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Ocean and Air Shipping From Spain to the US

Information and quote from Spain to the US for LCL, FCL and Air shipping

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The value of commercial shipping from Spain to the US reached $17 billion in 2018 making Spain the US’ 24th most valuable trade partner. Olive oil—a perishable—is among the top five goods most frequently exported to the US from Spain. So too artwork in the form of paintings and drawings which can be classed as fragile freight.

If you are seeking to import or export delicate, perishable or any other type of cargo across the Atlantic, a freight forwarder can help you. They should be able to arrange the transit of your goods by air or sea in one of four ways:

  • Door to door - from your chosen location anywhere in Spain to your customer’s address in the US
  • Door to port- from your chosen location anywhere in Spain to your chosen seaport or airport in the US
  • Port to door - from your chosen seaport or airport in Spain to your customer’s address in the US
  • Port to port - from your chosen seaport or airport in Spain to your chosen seaport or airport in the US

Air shipping from Spain to the US is usually the quickest and most expensive method, taking about eight days. Ocean shipping to destinations on the US East Coast is usually quicker, as that’s the seaboard nearest Spain. But most ports in the United States can be reached by container ships from Spain in 16 to 37 days.

Shipping Ocean Freight From Spain to the US

Warehouse operative pushing a trolley, stacked with boxes, from the Flag of Spain towards the flag of the United States

Freight forwarders bring simplicity to ocean shipping from Spain to the US. Choose a port in Spain and a destination in the US. Decide if you want to ship your sea freight by FCL or LCL. Share details about your goods including their weight and dimensions and your freight forwarder will coordinate the process for shipping a container from Spain to the US.

Containers come in a variety of formats. Most are either 20ft or 40ft long. Standard containers open at one end and the 20ft version will hold up to 11 standard or Euro pallets. 40ft containers carry up to 21 standard pallets or up to 24 Euro pallets. Specialist containers are available with features such as:

  • Refrigeration
  • Ventilation
  • Open tops
  • Half-height

Your freight forwarder should help you select the type of container to hold your products for import or export from Spain to the US.

Sending a Less than Container Load (LCL) From Spain to the US

LCL shipping means your products share container space with other shippers’ commodities. It is ideal for transporting smaller consignments that aren’t big enough to fill a container and aren’t urgently required in the United States.

Consolidation and deconsolidation of your goods will be required, which means more handling of your freight and, potentially, a longer shipping time. That’s worth knowing if your shipment is urgent, or if you are sending goods with a limited shelf life such as flowers or olive oil, or goods that are fragile such as artwork.

Full Container Loads (FCL) From Spain to the US

In FCL shipping, your freight is isolated, as there is no sharing of container space. Your carrier will transport your shipment in a sealed shipping container from Spain to the US. Your products will not need consolidation or de-consolidation.

You can load as many or as few pallets as you like into your container. There is no need to fill it. FCL usually requires fewer touches of your goods than LCL.

While FCL also permits you to seal your container in Spain, meaning it should stay sealed until arrival in the US, customs teams may open it to inspect its contents. In practice, this is rarely likely to happen if you comply with import and export regulations and complete all documentation accurately and correctly.

Cargo Ports of Origin in Spain


Spain’s west coast is small, but there’s still room for the Port of Vigo, close to the Portuguese border. Better known as a fishing port, Vigo offers high-quality freight handling services. Is your supplier or manufacturer based in the border region, Northern Portugal or Western Spain? If so, you might choose Vigo to save time and money on overland transit costs for your export or import from Spain to the US.

Owned By: Autoridad Portuaria de Vigo.

Annual Container Volume: >200,000 TEUs.



Ranked the world’s 29th-busiest cargo port in 2018, Valencia is Spain’s biggest sea freight facility and the largest port in the Mediterranean. The cargo handling capacity is huge. Storage areas cover more than one kilometer and the quayside stretches for over 12 kilometers.

