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Ocean and Air Shipping From the United Kingdom to India

Information and quote from United Kingdom to India for LCL, FCL and Air shipping

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Updated on 01 Mar 202215 min read

The two countries have seen bilateral trade grow rapidly during the last decade reaching $23.6 billion (USD) in 2017. Are you a startup looking for a fast and modern way to import or export from the United Kingdom to India? Maybe yours is an established business seeking relief from the complexity of international shipping.

Regardless of your size or status, we can help you with ocean and air shipping from the United Kingdom to India. On this page, you’ll find guidance pertaining to different shipping options, costs, transit times, customs clearance, and ports.

Know Your Options for Shipping From the United Kingdom to India

Warehouse operative pushing a trolley stacked with boxes, from the Union Flag of the United Kingdom towards the flag of India

Commercial shippers can send their freight from the United Kingdom to India via sea or air. Either option has its peculiarities, benefits, and drawbacks. You’ll learn more about those in the subsequent sections of this page.

Ocean Freight From the United Kingdom to India

Less than Container Load (LCL): Choosing LCL shipping means that your cargo will be loaded into a shared container, together with freight belonging to other shippers, for the journey from the UK to India. When you don’t want to hire an entire container, this is a suitable option. For small consignments, LCL is often the most affordable way to import from the United Kingdom to India.

Full Container Load (FCL): With FCL shipping, you will transact for the use and transportation of an entire container just for yourself at a flat fee. Your goods will travel safely, isolated in a separate unit, from the United Kingdom to India. Depending on the dimensions and weight of your cargo, this option might be cheaper than LCL.

Air Freight from the United Kingdom to India

Need to ship your freight from the United Kingdom to India fast? Then an air freight carrier will get the job done. Air cargo shipping is ideal when your business has small shipments that are needed urgently. However, air freight is often the most expensive mode of transport.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From the UK to India?

Bag of money and graph to represent the cost of Shipa Freight's quotes

When you request a quote from a freight forwarder, you’ll receive a price that’s tailored to the nature of your shipment and your requirements. The type of goods, along with your consignment’s weight, dimensions, and volume will all have a bearing on the price you are quoted.

Other variables will affect the cost, such as your choice of air or ocean freight service from the United Kingdom to India, and whether you select our door-to-port, port-to-door, port-to-port or door-to-door service.

Shipa Freight provides quotes on all consignments weighing over 35kg. If your goods weigh between 35kg and 100kg air freight might be a cost-effective—and fast—option. Over that weight, and you might want to consider ocean freight.

How Long Does It Take To Ship Freight From the UK to India?

Over 7,600 kilometers separate the United Kingdom and India—and that’s as the crow flies. Ocean vessels have to take an even longer route from port to port. For that reason, you need to allow 30-31 days for your consignment to reach India with ocean shipping. Air freight can be delivered within four to eight days.

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From the UK to India?

Shipa Freight can arrange and manage inter-continental shipments from the UK to various ports in India. The examples below show some typical shipping durations between the stated ports:

  • London Gateway to Nhava Sheva—27 days FCL
  • Felixstowe to Nhava Sheva—31 days FCL
  • London Gateway to Tuticorin —39 days FCL
  • Southampton to Nhava Sheva—32 days FCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From the UK to India?

The examples below provide a guide to how long you should allow for your air freight to ship from London Heathrow or other UK airports to various destinations on the Indian subcontinent:

  • London Heathrow to Mumbai—6 days
  • London Heathrow to Delhi—4 days
  • London Heathrow to Bangalore—8 days
  • London Heathrow to Hyderabad—3 days
  • Birmingham to Delhi or Mumbai—3 days
  • London Heathrow to Ahmedabad or Chennai—3 days
  • Manchester to Delhi—3 days

Customs Clearance in the UK and India

When importing from the United Kingdom to India, you can’t get around customs clearance. If you can’t risk delays or other problems, we recommend that you engage a professional freight forwarder or agent for this task. An experienced partner will guarantee that all formalities are completed according to the current laws and regulations.

Even when you hire a freight forwarder, you are still responsible for submitting the necessary documents. The customs authorities in the United Kingdom and India will likely want to see at least the following paperwork:

  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)

To save you a bit more time, we’ve created a page that features the above forms and documents so you can take a closer look if you need to. The page can be found here.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

For most ocean shipping from the UK to India, a 20ft or 40ft container that opens at one end and takes pallets, skids, or loose loads will suffice. Depending on the nature of the sea freight you wish to import from the United Kingdom to India though, you might want to consider other options, such as open-top, half-height, or refrigerated containers.

