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Ocean and Air Freight Shipping From the UAE to the US

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

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In 2018, trade between the UAE and the US totaled $24.5 billion. Only $5 billion of that was in goods shipped from the UAE to the US. If your business is bucking the trend and shipping goods in the other direction, this page can help you. It’s packed with information about ocean and air shipping from the UAE to the US, and it’s designed to help both experienced and novice international shippers.

What Are the Options for Shipping Freight From the UAE to the US?

Flags of the UAE and the US for the tradelane with Shipa Freight

There are two ways to ship freight from the UAE to the US—by air or ocean. Knowing the pros and cons associated with each of these methods will help you decide which is best for you.

Ocean Freight From the UAE to the US

Less than Container Load (LCL): This form of shipping involves your goods being transported in a shared container aboard a cargo vessel. Some businesses find this the most cost-effective way of moving goods from the UAE to the US.

Full Container Load (FCL): If you want exclusive use of a container for your goods, FCL is the shipping mode for you. You’ll pay a flat fee to rent a container that you can fill—or part-fill—with your goods. FCL shipping can be faster and less expensive than LCL, especially for larger shipments.

Air Freight from the UAE to the US

When your goods must reach the US as quickly as possible, and the cost isn’t a worry, choose air shipping. There isn’t a faster way to get your freight from the UAE to the US. But it will cost more than ocean shipping—in some cases a lot more.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From the UAE to the US?

The cost of an export from the UAE to the US is affected by several factors, including the following:

  • How much your freight weighs
  • What type of goods you’re sending
  • Whether you’re shipping by air or by LCL or FCL ocean shipping
  • The size and volume of your cargo
  • The distance between the origin and destination for your goods
  • Whether you want a port-to-port delivery or another option, such as door-to-door

If you need guidance relating to the relative costs of air and ocean shipping, we have some. There’s not likely to be much difference in the price of air freight or ocean freight for goods weighing under 100 kg. For goods over that weight, sea freight will often work out more economically than shipping by air.

It’s worth noting that many freight forwarders, including Shipa Freight, don’t handle consignments that weigh less than 35 kg.

How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From the UAE to the US?

Hourglass and a calendar to represent the transit time of shipments with Shipa Freight

There’s a vast difference between the time taken to ship air freight from the UAE to the US compared with ocean freight. Some air freight shipments—from Dubai to New York, for example—can be completed in just two days. Most will take between four and eight days

The quickest you should expect your carrier to ship a container from the UAE to the US aboard a cargo vessel is 30 days.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From the UAE to the US?

We’ve listed some examples of typical shipping times for ocean freight from the UAE to the US. This will give you an idea of how long your shipment could take:

  • Abu Dhabi to Boston – 44 days LCL
  • Abu Dhabi to Charleston – 38 days FCL
  • Jebel Ali to Houston – 39 days FCL, 49 days LCL
  • Jebel Ali to Long Beach – 48 days FCL
  • Jebel Ali to Miami – 38 days FCL
  • Jebel Ali to New York – 43 days FCL
  • Jebel Ali to Norfolk – 41 days FCL
  • Jebel Ali to Seattle – 59 days LCL
  • Jebel Ali to Chicago - 44 days LCL
  • Jebel Ali to Los Angeles - 45 days FCL
  • Jebel Ali to Newark - 30 days FCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From the UAE to the US?

The speed of air freight services is here for you to see in this list of typical shipping durations from Dubai to various destinations in the US.

  • To Atlanta, Seattle, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, Detroit, or Cincinnati – 4 days
  • To Boston or Dallas – 6 days
  • To Chicago or New York – 3 days
  • To Houston – 8 days

Customs Clearance in the UAE and the US

Whatever you’re planning to import from the UAE to the US, compliance with customs rules is essential. It can also be confusing. That’s why many businesses hand over responsibility for this area of shipping to a freight forwarder like Shipa Freight.

Using experts to navigate customs complexities will help you avoid unnecessary delays and ensure you adhere to local and international shipping regulations.

But don’t expect your freight forwarder to do all the work. All shippers need to complete documents that must accompany their consignments through customs checks in the UAE and the US. Customs officials will usually need to see the following:

  1. A commercial invoice
  2. A packing list
  3. A certificate of origin
  4. A letter of credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
  5. A bill of lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)

Your freight forwarder will advise you whether extra documentation is required. For instance, your consignment may require a license, permit and/or certificate.

We’ve compiled some examples of the paperwork listed above on our documents list, so you can take a closer look if you wish.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Taking anywhere between 38 and 59 days, port to port transportation of a shipping container from the UAE to the US aboard a cargo vessel is slow going. But if your consignment is not suitable to fly aboard an aircraft, or your budget won’t cover the cost of air freight, ocean shipping is your best option.

You can ship most types of sea freight in a 20ft or 40ft container. Should your goods require certain conditions to be maintained during transit—such as a constant temperature—your freight forwarder will outline the specialist container options available to you.