Owned By: Port Authority of Valencia.

Annual Container Volume: >5.1 million TEUs.



A world top-50 cargo port by size, Barcelona was Europe’s fastest-growing container port in 2017. Cargo exports rose by 2.6% that year, mostly thanks to extra business from China. But the US remains a popular destination for commercial goods. All exports are processed in two terminals. Shipping to New York on the US East Coast usually takes 18 days by FCL and LCL. Shipping to Los Angeles on the West Coast typically takes 28 days by FCL and 31 days by LCL.

Owned By: Puertos del Estado.

Annual Container Volume: >3.4 million TEUs.



This port in Northern Spain is ideal for shipping to the United States if your goods originate in Bilbao, Zaragoza, Burgos, Leon, or even as far south as Madrid. The facility, which is also a popular cruise ship hub, is located in the Bilbao Abra Bay, around 15km from the city center.

Owned By: Port of Bilbao Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.



Passenger and fishing vessels use this port on Spain’s southern coast. But its status as the third-busiest container port in the Mediterranean brings it to the attention of international shippers. Only Valencia processes a higher volume of containerized goods in Spain. Moves are underway to expand container facilities at the port, which already has the capacity for mega-ships to be loaded and unloaded.

Owned By: Autoridad Portuaria de la Bahía de Algeciras.

Annual Container Volume: >4.7 million TEUs.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in the US

Wherever in the US your consignment from Spain is destined, there will be a container port close enough to make onward transit by road or railroad reasonably fast. Here are some of the ports that are available to receive shipping from Spain:

Los Angeles

A rivalry is developing between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach which are located just across San Pedro Bay from each other. Both ports are big players in international shipping with Los Angeles currently the bigger of the two. It spans 70km of California coast and has 80 cranes to do the heavy lifting. Eight container terminals process more imports and exports than any other port in the United States.

Owned By: City of Los Angeles.

Annual Container Volume: >9.4 million TEUs.


Long Beach

Over 25% of containerized freight passes through the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles which are located just 6.5km apart in California. Your freight forwarder could recommend either as the destination for your shipment from Spain if your goods are destined for Western regions of the US.

Owned By: City of Long Beach.

Annual Container Volume: >8 million TEUs.



This is one of the biggest freight hubs in the US. If your goods from Spain are bound for locations in Florida, the Caribbean, even Latin America, this shipping gateway is an ideal port of arrival. It ranks as the ninth-largest container port in the US. Goods can be transported here from Barcelona in just 16 days by FCL shipping.

Owned By: Multiple owners.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.



In 2017, Savannah became the fourth US port to exceed the 4 million TEUs per year mark. It’s home to the biggest containerized goods terminal in North America. A further six cranes are earmarked for construction on the port’s quayside during 2020, further increasing the port’s freight handling capabilities. It’s all part of a $2 billion investment program that includes increasing the depth of the harbor to allow neo-Panamax vessels with heavier loads to use the port.

Owned By: Georgia Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4.3 million TEUs.



Businesses located in the Northwestern United States find the Port of Seattle an ideal arrival point for shipping from Spain. Unloading here could save your business time and money on overland transportation if you choose door-to-door shipping. The port is currently being upgraded to increase container capacity and allow two 18,000 TEU category vessels to simultaneously use the port’s facilities.

Owned By: Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Annual Container Volume: >3.5 million TEUs.