Another decision you’ll need to make is whether to ship FCL or LCL—terms we’ll explain below. You’ll also need to select your port of origin in the UK and the port in India where you want to discharge your consignment.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

LCL is the shipping equivalent of sharing a taxi. Your freight will occupy container space alongside other goods heading for the same destination. The reason for choosing LCL can be convenience or cost-based, sometimes both.

If you’re relaxed about your goods being stored alongside other ocean freight from the United Kingdom to India, LCL can be a cost-effective option. LCL shipments can sometimes be subject to short delays due to the consolidation process that occurs in port before departure, and deconsolidation upon arrival in India. Goods sent by LCL are also likely to be handled more, which might not suit fragile or perishable products or materials.

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

You don’t need to fill a container to use the FCL service. The term is used to distinguish the process from LCL, in which your freight shares container space in a container with other goods. With FCL, you ship a container from the United Kingdom to India, occupied by your goods alone. You can choose to fill your container or part-fill it—it’s up to you.

There is no consolidation or deconsolidation with FCL, so fewer touches of your goods will be required, making it suitable for fragile or perishable goods. Before a carrier transports your shipping container from the United Kingdom to India, it will be sealed at your manufacturing hub or a UK location in your supply chain. It will stay sealed until arriving at your chosen destination in India—unless customs teams decide to inspect your goods.

Air Freight

Airlines tend to run to stricter schedules than ocean cargo carriers, which usually results in faster loading and unloading. That makes for faster shipping by air freight from the United Kingdom to India, aided, of course, by the sheer speed of an aircraft. The upshot is that if your goods are urgently required in India, air shipping is the fastest option.

Your freight will have to adhere to the guidelines governing air freight, as not all goods are suited to transport aboard passenger or cargo-only flights. Some goods will benefit from being shipped by air, including temperature and time-sensitive freight, such as plants and food, as well as fragile goods. That’s because as well as less time in transit, there is less handling involved.

Other reasons to choose shipment via air cargo include:

Security—airlines and airports are tight on security for obvious reasons Shipment size—if your cargo is only enough to fill a few pallets, flying it to India could offer the most cost-effective shipping Convenience—it may be the case that you have an airport near to your pick-up and drop-off destinations, which can be a big benefit if those locations are far from the coast.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in the United Kingdom


Port Facts:

  • Home to the UK’s second-largest container terminal.
  • Refrigerated storage areas can keep your goods fresh.
  • Houses a dedicated terminal for vegetables and fruit.
  • Easy to reach from London and other manufacturing and commercial hubs in Southern England.

Owned By: Associated British Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >1.9 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located two kilometers inland from the North Sea on the River Tees in Northern England.
  • The third-largest port in the UK.
  • One of the top-ten busiest ports in Western Europe.
  • Annual throughput exceeds 56 million tonnes of freight.
  • Has two computerized container terminals with the capacity to handle 500,000 TEUs annually.

Owned By: PD Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Processed nearly 25 million tonnes of goods in 2018.
  • Ideal port for any supplier based in Ireland.
  • Offers 185,000 square meters of warehouse space.
  • Part of the Belfast Harbor Estate, which also features George Best Belfast City Airport.

Owned By: Belfast Harbor Commissioners.

Annual Container Volume: >125,000 TEUs.


London Gateway

Port Facts:

  • New port, serving the English capital city and Southern England since 2013.
  • Semi-automated cargo processing.
  • State-of-the-art warehousing and distribution facilities.
  • Great port of origin for FCL and LCL shipping to India.

Owned By: DP World.

Annual Container Volume: >1.3 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Processes close to half of all the UK’s containerized cargo.
  • Ranks as Europe’s eighth-busiest port.
  • Seventeen shipping lanes operate from the port.

Owned By: Hutchison Port Holdings.

Annual Container Volume: >3.8 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Situated in Scotland, the most northerly country in the United Kingdom.
  • Scotland’s biggest commercial port.
  • 70% of the Scottish population lives within an hour’s drive of this Port.
  • Excellent rail and road links to all areas of the Scottish mainland.

Owned By: Forth Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >250,000 TEUs.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in India

Nhava Sheva

Port Facts:

  • Created to relieve pressure on the neighboring Port of Mumbai.
  • Key cargo hub that processes over 50% of India’s container traffic.
  • Has five terminals to receive your goods.
  • Offers transport links to manufacturing and consumer hubs in Central and Western India.

Owned By: Government of India.

Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Home to India’s fourth-largest container hub.
  • Artificial port in Tamil Nadu.
  • Has a freight terminal with three quay cranes.
  • The government is investing more than $1 billion to expand the port’s cargo-handling facilities.

Owned By: V.O. Chidambaranar Port Trust.

