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Ocean & Air Shipping From the UK to Saudi Arabia

Information and quote from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia for LCL, FCL and Air shipping

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The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a wealthy country that’s in the process of diversifying its foreign trade relationships. Consumerism here is on the rise, as it is in other Middle Eastern countries, creating new opportunities for British businesses to export from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia.

Those opportunities are all the more appealing as a result of positive trade relations between the UK and the KSA. Indeed Great Britain is among Saudi Arabia’s top-ten import trade partners.

If your enterprise is exploring the possibilities for importing from the UK to Saudi Arabia, you will, at some point, want to know a little about your shipping options. If so, you’re on the right page, because you’ll find all the information you need about ocean and air shipping from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia right here.

How to Ship Ocean Freight From the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia

Freight forwarding professional leaning on a stack of cartons, adjacent to the flags of the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia

It would be tough to import from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia without using either air freight or ocean freight services. That’s unless, of course, you plan to ship goods in minimal quantities.

Assuming that’s not the case, and that your shipments will comprise at least a few pallets of freight at a time, ocean shipping will be your most economical option. Few locations in the UK are far from a commercial port, and most ports serve as export gateways for LCL and FCL cargo.

Meanwhile, the Saudi ports of Dammam and Jeddah are amply equipped to receive sea freight from the British Isles. On arrival, several logistics companies are available to process your imports and transport them to the KSA’s commercial centers, such as Riyadh, Mecca, Medina, Khobar, and Tabuc.

If you’re not familiar with the forms of container shipping that you can use for your goods, check out the brief explanations of LCL and FCL freight published on this page. You’ll also find some useful mini-guides to some of the principal ports in the UK and the KSA, between which you can ship your cargo.

Shipping Containers: Type, Size, and Capacity

Whichever mode of ocean freight you decide to use, you should know a little about the one common transportation essential—aside from a ship, of course. That one imperative is called a shipping container. LCL and FCL shipping both require an ocean carrier that will transport your goods in a shipping container from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia.

If you plan to ship your goods using an FCL service, it will certainly pay to know your container sizes, the most commonly used of which are as follows:

  • 20-foot containers – These containers have a capacity of 33.2 cubic meters, and can take 11 Euro pallets or ten standard pallets of freight.
  • 40-foot containers – These are the largest shipping containers in general use, and have 67.7 cubic meters of capacity, enabling them to hold 24 Euro pallets or 21 standard pallets.

Choose the Right Shipping Service

Another common factor in LCL and FCL ocean freight, is the possibility to choose different types of service. These options typically apply when you use a freight forwarder to take care of your international shipping. Many freight forwarders offer the following services, any of which you can request for your shipments from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia:

  • Door-to-door shipping: Includes all transportation from the premises of the seller to the buyer’s or the recipient’s chosen final destination.
  • Port-to-port shipping: Includes ocean shipping from the UK to Saudi Arabia, but no domestic transportation in either country.
  • Door-to-port shipping: Includes domestic transportation in the country of export, and ocean shipping to the port of discharge.
  • Port-to-Door shipping: Includes ocean shipping from a port of loading in the country of export, and domestic transportation in the country of import.

Less than Container Load (LCL) From the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia

Will your shipments occupy less than five or six pallets? If so, LCL shipping will probably be your preferred option for ocean freight from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia. Although LCL means your cargo will share container space with other shippers' goods, it is typically the most cost-effective approach for smaller consignments.

With this method of shipping, your freight forwarder will send your goods to a consolidation center. There they may wait for some days while enough cargo is accumulated to fill a container. Consolidators will then load your consignment into the container with other shippers' products, to utilize all the space inside.

Once full, your forwarder will send the container from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, where it will once again, proceed to a consolidation center—this time for deconsolidation. At that point, your goods will be unloaded from the container. They will then be available for onward transportation to their final destination in the KSA.

Full Container Load (FCL) From the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia

For larger shipments from the UK to the KSA, you will probably benefit most from FCL shipping. FCL is short for full container load, but it does not mean the container must be filled with your goods. For instance, if you have less than a full load, but would rather have your products isolated from those of other shippers, you can opt for FCL shipping.

Note, though, that if your goods occupy fewer than six pallets, the cost of FCL shipping will probably be higher than that of LCL freight. This mode of ocean transportation is most cost-effective when you can fill a 20-foot or 40-foot shipping container.

Cargo Ports of Origin in the United Kingdom

As an exporter in the United Kingdom, your business is in an enviable position, since your transport costs from supplier to port need never be that high. Nowhere in the UK is more than around 115 kilometers from the sea, and with plenty of ports located around the country, your goods will not travel far overland.

Here you’ll find some details of the principal container ports in the British Isles.

London Gateway

Port Facts

  • The fastest-growing ocean port in the United Kingdom
  • Boasts the most technologically advanced container terminal in the UK
  • Can accommodate the largest container vessels currently afloat
  • The 19th busiest container port in Europe
  • The 67th busiest container port in the world
  • Known for reliable and safe cargo handling practices

Owned By: DP World.