Other Ocean Freight Ports in the United States

In addition to the five container ports featured above, ocean freight forwarding services are available at these other ports in the US:

  • New York
  • Houston
  • Baltimore
  • San Francisco
  • Oakland
  • New Orleans
  • Boston
  • Atlanta
  • Charleston
  • Norfolk
  • Tacoma
  • Port Everglades
  • Mobile

Air Freight From Spain to the US

Flying your goods from Spain to the US is the fastest and often the most costly way to ship between the two countries. Aside from the faster transit time, exporting or importing from Spain to the US using air freight is well worth considering if:

  • You require more predictable transit times—airlines tend to run to tighter timetables than ocean shipping companies
  • Your goods are of a high value and would benefit from the greater security offered by airport operators and airlines
  • You’re shipping delicates or perishables that could be damaged by spending too long in transit
  • Your shipment is fairly small—perhaps three pallets at most
  • You want a lower insurance premium for your cargo

Airports of Origin in Spain


Madrid Airport’s freight facilities fill 40 hectares on a site in the industrial heartland of Central Spain. Direct connections to ring roads in the area make it easy for overland transport to access the airport. Over 125 air cargo companies call the airport home and direct flights to the US make shipping freight across the Atlantic from Madrid achievable in just eight days.

US Airports Served: New York JFK, Miami, Dallas/Fort Worth, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago.

Madrid to the US Cargo-Only Operators: Turkish Cargo, DPS Airlines, DHL Aviation, Kalitta Air, Swift Air.



This airport’s full name is Barcelona El Prat Josep Tarradellas Airport. The facility is an ideal departure point for US-bound freight originating in:

  • Llobregat
  • Saint Boi
  • Viladecans
  • Elsewhere in Catalonia

There are three terminals at the airport that can process cargo bound for the US. And there are three runways from which passenger services heading west can take-off.

US Airports Served: Miami, New York JFK, Chicago, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Atlanta, San Francisco.

Barcelona to the US Cargo-Only Operators: None.



If your supply chain requires the movement of goods from the Basque region, Northern Spain, or Southwest France, Bilbao International is a good choice of airport. Although there are no direct flights to North America, freight forwarders can coordinate shipping from Spain to the US via indirect services.

US Airports Served: None.

Bilbao to the US Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Airports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles

The tenth-busiest cargo airport in the world provides a gateway to the Western United States for goods from Spain. Over 1,000 flights a day land at LAX with commercial cargo in the hold. Two million tonnes of freight was processed here in 2018, the majority arriving aboard passenger aircraft.

Freight forwarders will be able to ship your goods from airports in Barcelona, Bilbao, and Madrid in eight days. Norwegian Airlines operates direct flights from Barcelona and Madrid to LAX. Iberia Airlines flies directly from Madrid. Freight originating from Bilbao Airport will arrive via an indirect route.

Connected Airports in Spain: Barcelona, Madrid.

Spain to Los Angeles Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Over 2.3 million tonnes of freight is handled at Miami International Airport every year. That’s enough to get the facility ranked as the world’s 15th-busiest according to statistics released in 2018. Direct flights from Madrid and Barcelona land here and freight forwarders can arrange for your cargo from Spain to be onboard. Cargo-only operators schedule regular flights from Madrid Airport into Miami International.

Connected Airports in Spain: Barcelona, Madrid.

Spain to Miami Cargo-Only Operators: LATAM Cargo Columbia, Turkish Airlines Cargo.



Cleveland Hopkins International Airport serves Northern and Central US. It was rated the most improved airport in North America by the Airports Council in 2019. This 695-hectare site has three runways. Commercial goods originating in Spain will be routed to Cleveland via indirect services as no direct flights from Spain serve the airport.

Connected Airports in Spain: None.

Spain to Cleveland Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport—to use its full name—has ranked as the world’s busiest airport for passengers since 1998. It’s a popular cargo hub too—the world’s 42nd-busiest—with five runways keeping the flights coming and going.

Congestion problems on road and rail links into and out of the airport have been known to delay shipments. But don’t let that put you off using an airport ideally located to receive cargo from Spain that’s required in Georgia or across the Southeastern United States.

Connected Airports in Spain: Madrid.

Spain to Atlanta Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Dallas/Fort Worth

Internal flights from Dallas connect with over 190 destinations in the US, all of which are within four hours flying time. So using Dallas/Fort Worth airport as your port of arrival for your goods from Spain gives you a quick way to move goods to their final destination anywhere in the US. The airport handles nearly 2,000 tonnes of freight daily and goods can be flown here directly from Madrid in eight days.