Annual Container Volume: >560,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located near the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
  • Impressive cargo handling facilities.
  • Easy access to roads, railroads, and waterways.
  • Ideal for buyers in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, or the surrounding areas.

Owned By: Cochin Port Trust.

Annual Container Volume: >400,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Best for customers in Western India.
  • Railroad and highway connections allow for speedy transit of your goods to onward destinations.
  • Has eight cranes on the quayside to transfer containers into warehouses for discharge or deconsolidation.

Owned By: A.P. Moller Maersk Group.

Annual Container Volume: >880,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Previously known as Madras Port.
  • Second-largest container port in India.
  • One of the oldest ports in the country, having opened in 1881.
  • Has two mega container terminals.

Owned By: Chennai Port Trust, Ministry of Shipping.

Annual Container Volume: >15.4 million TEUs.


Other Ports in India

It should also be possible to ship from the UK to the following ports in India:

  • Haldia
  • Mundra
  • Kattupalli
  • Hazira
  • Kolkata
  • Visakhapatnam
  • Krishnapatnam
  • Mormugao

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in the UK


Airport Facts:

  • Scotland’s second-busiest airport
  • Eighth-busiest airport in the British Isles.
  • Situated 16 kilometers to the west of Central Glasgow

UAE Airports Served: Dubai.

Heathrow to UAE Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates SkyCargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Located in central England.
  • Best for suppliers in the Midlands.
  • Processes 8,400 tonnes of cargo annually.

India Airports Served: Delhi.

Birmingham to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.


London Heathrow

Airport Facts:

  • Biggest air freight hub in the UK.
  • Boasts extensive cargo-handling facilities.
  • Located to the West of London.
  • Road and railway links give you many ways to get your goods to the airport.

India Airports Served: Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bangalore.

Heathrow to India Cargo-Only Operators: Cathay Pacific Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Situated a few kilometers southwest of Central Manchester
  • The airport is currently undergoing a significant expansion, to be completed by 2024.
  • Infrastructure includes a cargo terminal and two runways.

UAE Airports Served: Abu Dhabi, Dubai.

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


Airports of Arrival in India


Airport Facts:

  • Close to one million tonnes of air freight passes through every year.
  • The freight terminal has refrigerated storage space, ideal for shipping perishables.
  • The apron has room for five wide-body aircraft to simultaneously load or unload.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow.

UK to Mumbai Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Officially known as Indira Gandhi International Airport.
  • Ranks number one in India for air-freight throughput.
  • Direct flights from London Heathrow and Birmingham.
  • Ideal destination airport for urgent shipments.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow, Birmingham.

UK to Delhi Cargo-Only Operators: Cathay Pacific Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Known as Kempegowda International Airport.
  • Serves the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka.
  • Located 40 kilometers north of Bangalore City.
  • Boasts three cargo terminals.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow.

UK to Bangalore Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Named Rajiv Gandhi International Airport.
  • Located 24 kilometers to the south of Hyderabad.
  • Receives direct flights from London Heathrow.
  • The cargo terminal is a key hub for several major freight carriers.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow.

UK to Hyderabad Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Located a little over 20 kilometers to the south of the city center.
  • Third-busiest airport in India for international cargo traffic.
  • The air cargo complex was created in 1978.
  • Import facilities cover 16,500 square meters.
  • The airport’s apron can accommodate three wide-body aircraft at once.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow.

UK to Chennai Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in India

Other airports in India that can accommodate air freight shipments from the UK include:

  • Ahmedabad
  • Kolkata
  • Cochin
  • Coimbatore

Why Ship From the UK to India With Shipa Freight?

You don’t want to take any chances when shipping your freight from the United Kingdom to India. Transporting your goods with us will give you the peace of mind that your cargo will arrive safely and in the most cost-efficient way. Whether you want to ship by sea or air, we can meet all of your global logistics needs.

With our industry-leading online platform, managing your shipping process is now easier than ever. You can simplify your supply chain and don’t have to coordinate several agencies anymore. As a freight forwarding partner, Shipa Freight can offer you the following advantages:

  • Receive and compare quotes online in an instant.
  • Book your shipment directly online without losing time.
  • Get guidance on shipping documentation.
  • We will manage the customs complexities for you.
  • Manage all of your imports and exports in one place.
  • Talk to our friendly customer service agents 24/7 via email, phone, or chat.
  • Your shipments will always comply with international and country-specific rules and regulations.

Know Your Shipping Terminology

Some of the jargon and complicated terminology used by shipping experts can be confusing. To help build your understanding of the language of shipping, we’re explaining some of the confusing terms in common usage on our country-to-country pages. Two examples are below.

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