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Ocean and Air Shipping from the US to Finland

FCL, LCL and Air shipping comprehensive guide and instant online quote

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Updated on 28 Nov 202114 min read

Two-way trade between the United States and Finland totaled $9 billion in 2018. Less than $2 billion of that was generated by imports from the US to Finland. By early 2020, Finland ranked number 56 in the list of the US’s most prolific trade partners.

Experienced and novice shippers alike who seek to export from the US to Finland should find this page a rich resource of useful information. Its varied content includes details on ocean and air shipping, ports, airports, customs clearance, as well as shipment prices and transit times.

What Are Your Options for Shipping Freight From the US to Finland?

Air and ocean shipping are the two most viable ways for your business to move freight from the US to Finland. Each type of transportation has advantages and disadvantages which will be outlined below.

Ocean Freight From the US to Finland

Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL ocean shipping requires your goods to share a container with products from other shippers. Should you be planning to ship a small consignment that isn’t urgently required in Finland, LCL is likely to be the most cost-efficient mode of shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL): FCL ocean shipping requires your company to rent an entire container and pay for its shipment to Finland. Only your goods will be inside the container, and you’re not obliged to fill the interior space completely. FCL is usually quicker and, for larger shipments, often less expensive than LCL.

Air Freight from the US to Finland

The fastest way to import from the US to Finland is by air freight. Shipments take a matter of days (rather than weeks as with ocean freight). But air freight transportation carries a higher price tag.

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

To calculate the cost of shipping your cargo, a freight forwarder needs to answer the following questions:

  • What type of freight is being shipped?
  • What is the size, weight and volume of the cargo?
  • Has the shipper chosen LCL or FCL ocean shipping, or air freight?
  • How far must the goods be transported?
  • Does the customer require door-to-door, port-to-door, port-to-port, or door-to-port delivery?

If you are unsure whether ocean or air freight will best suit your needs and budget, there’s no harm in asking a freight forwarder to supply quotes for both.

As a rough guide, you shouldn’t expect much of a difference in the cost of ocean or air shipping if your goods weigh under 100 kg. But you should be aware that freight forwarders do not quote for consignments weighing 35 kg or less.

For goods that tip the scales above 100 kg, ocean shipping is likely to offer you the most cost-effective option, as air freight is expensive for heavier consignments.

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

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

It’s just over 6,000 km from the US east coast to Finland’s capital city of Helsinki. Los Angeles on the west coast is over 9,000 km away. If speed is of the essence and the cost is not a concern, air freight is your best option. Shipping air freight from the US to Finland typically takes five to seven days.

Shipping a container from the US to Finland with an ocean carrier takes significantly longer, usually at least 27 days.

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

Trans-Atlantic shipments from the US to Finland take several weeks. Precise durations will depend on whether you ship from a port on the East, South, or West Coast of the United States, and your choice of FCL or LCL shipping. As an example, you should anticipate 27 days of transit time for an LCL shipment from Atlanta to Helsinki.

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

Freight forwarders are almost certain to route all air freight from the US into Finland’s Helsinki International Airport. Shipments will typically take five to seven days. That’s certainly the case for consignments being flown into Helsinki from New York’s JFK Airport.

Customs Clearance in the US and Finland

Customs clearance is an essential part of every commercial goods export from the US to Finland. It is a complex process, which is why many businesses choose to hire a freight forwarder to manage it. Even when you hire a freight forwarder, though, you’ll still have an important role to play.

For example, you’ll be required to complete and file important documentation that must accompany your consignment. The documents will be required for export customs clearance in the US, and for import clearance at the destination port or airport.

The requirements include:

  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. An Airway Bill for air cargo or a Bill of Lading for ocean freight (you can leave this to Shipa Freight)

Depending on the type of goods you are shipping, you may also be required to supply a license, permit, or certificate with your shipment. To take a closer look at the documents listed above, please head over to this handy documents list page we’ve compiled.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Transporting a shipping container from the US to Finland is a slow process. Ocean carriers move at an average speed of 35 kilometers per hour. With cargo vessels having to travel over 16,000 km from the US west coast to Helsinki Port via the Panama Canal, that’s a long journey for your sea freight.