Annual Container Volume: >2 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBLGP.

Felixstowe

Port Facts

  • Nearly 50% of the United Kingdom’s container traffic passes through this port
  • The biggest port in the UK
  • Europe’s seventh-busiest port
  • Among the 50 busiest container ports in the world
  • Has two container terminals, known as Landguard and Trinity

Owned By: Hutchison Port Holdings.

Annual Container Volume: >3.8 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBFXT.

Belfast

Port Facts

  • Northern Ireland’s premier container port
  • Handles around 250 container vessel movements per year
  • Currently undergoing improvements, with several new ship-to-shore and gantry cranes on order
  • 130,000 square meters of inside and outside storage is available at the port

Owned By: Belfast Harbour Commissioners.

Annual Container Volume: >125,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBBEL.

Southampton

Port Facts

  • Situated on England’s south coast, sheltered in an estuary
  • On-site customs operation boasts one-hour turnaround times
  • Enjoys efficient road and rail links connecting it to cities in Southern England
  • Has the means to handle loading and unloading of four container vessels simultaneously
  • Facilities include a specialized fruit and vegetable terminal
  • Includes 14,000 square meters of temperature-controlled storage

Owned By: Associated British Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >1.9 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBSOU.

Grangemouth

Port Facts

  • The largest commercial port in Scotland, the UK’s northernmost country
  • Most populated areas in Scotland are within a one-hour drive of the port
  • The container terminal can hold 12,000 containers at a time
  • The port lies midway between Scotland’s two principal cities—Edinburgh and Glasgow

Owned By: Forth Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >250,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBGRG.

Teesport

Port Facts

  • Situated on the Northeast coast of England
  • The UK’s third-largest port
  • One of Western Europe’s ten busiest ports
  • Facilities include two container terminals
  • Covers an area of 200 hectares

Owned By: PD Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBTEE.

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Saudi Arabia

Dammam

Port Facts

  • Located on the coast of the Persian Gulf
  • Excellent road and rail links to the interior of the KSA
  • The principal ocean freight gateway to central and eastern provinces
  • The port is earmarked for government investment of more than $750 million

Owned By: Saudi Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.5 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: SADMM.

Jeddah Islamic Port

Port Facts

  • The largest and busiest port in Saudi Arabia
  • Second only to Jebel Ali in Dubai for container throughput in the Middle East
  • Covers an area of 12 square kilometers
  • The port has more than 60 berths
  • Jeddah can accommodate the world’s largest container vessels
  • Four new gantry cranes were added in 2017 to boost container-handling capacity by 50%

Owned By: Saudi Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: SAJED.

Air Freight From the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia

Air shipping is a fast way for your business to get products from the UK to their destination in the KSA. If your budget can accommodate the higher costs of this freight mode, you will enjoy the benefits of a high-velocity supply chain.

Aside from rapid transit, though, there are other advantages to shipping your cargo via an airport instead of an ocean container terminal.

In short, air freight is more flexible, predictable, and secure than shipping by sea. However, it is probably practical only if your shipments are small enough to fit on three or four pallets.

You must also be sure that your goods are of a type that airlines will accept for transportation. There are more restrictions relating to the nature of products and materials that can be shipped by air, primarily for safety reasons.

If you do wish to take advantage of the speed of air freight, take a look at some of the UK airports from which you can fly your exports to Saudi Arabia. You’ll find details here on this page.

Airports of Origin in the United Kingdom

Birmingham

Airport Facts

  • Centrally located, making for easy transportation of goods from around the UK
  • Especially convenient for exporting from the Midlands region
  • The airport had been in operation for 80 years as of 2019
  • Handles more than 8,000 tonnes of freight annually
  • No direct flights to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Airports Served: None.

Birmingham to Saudi Arabia Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: BHX.

Manchester

Airport Facts

  • Situated 11 kilometers southwest of the city of Manchester
  • The airport is currently being expanded, at the cost of £1 billion
  • It’s an airport of departure for flights to some 200 destinations, including Saudi Arabia
  • Two runways are in operation, enabling plenty of flights to operate daily
  • Offers direct flights to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Airports Served: Jeddah.

Manchester to Saudi Arabia Cargo-Only Operators: Saudi Airlines Cargo.

IATA CODE: MAN.

Glasgow

Airport Facts

  • Scotland’ second-busiest airport
  • Eighth-busiest airport in the UK
  • Situated a few kilometers west of Glasgow
  • No direct flights to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Airports Served: None.

Heathrow to Saudi Arabia Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: GLA.

London-Heathrow

Airport Facts

  • The world’s seventh-busiest airport
  • Operates modern, extensive freight facilities
  • 19th busiest cargo-airport in the world
  • Handled 1.7 million tonnes of cargo in 2018
  • Offers several direct cargo flights to Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Airports Served: Riyadh, Jeddah.

Heathrow to Saudi Arabia Cargo-Only Operators: Saudi Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: LHR.

