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Ocean and Air Shipping From the US to Brazil

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Updated on 28 Nov 202119 min read

The dynamics of shipping freight from the US to Brazil are unusual, especially in the case of ocean routes. For example, distances between Southeastern US ports such as Miami, and ocean freight gateways in the northern half of Brazil are relatively short. It’s a different story for shippers importing from the US to Brazil via west coast ports like Long Beach, as the routes involve far higher nautical mileage and transit time.

With air freight, the distance variation presents less of an issue, due to direct routing. For businesses that can stand the higher costs of export by air, it’s a fast and efficient way to ship between North and South America.

Keen to know more about flying your freight or sending it by ocean carrier in a shipping container from the US to Brazil? If so, this page should help to satisfy your need for knowledge. You’ll find some essential guidance for ocean and air shipping, information about customs clearance documentation, and details about ports, airports, and transit times for trade lanes linking the two countries.

Know Your Options for Shipping Freight From the US to Brazil

Freight forwarding professional leaning on a stack of cartons, adjacent to flags of India and Mexico

Basically, you have two options for importing from the US to Brazil: ocean freight and air freight. You’ll learn more about both of them in the subsequent sections of this page.

Ocean Freight From the US to Brazil

Less than Container Load (LCL): Instead of spending your money on transporting a full shipping container from the US to Brazil, LCL allows you to save costs by shipping your cargo in a shared unit. For smaller consignments especially, this is often the most cost-efficient way to move freight from the US to Brazil.

Full Container Load (FCL): If you’re shipping freight in larger quantities, it may make sense to use an FCL service. That’s when you pay for the use and shipping of a container exclusively for your goods. The flat rate per container can make FCL more affordable than LCL.

Air Freight From the US to Brazil

When you need to export from the US to Brazil in a hurry, air freight is the fastest choice. However, it’s also more expensive than ocean freight in most cases.

How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From the US to Brazil

Guide prices for ocean and air-freight shipping from the US to Brazil are not easy to attain, as rates fluctuate considerably, and there are so many variables in play. That will be apparent if you have ever sought quotes from several carriers and forwarders to compare. Doubtless, you will have noticed some remarkable variances in price.

In order of expense, though, you will typically find that for small shipments, LCL ocean shipping is the most economical method. However, air freight may not be much more expensive. FCL shipping will probably be the most costly way to transport low-volume shipments.

For larger shipments of say, seven pallets or more of freight, FCL becomes more affordable. At the same time, LCL shipping might cost a little more, and air freight will be considerably pricier.

If you plan to ship a consignment with a weight of 35 kilograms or less, it will make sense to use an international courier service rather than a freight forwarder. For example, here at Shipa Freight, our services are only available for loads of 35 kilograms and up.

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

Mechanical chronometer to represent the transit time of shipments with Shipa Freight

It will take from several days to a few weeks to ship your freight from the US to Brazil, depending on the mode of transportation you choose. Air freight is your fastest option since transit times can almost always be counted in hours rather than days. However, air-freight shipments require a few days with the inclusion of customs processes and cargo processing.

LCL and FCL ocean freight take a lot longer to ship between the United States and Brazil, so it will not be ideal for urgent or unplanned shipments. Sea freight transit times are typically between three and six weeks, depending on the port-to-port route used.

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

To help you gauge transit times for ocean shipping from the United States to Brazil, here are a few examples of routes and shipping durations from the Shipa Freight schedule database:

  • Los Angeles to Santos – 29 days FCL
  • Miami to Rio de Janeiro – 29 days LCL
  • San Francisco to Santos – 33 days LCL
  • Miami to Santos – 33 days FCL
  • Chicago to Santos – 36 days FCL
  • New York to Rio de Janeiro – 40 days LCL
  • San Francisco to Rio de Janeiro – 42 days LCL
  • Miami to Paranagua - 28 days LCL
  • New York to Santos - 24 days FCL

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

Here are some approximate transit times for air freight from the United States to Brazil, based on Shipa Freight’s air-cargo service schedules:

  • New York to Rio de Janeiro – 4 days
  • Dallas/Fort Worth to Viracopos – 3 days
  • Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro – 5 days
  • Boston, Miami, or Los Angeles to Sao Paulo – 5 days
  • Miami to Salvador – 5 days
  • Miami or Los Angeles to Rio de Janeiro – 5 days
  • San Francisco to Sao Paulo – 6 days
  • Dallas/Fort Worth or New York to Curitiba – 7 days
  • New York to Sao Paulo – 7 days
  • New York or Miami to Viracopos - 5 days
  • Miami to Porto Alegre – 7 days
  • Chicago to Sao Paulo – 6 days
  • San Francisco to Salvador – 7 days
  • Houston to Sao Paulo – 8 days

Customs Clearance in the US and Brazil

If ever there was a good reason to engage a freight forwarder when importing from the US to Brazil, it is the complexity of customs procedures and paperwork. For many businesses, especially SMEs, customs formalities are the bane of global shipping.

A competent freight forwarder will have its own customs experts to help clear your goods and avoid delays or will work with a customs broker on your behalf. Either way, you benefit from not having to manage customs processes, and from the reduced risk of mistakes and resulting holdups at international borders.

Even with help from a forwarder, though, somebody in your business will need to be aware of the various documents required to satisfy shipping and customs requirements. Some of the forms will need to be completed and filed by the exporter or importer of the goods. You should also be prepared to give your forwarder all the information necessary to complete documents on your behalf.