Connected Airports in Spain: Madrid.

Spain to Dallas Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Air Freight Destinations in the US

Other gateways into the United States for goods from Spain include:

  • New York JFK
  • Charlotte
  • Denver
  • El Paso
  • Houston
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Chicago
  • Cincinnati
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Sacramento

Guidance for Clearing Customs in Spain and the US

All shipments from Spain to the United States need to be accompanied by specific documents. These will be checked by customs teams working at seaports and airports in both nations. Knowing which paperwork to fill-in is crucial to simplifying customs clearance. So we’ve listed the key documents here:

  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 each of these documents is available here.

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

Sand timer with blue sand, next to and slightly in front of a desk calendar on a desktop

Shipping ocean freight from Spain to the US can take between 16 to 34 days, depending on the ports you choose. In contrast, air shipments take around eight days on average.

How Long Does It Take To Ship Cargo by Ocean From Spain to the US?

These sample ocean shipping times demonstrate that generally speaking, FCL is faster than LCL and shipping to ports on the US Eastern seaboard is quicker than to other locations in the US:

  • Valencia to Chicago—18 days FCL, 27 days LCL
  • Barcelona to Miami—16 days FCL, 31 days LCL
  • Valencia to Cleveland—31 days FCL, 25 days LCL
  • Barcelona to New York—18 days FCL, 18 days FCL
  • Bilbao to Chicago—31 days FCL, 30 days LCL
  • Bilbao to Los Angeles—37 days FCL, 34 days LCL
  • Barcelona to Los Angeles—28 days FCL, 31 days LCL
  • Bilbao to Houston—26 days FCL, 35 days LCL
  • Barcelona to Philadelphia—22 days FCL, 21 days LCL
  • Barcelona to Atlanta—27 days FCL, 22 days LCL
  • Valencia to Los Angeles—34 days FCL, 34 days LCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Air Freight From Spain to the US?

Below are examples of airport-to-airport shipping times between Spain and the US:

  • Barcelona to Miami—8 days
  • Barcelona to New York—8 days
  • Bilbao to Chicago—8 days
  • Bilbao to Los Angeles—8 days
  • Barcelona to Los Angeles—8 days
  • Bilbao to Houston—8 days
  • Barcelona to Philadelphia—8 days
  • Barcelona to Atlanta—8 days
  • Madrid to Los Angeles—8 days
  • Madrid to Dallas—8 days
  • Valencia to Los Angeles—8 days

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Cargo From Spain to the US?

Freight forwarders will take into account the type of freight you’re sending when calculating a quote for your shipment. They will also need to know:

  • Your choice of ocean or air shipping
  • Your preference for door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door or door-to-port deliveries
  • Your consignment’s weight, volume, and size

Shipa Freight supplies quotes for all kinds of shipments weighing 35kg or over. Usually, goods that weigh 35kg to 100kg are nearly as cost-effective to send by air freight as by ocean freight.

Cargo weighing over 100kg can be expensive to send as air freight, so unless you need to deliver urgently in the United States, ocean freight will usually work out more cost-effective.

Why Choose Shipa Freight to Ship Cargo From Spain to the US

Shipa Freight is a modern freight forwarder with an innovative online platform. We bring the services of the major international ocean and air carriers within easy reach of all kinds of businesses. If you wish us to organize the shipment of freight from Spain to the US, we can provide:

  • Quick online quotes
  • 24/7 customer service from shipping experts at our parent company Agility Logistics
  • GPS tracking of consignments
  • Delivery services from port to port, port to door, door to door and door to port
  • Easy online booking and payments
  • Assistance in navigating the complexities of customs clearance

“With Shipa Freight, I could do everything from quotation to booking with just a click”.

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