Airports of Arrival in Saudi Arabia

Jeddah

Airport Facts

  • Third-busiest airport in Saudi Arabia
  • Situated just to the north of Jeddah
  • Served by direct flights from two airports in the United Kingdom

Connected Airports in the United Kingdom: London Heathrow, Manchester.

United Kingdom to Jeddah Cargo-Only Operators: Saudi Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: JED.

Riyadh

Airport Facts

Located in the central region of Saudi Arabia Serves the Saudi capital city and surrounds Served by direct cargo flights from London Heathrow

Connected Airports in the United Kingdom: London Heathrow.

United Kingdome to Riyadh Cargo-Only Operators: Saudi Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: RUH.

Dammam

Airport Facts

  • Ideal airport of unloading for shipments to the eastern provinces of the Saudi kingdom.
  • The largest airport in the world by total area (780 square kilometers)
  • Utilized airport area 77,600 hectares
  • No direct flights from the United Kingdom

Connected Airports in the United Kingdom: None.

United Kingdom to Dammam Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: DMM.

Customs Clearance in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia

Customs stamp of wood and rubber, resting on a customs invoice document stamped with export customs clearance in red ink

Customs processing is a necessary evil of importing from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia, and is often the biggest headache for shippers. Your goods will undergo customs scrutiny before departure from the UK, and on arrival in the KSA.

If you don’t have the time or expertise available in your business to manage customs clearance, you’ll need to engage the services of a freight forwarder or customs broker. These agencies will take care of the process for you. However, you will still need to submit accurately completed documents, several of which must accompany your cargo.

The documents required can vary from shipment to shipment. Still, the following papers will be required in almost every case, to secure export clearance in the UK, and to ensure admission into Saudi Arabia:

  • Bill of lading (Should be provided by your carrier or freight forwarder)
  • Commercial invoice
  • Certificate(s) of origin
  • Tax invoice
  • Letter of credit
  • Packing list

If you’re not familiar with the documents listed above, our Document List page includes details of each of them, along with examples.

Shipping Transit Times From the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia

Typical ocean freight transit times between the United Kingdom and the KSA range from three to five weeks approximately. That does not include the time required for customs clearance and domestic transportation in the countries of export and import.

Air freight, as you might expect, is significantly faster. It enables your cargo to clear export customs, transit from the UK to Saudi Arabia, and clear import customs within eight days, assuming no unusual delays.

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

To give you a more precise idea of the time required for ocean shipping, here are a few examples of the routes available from the UK to Saudi Arabia, and their approximate transit times, as per the Shipa Freight database:

  • London Gateway to Jeddah – 20 days FCL
  • London Gateway to Ad Dammam – 32 days FCL
  • Southampton to Ad Dammam – 30 days FCL
  • Felixstowe to Jeddah – 22 days FCL

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

Eight days is the typical approximate transit time for cargo flying from London Heathrow, Birmingham, or Glasgow airports to Riyadh, Jeddah, or Dammam in Saudi Arabia. Timescales for direct and indirect flights do not differ notably. That's because much of the transit time is taken up by consolidation/deconsolidation and customs clearance procedures.

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

The cost of international freight is subject to a range of variables, such as the season, mode of shipping, type of goods, route, and others. LCL ocean freight is typically the least expensive for smaller shipments and FCL for larger consignments.

You might occasionally find small air-freight consignments cost slightly less to ship than they would if you sent them by sea. For shipments upward of 100 kilograms in weight, though, that's rarely the case. Indeed, for larger quantities of goods, the cost to ship by air can be many times more than sending the same volume as FCL ocean freight.

At the other end of the freight-volume scale, it’s important to note that shipments of less than 35 kilograms in weight should not be shipped with a freight forwarder. It would not be cost-effective to do so. For such small quantities, it is better to use an international courier service to help you with your exports from the United Kingdom to Saudi Arabia.

Why Ship From the UK to Saudi Arabia With Shipa Freight?

The information presented on this page is generic, and intended to help you get familiar with some of the nuances of international air and ocean freight shipping from the UK to Saudi Arabia. It’s valid regardless of whether you use a freight forwarder or not, and if you do, of which forwarder you choose to engage.

However, if you choose to ship your freight with us, we think you’ll be delighted with the difference.

Our digital forwarding platform and services, backed by the global network and asset-base of our parent company, Agility Logistics, provides you with many benefits missing from traditional forwarders. Here are a few of the reasons to choose us as your international logistics partner:

  • You don’t have to wait for several days to receive a quote.
  • You can book, pay for your freight, and track it, all via one online portal.
  • You can access the expertise and knowledge of our customer service team, any day, any time.
  • You can quickly convert your quote to a shipment booking, without the need for phone calls or faxes.
  • Our platform has a smart compliance engine to help you with shipping and customs documents and procedures.
  • If you’d like to give us a try, you can get an air or ocean freight quote right now, by completing the simple quotation form on this page. We’re ready and waiting to simplify your shipping—from the UK to Saudi Arabia, or anywhere.

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

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