports Served: None.

Bilbao to Mexico Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Airports of Arrival in Mexico

Mexico City

Airport Facts:

  • Officially called Benito Juarez International Airport.
  • Located only five kilometers from downtown Mexico City.
  • 21 cargo airlines operate services to and from the airport.

Connected Airports in Spain: Barcelona, Madrid.

Spain to Mexico City Cargo-Only Operators: IAG Cargo, Turkish Airlines Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • One of the fastest-growing airports in Mexico.
  • Among the 15 biggest airports in Latin America.
  • Located in Apodaca, Nueva Leon.
  • Has two runways and an air cargo terminal covering a six-hectare site.

Connected Airports in Spain: None.

Spain to Monterrey Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Serves Mexico’s second-largest city.
  • Second-busiest airport for international freight flights in the country.
  • Offers an air cargo terminal covering 27,000 square meters.
  • Has six loading bays that can accommodate aircraft of any size.

Connected Airports in Spain: None.

Spain to Guadalajara Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Why Ship From Spain to Mexico With Shipa Freight?

Ocean and air shipping from Spain to Mexico is easy with Shipa Freight, an online-only enterprise at the forefront of freight forwarding. We will move your air and ocean freight to Mexico on time and in the most cost-efficient way. Our cutting-edge online platform can help you speed up your supply chain, enabling you to manage all of your import and export processes in one place.

Here’s how you’ll benefit when shipping with us:

  • Fast online quotes.
  • Quick online booking and payments.
  • One reliable platform to manage your shipping process.
  • Customs clearance complexity taken off your hands.
  • Transparent, easy-to-understand shipping documents.
  • A customer service team ready to help you 24/7.
  • Full compliance with international shipping rules and regulations.

Know Your Shipping Terminology

Even if you’re new to shipping, you’ve likely already encountered some words or phrases that have left you confused. Understanding what they mean will help you communicate your needs to experts more easily. That’s why we’re featuring definitions of some potentially confusing terms at the end of each of our country-to-country pages. This page’s terms are defined below:

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