Wherever in the United States your freight begins its journey east to Finland, the chances are that it will ship in a standard container aboard a cargo vessel. Shipping containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes with 20ft or 40ft-long containers that open at one end, suiting most types of freight.

Should your commodities require a non-standard container—such as one with refrigeration or ventilation capabilities—your forwarder will advise.

Your freight forwarder will also help you determine if FCL or LCL ocean shipping suits your consignment best. To help you make an informed decision, see the following details about each option:

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

You might be best advised to choose LCL shipping if:

  • You’re shipping a small quantity of goods—no more than six standard pallets
  • There is no urgent need for your goods to be in Finland
  • You’re relaxed about your cargo sharing a shipping container with other goods
  • You don’t have the facilities to load a container with your freight
  • You understand that the logistics of consolidation and deconsolidation could increase shipment time in comparison with FCL freight.

LCL might not be best for you if:

  • Your goods must be in Finland by a certain date
  • You don’t want your goods handled more than is necessary to avoid damaging them
  • Your freight is perishable or fragile and might not last the long journey time
  • Your consignment is large, heavy or awkwardly-shaped, so not suited to sharing a container

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

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Importing from the US to Finland using an FCL service might be best for you if:

  • Your goods are expected in Finland by a specific date
  • Your goods are not suited to sharing a container
  • You wish to seal your container in the US and want it to remain sealed until arrival in Finland
  • You’re shipping a large volume of goods that will occupy at least half the capacity of a 20ft container

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

Air Freight

Air shipping could be your best mode of transport if:

  • You want the quickest shipping
  • You’re transporting perishables like plants, flowers, or food
  • Your cargo is needed in Finland urgently
  • You want a lower insurance premium than you’d pay for ocean shipping
  • Your freight is high-value and requires the levels of security employed by airport operators
  • Your consignment is small, perhaps no more than three pallets

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

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US


Port Facts:

  • Used by 13 of the world’s top-15 container carriers
  • Ranked America’s most productive port thanks to 37 crane movements per hour
  • Cargo throughput accounts for 6.4% of all US trade with Finland
  • Plans have been drawn up to provide the North Charleston area of the port with a new container terminal

Owned By: South Carolina Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.4 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Officially called the Helen Delich Bentley Port of Baltimore
  • Handled a record 43.6 million tonnes of cargo in 2019
  • Cargo throughput accounts for over 8% of all US trade with Finland
  • Ranked the number one port in the United States for the number of vehicle imports and exports
  • Welcomed its largest-ever ship in 2019—the 14.424 TEU Evergreen Triton

Owned By: Maryland Port Administration.

Annual Container Volume: > 1 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • The largest container hub in the Gulf of Mexico
  • Over 70% of ocean freight moving through the Gulf is processed here
  • Features two container terminals—Barbours Cut and Bayport
  • The Port of Houston is 10,865 km from the Port of Helsinki in Finland
  • A convenient major seaport for any supplier or manufacturer in Austin, San Antonio, Galveston, Fort Worth, or Dallas

Owned By: Port of Houston Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.9 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on Dodge Island on the banks of the Miami River
  • Known as the container gateway to the Americas
  • Annual tonnage of freight processed exceeds 7.4 million
  • The largest port in Florida
  • The US’ ninth-biggest container facility
  • The closest port in the US to the Panama Canal (1,850 km)
  • Easy access from Downtown Miami via a causeway over the Intercoastal Waterway

Owned By: Miami Dade County.

Annual Container Volume: >1.1 million TEUs.


Long Beach

Port Facts

  • The US' second-busiest container port
  • Located adjacent to the US’ busiest container hub—the Port of Los Angeles
  • Spans a 13-square kilometer site and 40 kilometers of waterfront
  • Only three kilometers outside of downtown Long Beach
  • Cargo vessels shipping containers from Long Beach to Helsinki must travel over 16,000 km via the Panama Canal

Owned By: City of Long Beach.

Annual Container Volume: >8.1 million TEUs.


Other Ports in the US

Shipa Freight can also ship goods to Finland from the following ports in the United States:

  • New York
  • Port Everglades
  • Boston
  • Seattle
  • New Orleans
  • Savannah
  • Oakland
  • Atlanta
  • San Francisco
  • Tacoma
  • Los Angeles
  • Norfolk
  • Mobile

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Finland


Port Facts:

  • Western Finland’s largest container port
  • Container terminal occupies an 18-hectare site
  • Infrastructure includes three gantry cranes and three quays
  • Handled a record 278,000 TEUs in 2017
  • Ideal port of arrival for consignees in Kolla, Nurmes, and Unaja

Owned By: Euroports Rauma Ltd.

