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Ocean & Air Shipping From the UK to the US

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ℹ️ COVID-19 Tradelane Update: United Kingdom to the US

Ocean Freight: Blank sailings and service adjustments are impacting exports from the United Kingdom to the US. Container availability is variable, contributing to increased freight rates. Port turnaround times are affected by staff shortages and the need to deep-clean working areas between shifts.

Current Capacity Status Container Availability
Constrained Moderate container or equipment shortages

For more COVID-19 information relating to this and all other global tradelanes, remember to check our ocean freight update page regularly.

Air Freight: Less than 10% of passenger services from the UK are currently in operation, and airport terminal services are restricted. Rates are volatile, with increases of up to 200% on many routes.

Current Capacity Status % Tradelane capacity Impacted by Passenger Flight Cancellation % Capacity Impacted by Freighter Cancellations Charter situation
Significantly constrained 80-90% cargo capacity reduction 10-20% capacity reduction More charter movements than normal

Keep an eye on our COVID-19 air freight update page for the latest news about air cargo capacity and Coronavirus impacts.

Ship Air and Ocean Freight From the UK to the United States

Want a new, faster way to make the most of trade opportunities between the UK and the US? Up to November 2019, the United States had imported $57.6 billion of goods from the UK in that calendar year. Maybe you have an established customer base on the other side of the Atlantic, and you’re seeking an easier way to export or import from the UK to the US. Or you might have just signed a new contract to supply goods to a client Stateside.

Whatever your reason for needing to import or export from the United Kingdom to the US, Shipa Freight is a new breed of freight forwarder. Our online platform is making the previously complicated world of international shipping easier to navigate for businesses of all sizes.

Shipa Freight cuts the administrative time you need to spend organizing and coordinating shipments, so importing from the United Kingdom to the US using an international carrier becomes something your business can do, no matter its size.

Get a quote fast and, if you like it, book and pay for it online. You can also track your shipment via your smart devices and receive updates and alerts about your freight.

Our platform is a rich resource of international shipping information, thanks to the expertise of our parent company Agility Logistics. So why not make yours the next business to benefit from digital shipping the Shipa Freight way?

Booking a Shipping Container From the United Kingdom to the US

Warehouseman pushing a trolley filled with boxes, from the flag of the United Kingdom towards the flag of the United States

Trans-Atlantic ocean shipping from the United Kingdom to the US is so much easier with Shipa Freight. Our online platform brings digitized simplicity and convenience to the whole process.

We can help transport your goods from anywhere in the UK to your chosen port of origin, although you will need to arrange for your goods to be packed ready to ship. We also ensure your freight is loaded aboard a container vessel bound for your chosen port in the United States. Upon arrival and following discharge, we can also arrange for your goods to be delivered by road, rail, or river, to their final destination.

Whatever size of container your sea freight needs, and however many containers you require, Shipa Freight gives you the information to help you decide whether FCL or LCL ocean shipping is best for you.

Shipping a Less than Container Load (LCL) From the United Kingdom to the US

It’s good to share, certainly when it comes to international shipping on a budget. If you don’t mind your goods sharing a container from the United Kingdom to the US with goods from other companies, LCL could work out the most economical option for your business. Shipa Freight will give you a quick quote and an easy way to book and pay for your LCL shipping online.

LCL is popular with companies who don’t want or need to pay for a full shipping container from the United Kingdom to the US. Typically, LCL takes longer than FCL because your goods will first need to go to a warehouse in your UK port of origin for consolidation with other goods. De-consolidation will occur in port in the US. Both are processes that can delay your shipment.
Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Sending a Full Container Load (FCL) From the United Kingdom to the US

Shipa Freight makes booking, paying, and tracking FCL ocean freight consignments less hassle. This type of shipping will see your goods get a container to themselves—there’s no sharing as with LCL, so no consolidation or deconsolidation is required. FCL is a good choice if you want fewer touches of your goods during shipment—handy if you are sending perishable or fragile goods as ocean freight from the United Kingdom to the US.

You don’t need to fill your container to use FCL. You can load as little or as much as you like. A 20ft container will take a maximum of 10 or 11 standard pallets, while a 40-footer will hold up to 21.
Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Origin in the UK


Grangemouth is situated about halfway between Glasgow and the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. It’s Scotland’s largest port with excellent road and rail connections. These will make it easier to get your goods from your manufacturer or link in your supply chain to port from locations in Scotland and Northern England.

Owned By: Forth Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >250,000 TEUs.



Almost half the UK’s container trade is processed in this port, located to the Northeast of London. It ranks as Europe’s seventh-busiest and is the first choice for many shippers wanting to use a tried and trusted port to handle their goods and ship them to the US.