All containers can be shipped from the UAE to the US in one of two ways: LCL or FCL. The weight of your goods could be the factor that helps you decide between the two.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

Businesses will often choose Less Than Container Load (LCL) shipping when:

  • Their consignment is no more than 14 CBM (enough to fill about six standard pallets).
  • The goods they’re sending can be safely shipped alongside others in a container.
  • Air freight is too expensive or just not an option.
  • Their goods aren’t required in the United States in a hurry.

One thing to be aware of with LCL shipping is the consolidation and deconsolidation processes involved. These necessary logistics steps often add extra time to a shipment, helping explain why LCL can take longer than FCL ocean shipping.

You might wish to avoid LCL shipping if:

  • The goods you are shipping won’t survive the long journey—food or flowers, for example.
  • You’re concerned about your cargo being moved or handled too much.
  • You cannot afford for your shipping to be delayed.
  • The goods you’re sending are heavy, large, or unsuited to sharing a container with other shippers’ products.

Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Full Container Load (FCL) shipping could be the best option for your consignment if it’s:

  • Required in the US by a specified date.
  • Unsuited to being shipped in a shared container.
  • Over 14 CBM (which is the equivalent of half the capacity of a 20ft container).
  • Heavy or fragile.

Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Air Freight

Consider air shipping if the cargo you are importing from the UAE to the US:

  • Comprises flowers, food, plants, or perishables that need to get to their destination quickly.
  • Is light and small enough to fill two to three pallets at most.
  • Is of high value, requiring the protection of stringent airline and airport security protocols.

Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in the UAE

Khor Fakkan (Sharjah)

Port Facts:

  • Located on the UAE’s Indian Ocean coast.
  • Just three hours from UAE’s other two ports in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
  • 450,000 square meters of storage space.
  • 20 container gantry cranes.
  • Ideal seaport if your supply chain involves moving goods from Masafi, Fujairah, Al Bidya, and other east coast locations.

Owned By: Sharjah Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: AEKLF.

Jebel Ali (Dubai)

Port Facts:

  • Situated 35km southwest of Dubai.
  • The biggest and busiest port in the Middle East.
  • Premier gateway for over 90 shipping services connecting more than 140 ports.
  • It provides market access to over two billion people.
  • Voted ‘Best Seaport in the Middle East’ for over 20 years in a row.
  • FCL shipments from Miami can be completed in 38 days.

Owned By: Dubai Ports World.

Annual Container Volume: >13.6 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: AEJEA.

Khalifa (Abu Dhabi)

Port Facts:

  • Located midway between Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
  • The first semi-automated port in the region.
  • A highly efficient transport network makes for easy access by air, sea, road, and rail.
  • Expansion plans will boost cargo-handling capacity over the next decade.

Owned By: Abu Dhabi Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >14.5 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: AEKHI.

Cargo Ports of Arrival in the US

Charleston

Port Facts:

  • Serves North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and Charleston.
  • 37 crane moves per hour make it the most productive port in the US.
  • Eighth-busiest cargo port in the US by cargo value.
  • Over $70 billion of exports and imports were traded across the docks in 2019.
  • FCL shipments from Abu Dhabi can complete in 38 days.

Owned By: South Carolina Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.4 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USCHS.

Norfolk

Port Facts:

  • A key part of the Port of Virginia.
  • Situated on the Elizabeth River.
  • Features 14 Super Post-Panamax cranes.
  • Direct rail access to Norfolk’s Southern Heartland Corridor which serves Midwest markets.
  • FCL shipments from Jebel Ali can be completed in 41 days.

Owned By: Virginia Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.9 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USORF.

Houston

Port Facts:

  • The largest port in the Gulf of Mexico handling containerized goods.
  • Container traffic increased by over 11% in 2019.
  • Shipments from Jebel Ali can be completed in 39 days (FCL) and 49 days (LCL).
  • An extensive channel-widening and deepening project is in its early stages.

Owned By: Port of Houston Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.9 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USHOU.

Boston

Port Facts:

  • The largest port in Massachusetts.
  • 200-hectare harbor.
  • Access to Interstates 90, 93, and 95 for easy onward transit of goods from the UAE.
  • The container facility is located in the Conley Terminal.
  • A new entrance road opened in 2019.
  • LCL shipping from Abu Dhabi completes in 44 days.

Owned By: Government of Massachusetts.

Annual Container Volume: >270,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USBOS.

Port Everglades

Port Facts

  • The 12th-busiest port in the US for containers.
  • Located close to Fort Lauderdale Airport.
  • Home to Florida’s first and largest foreign trade zone
  • Less than 2km from the Atlantic shipping lane.

Owned By: Broward County, Florida.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USPEF.

Other Ports in the US

Along with the ports detailed above, the following container gateways can also receive exports from the UAE:

  • New York
  • Oakland
  • Savannah
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle
  • New Orleans
  • Baltimore
  • Atlanta
  • Los Angeles
  • Tacoma
  • Long Beach
  • Miami
  • Mobile

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in the UAE

Dubai Al Maktoum

Airport Facts:

  • Situated 37 km southwest of Dubai.
  • The site covers 280 square kilometers.
  • Primarily a freight handling facility with some passenger services.
  • Linked to Dubai International Airport by an expressway.
  • Four aircraft can land simultaneously.

