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Ocean and Air Freight Shipping From the US to France

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

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Updated on 04 Jul 202114 min read

France and the US are two nations that enjoy a strong bond—one that goes all the way back to 1776 when the United States gained independence. France was one of the first allies of the newly formed US and later gifted the Statue of Liberty to commemorate their alliance. With regard to trade, the United States was France’s seventh-largest import origin in 2017, accounting for 5.2% of all French imports.

If you are planning to import from the US to France, then this is the right page for you. We have gathered vital information that will assist you in navigating the intricacies of international ocean and air freight logistics. Our guidance will help you ship your freight from the US to France successfully.

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

Flags of US and France to show Shipa Freight capacity to ship from the US to France You have two options when importing from the US to France: ocean freight and air freight. Let’s look at both of them.

Ocean Freight From the US to France

Less than Container Load (LCL): With LCL, you pay for your cargo to occupy space in a shared container. As you don’t need to pay for a full container, this mode of transport is often the most economical way to ship your freight from the US to France. Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL Shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL): FCL means paying for freight-shipment in a container that you can use exclusively. As you are paying a flat fee for the entire container, this mode of transport is sometimes even less expensive than LCL. Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL Shipping.

Air Freight from the US to France

When you need to send exports from the US to France in a hurry, air freight is undoubtedly your fastest option. However, you will have to pay the price. Air shipping is often much more expensive than sea freight.

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

The cost of shipping air freight, or cargo in a container from the United States to France depends on several aspects. A freight forwarder will typically take the following factors into consideration when preparing your quote:

  • Nature of goods
  • Chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL, Air)
  • Weight of the cargo
  • Dimensions of the cargo
  • Distance between supplier/origin and recipient/destination
  • Type of service (such as Port-to-Port, Door-to-Door)

The mode of transport you choose will likely have the largest impact on your costs. It is good to know that the price for air freight won’t differ much from that of ocean freight when you are shipping 100 kg or less. In this case, you can simply choose the quicker option. For goods of 100 kg or more, sea freight will usually be the less expensive choice.

In addition, you need to be aware that most freight forwarders, including Shipa Freight, won’t handle consignments of 35 kg or less. You should engage an international courier service instead for shipments in this weight bracket.

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

Hourglass and a calendar to represent the transit time of shipments with Shipa Freight Sending your goods over the Atlantic via air or sea will result in vastly different transit times. With air freight, your cargo can reach its destination in as little as two days. You may wonder why it takes so long, considering that the actual flight time is just a few hours. It’s simply because customs and security checks, as well as loading and unloading, add to the overall transit time.

Shipping a container from the US to France will be considerably slower. The final transit time will largely vary by origin. Reaching France from the East Coast of the US is much quicker than shipping from the West Coast. In general, you can plan on durations of around 24 days.

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

To quote a couple of examples of transit times for shipping ocean freight between the United States and France, our FCL service from Houston to Le Havre takes around 23 days, while an LCL shipment from Boston to Le Havre can be completed in approximately 24 days.

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

Here are a few examples of transit times for typical air freight routes between the United States and France:

  • Miami to Paris – 2 days
  • San Francisco to Paris – 4 days
  • New York JFK to Paris – 6 days
  • Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth or Boston to Paris – 5 days
  • Charlotte to Paris – 7 days

Customs Clearance in the US and France

Customs clearance is a must when you export from the US to France. To minimize any risk of delays, most businesses engage the services of an experienced freight forwarder. That is how you can guarantee that all formalities will be completed as per existing laws and regulations. However, hiring a freight forwarder does not absolve you of all responsibility. You still need to provide the documents required for export and import customs clearance. The customs authorities will almost certainly want sight of the following documentation:

  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)

Licenses, permits, or certificates are further documents that you might have to provide. If this is the case, your freight forwarder will notify you straight away. If you would like to learn more about the documents required for ocean and air shipping from the US to France, and review some examples, check out our handy documents list.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Sea freight is how the majority of cargo is transported across the Atlantic Ocean. Specialized cargo vessels will carry your consignment in a shipping container from the US to France. If your cargo is not suited for a container due to its size or shape, your forwarder or carrier can help you ship using other options, such as a break-bulk service. There are two alternatives for containerized ocean shipping: LCL and FCL. Both options are available as port-to-port or door-to-door services. The weight, volume, and nature of your goods will dictate the best solutions for your logistics needs.

#### Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping Advantages:

  • LCL is typically the least expensive option for cargo of six standard pallets ( 14 CBM) or less.
  • LCL can speed up your supply chain, since you don’t need to wait to fill an entire container.
  • You can simply drop off/collect your cargo at the warehouses where containers are loaded/unloaded.


  • LCL is not ideal for fragile, delicate, and perishable products due to the extra handling involved.
  • The necessary consolidation and deconsolidation of the container results in slightly longer transit times than FCL.

#### Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping Advantages:

  • It’s the fastest mode of ocean shipping, because no consolidation/de-consolidation is required.
  • Your freight will be isolated in its container throughout transportation from the US to France.
  • FCL is usually less expensive than LCL if you transport more than 14 CBM (half the load capacity of a 20ft container).


  • You will always pay a flat fee for the entire container, even if you can only part fill it.
  • FCL could restrict your options for loading or delivery, as not all businesses can receive a full container.

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

Air Freight


  • Air freight has the shortest transit times, making it ideal for perishable goods.
  • Airports provide the lowest risk and highest level of security.
  • Air shipping can be less expensive than LCL if you are transporting only a few pallets.
  • Buyers and suppliers located close to an international airport might prefer it to ocean freight.
  • It is more reliable and less weather-dependent, providing you with more certainty about the delivery date of your cargo.


  • Air freight is costly for large quantities of cargo.
  • It is not an option for extremely bulky or awkwardly shaped goods.

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

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US

#### Los Angeles Port Facts:

  • The United States’ number one container port.
  • Located about 40 km south of downtown Los Angeles in San Pedro Bay.
  • Covers over 70 km coastline in California.
  • Operates eight container terminals and over 80 cranes.

Owned By: City of Los Angeles.

Annual Container Volume: >9 million TEUs.


#### Long Beach Port Facts:

  • Located in California, right next to the Port of Los Angeles.
  • Second-busiest port in the US for containers.
  • Covers more than 40 km of waterfront with 10 piers and 62 berths.
  • 140 shipping lines provide connections to 217 ports worldwide.

***Owned By: City of Long Beach.

Annual Container Volume: >8 million TEUs.


#### Savannah Port Facts:

  • Located in Georgia on the Savannah River, 30 km from the ocean.
  • Home of the largest container terminal in North America.
  • Used to be the fastest-growing port in the US.
  • Direct access to interstate highways makes it an excellent choice for exporters in the East and Midwest.

Owned By: Georgia Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.


#### Houston Port Facts:

  • Busiest port in the US in terms of foreign tonnage.
  • 40 km complex of private and public facilities.
  • Houston’s port is part artificial and part natural.
  • Facilities include a petrochemical complex.

Owned By: City of Houston.

Annual Container Volume: >1.6 million TEUs.


#### Port Everglades Port Facts:

  • Tenth-busiest container port in the United States, located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Over 20 container shipping lines operate here.
  • Convenient access to the interstate network of Florida.
  • Planned expansion to boost capacity.

Owned By: Broward County, Florida.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.


#### Other Ports in the US Apart from the five ports mentioned above, the following container gateways are suited for shipping cargo to France from the US:

  • New York
  • Seattle
  • San Francisco
  • Oakland
  • New Orleans
  • Boston
  • Baltimore
  • Atlanta
  • Charleston
  • Norfolk
  • Tacoma
  • Miami
  • Mobile

Cargo Ports of Arrival in France

#### Le Havre Port Facts:

  • Second-largest port in the country and France’s first-ever container port.
  • Located under 200 km from Paris on the northern coast.
  • Convenient access to the railroad network offers connections to locations across Europe.
  • Features 6.5 km of docks and three terminals for handling freight.

Owned By: Grande Port Maritime du Havre.

Annual Container Volume: >2.8 million TEUs.


#### Fos Sur-Mer Port Facts:

  • Located 40 km to the northeast of Marseille on the shores of the Golfe de Fos.
  • Best choice for importers in Marseille, Montpelier, Avignon, and other areas of southern France.