Annual Container Volume: >278,000 TEUs.


Helsinki (Helsingfors)

Port Facts:

  • Handled over 14.5 million tonnes of goods in 2018
  • Cargo throughput accounts for 33% of Finland’s trade
  • Vuosaari Harbor is the port’s container hub

Owned By: City of Helsinki.

Annual Container Volume: >491,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Situated on the banks of the Oulujoki River
  • The biggest general port in Bothnian Bay
  • More than 3.5 million tonnes of freight is handled here every year
  • Containerized freight is processed at the Oritkari docks
  • Ideal port for consignees based in Kiiminki, Tyrnava, and Kempele

Owned By: City of Oulu.

Annual Container Volume: >52,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on the shores on the Gulf of Finland
  • The result of a merger of two neighboring ports—Kotka and Hamina
  • The Mussala container terminal is the biggest in Finland
  • Just 280 km from St Petersburg in Russia

Owned By: Hamina-Kotka Satama Oy.

Annual Container Volume: >55,000 TEUs.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in the US

Los Angeles

Airport Facts:

  • World’s tenth-busiest air freight facility
  • Commonly known as LAX
  • Serves Southern California
  • The majority of freight arrives aboard passenger aircraft
  • Two million tonnes of cargo was processed here in 2019

Finland Airports Served: Helsinki.

Los Angeles to Finland Cargo-Only Operators: None.


San Francisco

Airport Facts:

  • Located 21 kilometers to the south of San Francisco
  • Handles 575, 000 tonnes of air freight annually
  • Infrastructure includes four terminals and four runways
  • Major freight hub for suppliers or manufacturers based in San Jose, Salinas, and Modesto

Finland Airports Served: Helsinki.

San Francisco to Finland Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Officially called Cleveland Hopkins International Airport
  • Located 14 km southwest of downtown Cleveland
  • Cargo throughput accounts for over 5% of all US trade with Finland
  • Ohio’s busiest airport
  • Faciities include two parallel runways and one crosswind runway
  • Rated ‘Most Improved North American Airport’ by the Airports Council International in 2018

Finland Airports Served: None.

Cleveland to Finland Cargo-Only Operators: None.


New York JFK

Airport Facts:

  • Processes a larger volume of commodities than any other US airport
  • Cargo throughput accounts for over 6% of all US trade with Finland
  • Shipments to Helsinki can be completed in five to seven days

***Finland Airports Served: Helsinki.

New York to Finland Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Chicago O’Hare

Airport Facts:

  • Number one airport in the US for the total value of freight handled (over $200 billion a year)
  • Cargo throughput accounts for nearly 6% of all US trade with Finland
  • Used by more than 25 global cargo carriers
  • Finland Airports Served: Helsinki.

Chicago to Finland Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in the US

Shipa Freight can also fly goods to Finland by direct or indirect services from these other US airports:

  • Miami
  • Cincinnati
  • Dallas
  • El Paso
  • Charlotte
  • Houston
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Denver
  • Atlanta
  • Sacramento
  • San Diego
  • Boston
  • Detroit

Airport of Arrival in Finland


Airport Facts:

  • Also known as Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport
  • Located 17 kilometers north of the city of Helsinki
  • Finland’s biggest airport
  • I nfrastructure includes three runways
  • Capacity to handle 450,000 tonnes of freight per year
  • A new cargo terminal opened here in 2018

Connected Airports in the US: Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York.

US to Finland Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Ocean and Air Shipping From the US to Finland: Why Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight makes it easier for all kinds of businesses to import from the US to Finland. We take away the hassles associated with international shipping and customs clearance, giving shippers an online platform that brings fresh simplicity to supply chains.

Choose Shipa Freight when importing from the US to Finland for the following benefits:

  • Easy registration for new customers
  • Quick quotes
  • Book and pay for shipping online
  • Leave customs complexities to us
  • Call on the support of a friendly customer service team 24/7
  • Rely on us to ensure your consignment is compliant with shipping rules and regulations

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