Owned By: Hutchison Port Holdings.

Annual Container Volume: >3.8 million TEUs.


London Gateway

The UK’s most technologically-advanced port is also its fastest-growing deep-sea facility. It welcomes the world’s biggest container vessels onto fully-equipped quaysides. Being close to London means there is a wealth of road and rail connections to the port, so if you use our door-to-port or door-to-door services, we’ll be able to get your goods to London Gateway from anywhere in the UK.

Owned By: DP World.

Annual Container Volume: >1.3 million TEUs.



Although located 16km inland from the Southern Coast of England, the port famous for launching the RMS Titanic launched over a century ago, is now a major UK ocean cargo hub. Four container vessels can be simultaneously loaded and unloaded here. If you’re exporting food or perishables to the US, a fresh fruit and vegetable terminal, plus 14,000 square meters of refrigerated storage make Southampton an attractive port of origin.

Owned By: Associated British Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >1.9 million TEUs.



If your supplier or manufacturer is based in Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland, Shipa Freight can arrange for your goods to be picked up and brought to the Port of Belfast and shipped to the United States. Belfast Port is responsible for almost 20% of all Ireland’s ocean trade, making it a vital logistics hub that’s just across the Atlantic from the US.

Owned By: Belfast Harbor Commissioners.

Annual Container Volume: >125,000 TEUs.


Shipa Freight is also able to arrange commercial goods shipments to the US from Teesport in the Northeast of England.

Cargo Ports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles

The journey time for your UK freight will be longer, but awaiting on the West Coast is the largest seaport in the US. It occupies a 70km stretch of California’s coastline and is responsible for handling 20% of the country’s ocean freight.

Owned By: City of Los Angeles.

Annual Container Volume: >9 million TEUs.


New Orleans

Port NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana) serves the United States’ Southern seaboard. It’s an international shipping gateway that generates over $100 million a year. Located on the Mississippi River, it’s equipped with six cranes to handle containers.

Owned By: The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.



Savannah’s river port is 30km from the coast and is popular with shippers from all over the world. It’s home to the biggest container terminal in the US and ideally located to receive shipments from the UK, especially ones destined for Eastern and Midwestern states.

Owned By: Georgia Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.



Oakland is a major port in San Francisco Bay on the Pacific Coast with six terminals and 33 ship-to-shore cranes. Discharging your freight from the UK here will mean you benefit from outstanding railroad links that can transport your goods across California and elsewhere in the Western United States.

Owned By: City of Oakland.

Annual Container Volume: 2.5 million.



Alabama’s only deep-water port empties into Mobile Bay and has access to the waterways that serve the Great Lakes and river valleys in Tennessee and Ohio. The container terminal enjoys direct access to two Interstate systems for easy onward transit. The port has benefited from over $500 million in investment to expand and improve the port’s facilities, including modernizing its container hub.

Owned By: Alabama State Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.


Other Destination Ports in the United States

Shipa Freight can also arrange to discharge your exports from the United Kingdom at the following ports:

  • Atlanta
  • New York
  • Miami
  • Tacoma
  • San Francisco
  • Norfolk
  • Boston
  • Charleston
  • Houston
  • Seattle
  • Baltimore
  • Long Beach
  • Port Everglades

Air Freight From the United Kingdom to the US

Hundreds of flights between the UK and the US take off and land daily. Shipa Freight has the contacts and know-how to get your goods aboard one of these passenger or cargo-only flights. You should consider using our air shipping services if your cargo is:

  • Urgently required in the United States
  • Fragile or perishable
  • Relatively small, filling a few pallets at most
  • Valuable and you want the high levels of security that an airport and airline provides

Airports of Origin in the UK


This Midlands airport is about as centrally located as you can get in England, being just 13km Southeast of the city center, near Junction 6 of the M42 motorway. It makes the airport easy to reach from a variety of locations across England.

US Airports Served: None.

Birmingham to US Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Glasgow Airport is 15km west of the city with the M8 motorway running to the south of the airfield. That makes it simple to access the facility by road. The port handles over 13,000 tonnes of cargo every year and serves as a major air gateway to the world for businesses based in Scotland and Northern England.

US Airports Served: New York.

Glasgow to US Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Approximately 12km south of Manchester city center, this airport has three terminals and two runways. Its world freight terminal features 510,000 square meters of warehouse and office space, with its annual throughput making it the fourth-busiest cargo hub in the UK.

US Airports Served: Philadelphia, New York, Los Angeles.

Manchester to US Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo.


London Heathrow

Occupying a 12km site to the west of London, Heathrow is the UK’s key air cargo hub. The airport’s operators are awaiting clearance for expansion plans that will increase the cargo handling capacity to three million tonnes by 2040. Currently, more UK-produced goods such as machinery parts and medicines are exported from Heathrow than from any other port in the UK.