US Airports Served: Chicago-O’Hare, Houston International, New York JFK.

The UAE to the US Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates SkyCargo.

IATA CODE: DWC.

Dubai International

Airport Facts:

  • Situated only 4 kilometers from Dubai.
  • Processed 2.65 million tonnes of air freight in 2017.
  • A 2,900-hectare site.
  • Shipments to Chicago and New York can be completed in as little as two days.
  • Easy access to the airport for suppliers and manufacturers based in Dubai, Deira, Al Khawameej and the industrial areas to the northwest of the air facility.

US Airports Served: Los Angeles, Boston, Dallas, New York JFK, Seattle/Tacoma, Fort Lauderdale, Washington DC, Newark, San Francisco, Orlando, Chicago, Houston.

UAE to the US Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates SkyCargo.

IATA CODE: DXB.

Abu Dhabi

Airport Facts:

  • The UAE’s second-busiest air freight facility.
  • Handles close to one million tonnes of air cargo every year.
  • In 2019, Etihad announced plans for a major upgrade of its cargo hub.

US Airports Served: Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Washington DC, .

UAE to the US Cargo-Only Operators: Etihad Crystal Cargo.

IATA CODE: AUH.

Sharjah

Airport Facts:

  • Located 13km southeast of Sharjah.
  • Features five air cargo terminals.
  • Facilities for handling and storing temperature-sensitive goods and livestock.
  • Well-connected to shipper and supplier warehouses in neighboring emirates.

US Airports Served: Cincinnati.

UAE to the US Cargo-Only Operators: DHL Aviation.

IATA CODE: SHJ.

Airports of Arrival in the US

Cincinnati

Airport Facts:

  • Also known as Cincinnati/North Kentucky International Airport.
  • Rated the fastest-growing air cargo hub in North America in each of the last three years.
  • Major Amazon air hub currently under construction.
  • Six carriers operate out of CVG, including DHL Express, FedEx, and American Cargo.
  • Shipments from Dubai usually complete in four days.

Connected Airports in the UAE: Sharjah.

UAE to Cincinnati Cargo-Only Operators: DHL Aviation.

IATA Code: CVG.

Los Angeles

Airport Facts:

  • The main airport for the world’s 11th-largest economy—Southern California.
  • Located 30km southwest of downtown Los Angeles.
  • More than two million tonnes of air cargo was handled here in 2018.
  • Shipments from Dubai usually take up to four days to complete.

Connected Airports in the UAE: Dubai Al Maktoum, Dubai International, Abu Dhabi.

UAE to Los Angeles Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates SkyCargo, Etihad Crystal Cargo.

IATA Code: LAX.

Sacramento

Airport Facts:

  • Situated 16 km northwest of downtown Sacramento.
  • 24-kilometer site with two parallel runways.
  • The gateway to the capital of the state of California.
  • 30% of the airport’s energy is generated by solar power.
  • Cargo from the UAE will arrive via indirect services.

Connected Airports in the UAE: None.

The UAE to Sacramento Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: SMF.

Chicago O’Hare

Airport Facts:

  • The US’s third-biggest air cargo facility.
  • Nearly two million tonnes of freight was processed here in 2019.
  • Space on aprons for 40 jumbo freighters.
  • Shipping from Dubai can be completed in two to four days.

Connected Airports in the UAE: Dubai Al Maktoum, Dubai International, Abu Dhabi.

UAE to Chicago O’Hare Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates SkyCargo, Etihad Crystal Cargo.

IATA Code: ORD.

New York JFK

Airport Facts:

  • Handles the biggest volume of cargo entering the US.
  • Features two pairs of parallel runways.
  • Most cargo facilities are located to the north and west of the main terminal.
  • Easy onward distribution of goods into New York City, Newark, Stamford, and Trenton.

Connected Airports in the UAE: Dubai Al Maktoum, Dubai International, Abu Dhabi.

UAE to New York JFK Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates SkyCargo, Etihad Crystal Cargo.

IATA Code: JFK.

Other Airports in the US

Shipa Freight can also arrange for shipments from the UAE to land at the following airports in the US:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • El Paso
  • Denver
  • Charlotte
  • Atlanta
  • Houston
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Cleveland
  • Boston
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Miami
  • Detroit

Why Ship From the UAE to the US With Shipa Freight?

If you’re looking for an easy way to ship commercial goods from the Middle East to the United States, Shipa Freight provides it. Our online platform is the cornerstone of our digitally driven approach to international shipping.

We’ve ensured that our website makes global logistics simple. That includes registering, getting quotes, booking freight, and tracking your shipments. You can perform all these tasks online with ease, with your consignment professionally coordinated in the background by our skilled team of logistics professionals.

Here are a few more reasons why you should choose Shipa Freight to arrange your shipping from the UAE to the US:

  • Easily pay for your shipping online with a card.
  • Get guidance regarding the paperwork that needs to accompany your consignment.
  • Leave the complex customs process management to us.
  • See all your imports and exports in one place—on our website.
  • Track your shipment from your tablet, laptop, desktop computer, or phone.
  • Call on the friendly and knowledgeable Shipa Freight customer service team anytime—day or night.

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

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