Owned By: Marseille Fos Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.25 million TEUs.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in the US

#### Los Angeles Airport Facts:

  • Tenth-busiest cargo airport worldwide.
  • Handled more than two million tons of freight in 2018.
  • Consistently ranks among the top-five airports in the US for passenger and cargo traffic.
  • Located 30 km to the southwest of downtown Los Angeles.

French Airports Served: Paris CDG.

Los Angeles to France Cargo-Only Operators: None.


#### Chicago O’Hare Airport Facts:

  • The United State’s third major cargo airport.
  • Handled more than 1.8 million tonnes of cargo in 2018.
  • Features a 185,000 square meter freight terminal.
  • Provides the capability to Load and unload 15 wide-bodied cargo aircraft simultaneously.

French Airports Served: Paris CDG.

Chicago O’Hare to France Cargo-Only Operators: None.


#### New York JFK Airport Facts:

  • The U.S. airport with the highest inbound cargo volume.
  • Sixth-busiest airport overall in the US.
  • Located 26 km to the southeast of midtown Manhattan in the district of Queens.
  • Covers more than 21 square kilometers and has four runways.

French Airports Served: Paris CDG.

New York JFK to France Cargo-Only Operators: None.


#### Miami Airport Facts:

  • Fifteenth-busiest cargo airport worldwide.
  • Largest international freight volume among all U.S. airports.
  • Airlines operating out of Miami reach over 160 cities on four continents.
  • Offers convenient freighter services to 112 destinations worldwide.

French Airports Served: Paris CDG.

Miami to France Cargo-Only Operators: None.


#### Atlanta Airport Facts:

  • Located about 11 km south of downtown Atlanta.
  • Main international gateway to the southern U.S. states.
  • Features five parallel runways and extensive refrigeration and freezer units.

French Airports Served: Paris CDG.

Atlanta to France Cargo-Only Operators: None.


#### Other Airports in the US In addition to the five airports above, you can also fly your cargo to France from any of the following airports in the US:

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

Airports of Arrival in France

####Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport Facts:

  • Largest international airport in the country.
  • Twelfth-busiest cargo airport globally and second-busiest in Europe (after Frankfurt Airport).
  • Located 23 km northeast of Paris in the district of Roissy-en-France.
  • Stretches over 32 square kilometers.

Connected Airports in the US: Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Denver, New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Philadelphia, Seattle, Houston, Charlotte, Cincinnati, Atlanta.

US to Paris Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.


#### Lyon Airport Facts:

  • Officially known as Lyon-Saint Exupéry Airport.
  • Situated close to the Lyon-Part-Dieu Business District only 20 km outside of Lyon.
  • Main air freight gateway for the third-biggest city in France and for the whole Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Lyon Cargo-Only Operators: None.


#### Marseille Airport Facts:

  • Third-largest air cargo hub in the country.
  • Situated 27 km northwest of Marseille.
  • Great choice for importers in southern France.

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Marseille Cargo-Only Operators: None.


#### Strasbourg Airport Facts:

  • Small airport, located 10 km southwest of Strasbourg.
  • Offers only a single runway and one terminal.

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Strasbourg Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Why Ship From the US to France With Shipa Freight?

If you want your goods to reach France safely and on time, it is wise to partner with a reliable freight forwarder such as Shipa Freight. We can remove all complexities around international logistics and satisfy all of your global shipping needs. No matter which mode of transport you choose, our online-only platform is at the forefront of freight forwarding.

When you choose Shipa Freight, you can manage your entire shipment process conveniently in one place. There’s no need to coordinate multiple agencies anymore. This will surely simplify your supply chain.

The benefits to your business, when shipping with us include:

  • Easy-to-understand quotes: Receive and compare them online instantly.
  • Online booking: Place your order directly online without losing time.
  • Transparent shipping documentation: Always know exactly what to prepare.
  • Customs complexities removed: We will take care of everything for you.
  • One single platform: Manage all of your imports and exports in one place.
  • Friendly customer service: Get help whenever you need it, 24/7.
  • Guaranteed compliance with shipping rules and regulations.

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