US Airports Served: Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, San Francisco, Detroit.

Heathrow to US Cargo-Only Operators: IAG Cargo.


Airports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles

LAX, as this international airport is widely known, ranks as the world’s tenth-busiest for cargo, handling over 2 million tonnes in 2018. It’s a magnet for shippers importing or exporting air freight from the United Kingdom to the US. Get Shipa Freight to arrange for your goods to be aboard one of the many air freight flights landing here daily.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow.

UK to Los Angeles Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo.



Denver International Airport serves the Colorado area of the Western United States. 40km from downtown Denver, the airport is one- and-a-half times the size of Manhattan. It’s home to several world-leading freight movers including DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Total annual cargo throughput exceeds 235,000 tonnes.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow.

UK to Denver Cargo-Only Operators: IAG Cargo.



George Bush International Airport sits 37km north of Houston between Interstates 69 and 45. Freight handlers at the port shifted a record 500,000 tonnes of cargo in 2018, and the airport accounts for 20% of the state of Texas’ total international trade.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow, Manchester.

UK to Houston Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Officially called Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, this facility 14km Southwest of downtown Cleveland is adjacent to a NASA field center. It’s the largest and busiest airport in Ohio and has three runways. Cargo companies such as United Cargo and FedEx offer services from the airport to other destinations across the US.

Connected Airports in the UK: None.

UK to Cleveland Cargo-Only Operators: None.


San Francisco

A major gateway to Europe and Asia, San Francisco International Airport is 21km south of San Francisco. There are four intersecting runways at the airport. Over 500,000 tonnes of freight were loaded or unloaded in the airport’s 107,000 square meter cargo handling facility in 2018.

Connected Airports in the UK: London Heathrow.

UK to San Francisco Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Arrival Airports in the US

With Shipa Freight, you can also choose to land your goods from the UK at these airports in the US:

  • Chicago
  • New York
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • Philadelphia
  • Charlotte
  • Detroit
  • Sacramento
  • El Paso
  • Miami
  • Seattle
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Cincinnati
  • San Diego

Customs Clearance Procedures in the UK and US

Sorting out the paperwork required to clear customs can be one of the most complicated and time-consuming aspects of international shipping. Use Shipa Freight and the process becomes so much easier. We’ll highlight the documents you’ll need to complete and send with your shipment to ensure everything’s in order when your goods reach customs in the UK and the US.

The documents you need are as follows:

  • A full packing list
  • A signed letter of credit
  • Your certificate of origin
  • A tax invoice
  • A commercial invoice
  • Your bill of lading (you can leave this one to Shipa Freight)

Additional information about each of these documents can be found on this page.

How Long Does Does it Take to Get Cargo from the UK to the US?

The duration of your shipment will depend on your choice of air or ocean shipping, and whereabouts in the US your destination port is located. Eastern US arrival locations are quicker to reach from the UK, with container vessels from London to New York or Philadelphia taking around 15 to 17 days.

New Orleans on the South Coast takes up to 24 days to reach, while Los Angeles on the West Coast takes significantly longer—up to 32 days. You should allow five to eight days for air freight to reach the United States.

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

There are big differences in the shipping distances between the UK and different ports in the United States, as illustrated by these shipping duration examples:

  • London Gateway to New York—15 days FCL
  • London Gateway to Los Angeles—32 days FCL
  • London Gateway to Philadelphia—17 days FCL
  • London Gateway to Houston—*24 days FCL *

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

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

You should expect your air freight shipment from the UK to the US to take at least five days, as these examples show:

  • London Heathrow to New York—8 days
  • London Heathrow to Los Angeles—8 days
  • London Heathrow to Atlanta—8 days
  • London Heathrow to Houston—5 days
  • London Heathrow to San Francisco—8 days

Costs for Ocean and Air Shipping From the United Kingdom to the US

Weight. Dimensions. Volume. They will all have an impact on the quote Shipa Freight generates for your consignment from the UK to the US. The nature of your goods will also affect pricing, so too whether you wish to send your goods as sea freight or air cargo.

Shipa Freight also offers four delivery options: port to port, port to door, door to port and door to door. Each involves differing distances for your goods to travel and therefore different pricing.

Should you be unsure of the relative costs of ocean versus air shipping, it’s handy to know that air freight can be almost as cost-efficient as ocean shipping for consignments weighing under 100kg. If your shipments are above that weight, you may find there’s greater cost-efficiency in ocean freight. Please note that Shipa Freight does not provide freight-forwarding services for shipments weighing less than 35kg.

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