The following list highlights the essential documents for export customs clearance in the US and import clearance in Brazil. The list is not exhaustive, but covers the five documents that will be necessary for every international shipment:

  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 (provided by a carrier or freight forwarder)

You’ll find further information relating to each of the above customs and shipping documents, along with examples, in our helpful documents list.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

If you want to export from the US to Brazil, several possibilities exist to transport your commercial goods as sea freight. By far, the most common way for suitable commodities is to use containerized freight services. You can choose between the following two forms of container shipping:

  • LCL ocean shipping: Involves the transportation of your cargo in a container shared with other shippers’ consignments.
  • FCL ocean shipping: This is when you pay to ship a full container from the US to Brazil, occupied by your goods alone.

There are a handful of key differences between FCL and LCL freight, which you will find described below. You will also come across variants of both services relating to the origin and destination of your cargo. For example, you can choose from the following service types:

  • Port to port: This service covers the ocean shipping only.
  • Door to port: This service includes domestic transportation in the country of origin, as well as ocean shipping.
  • Port to door: This service covers ocean shipping plus domestic transportation in the country of import.
  • Door to door: This service includes all transportation from the premises of the goods’ supplier/exporter to the premises of the recipient/importer.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

LCL shipping is the ideal option if you import from the US to Brazil on a small scale and rarely ship enough cargo to fill a 20-foot or 40-foot container. When you use an LCL service, you don’t have to think about the shipping container at all. Your freight forwarder will just want to know about the quantity of goods you are shipping, their nature, dimensions, weight, origin, and destination.

Your goods will need transporting from the supplier to a consolidation warehouse, where they will be combined with other shippers’ consignments to make up a full container load. The consolidator will load them into the container, and it will be placed onto the deck of a vessel bound for Brazil.

At the other end of the ocean voyage, your forwarder will have your goods unloaded and isolated for onward transportation to their destination, or collection from the deconsolidation warehouse.

The pros and cons of LCL shipping are as follows:


  • You only pay for space your consignment will occupy
  • You don’t have to wait until you have a full container-load of goods to export/import
  • You don’t need to calculate container sizes or coordinate container movements and loading/unloading


  • Your cargo will share space with products belonging to other shippers
  • Your goods will be handled several times during their journey
  • Shipping durations can be longer than for freight shipped under FCL terms
  • Issues with other shippers’ goods might result in customs delays for your shipment
  • The more cargo you transport in a single consignment, the more you will pay
  • Dimensional weight charges mean that large, lightweight goods are more expensive to ship than dense but heavy items

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

When you have enough cargo to fill a container, or at least to use more than half its capacity, an FCL service might be more suitable for your supply chain. Notable features of FCL shipping include:

  • Flat-rate shipping fees – you pay for the container(s), regardless of whether you fill or part-fill it.
  • Minimal handling of your shipment while in transit
  • Your goods are not exposed to possible issues/contamination arising from other shippers' consignments.
  • It can be faster than LCL as there is no freight consolidation involved, and the container is only opened for loading at the point of origin and unloading at the destination.

While FCL shipping is more straightforward in many ways than LCL, you do have to calculate the use of container-capacity and think about the right size and type of container. Of course, a competent freight forwarder will help you with this aspect of FCL freight transportation.

Air Freight

There may be times when you need to move a shipment of freight from the US to Brazil in a hurry. On those occasions, it can be worthwhile to pay the extra costs involved in air shipping. The price might be even on par with ocean freight if you are only sending two or three pallets of goods.

Air freight is also worth considering if you intend to ship a cargo of high monetary value, as airport and airline security protocols are stringent and rigorously applied. For perishable products, air shipping from the US to Brazil can provide you with more time to sell them before they pass best-before or expiry dates.

Air freight shipments between the United States and Brazil involve far less transit time than ocean freight. However, you shouldn’t expect the process to be as fast as when you fly yourself from A to B.

Before your goods can embark on an aircraft, they must clear customs and be consolidated with other shipments into a payload. Similarly, they will spend time in customs clearance on arrival in Brazil. Therefore, although the actual flying time is mere hours, you will need to allow a few days between dispatch from the supplier and release to the recipient.

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US


Port Facts:

  • Miami was the 11th-busiest port in the US in 2019.
  • Florida’s largest container port.
  • Can accommodate neo-Panamax container ships.
  • Known as the Cargo Gateway of the Americas.
  • One of the closest US ports to Brazil, making for shorter transit times.

Owned By: Multiple owners.

Annual Container Volume: >700,000 TEUs.


New York

Port Facts:

  • Facilities include four container terminals.
  • Ranked number 20 on the list of busiest ports in the world.
  • The US’s third-busiest port.
  • The largest port on the east coast of the United States.

Owned By: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Annual Container Volume: >3.2 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • The US’s 19th-busiest port.
  • Occupies a 1,700-hectare area.
  • The only deepwater port in the state of Alabama.
  • Facilities include a container yard of 8.5 hectares.

Owned By: Alabama State Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >170,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • The US’s eighth-busiest port.
  • Facilities include four container terminals.
  • Currently stands as the world’s 41st-busiest container port.
  • Operates ultra-modern and efficient container-handling facilities.
  • Ideal ocean gateway for imports to Brazil from Alaska and the US Northwest.

Owned By: Port of Tacoma Commission.

Annual Container Volume: >3.7 million TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located on the St. Johns River in Jacksonville, Florida.
  • Florida’s third-busiest port.
  • 36th-largest port in the United States.
  • Handles more than 21 million tonnes of freight annually.
  • Recently received the go-ahead for a new international container terminal.

Owned By: Jacksonville Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >1.3 million TEUs.


Other Ports in the United States

If none of the ports mentioned above are within easy reach of your export’s supplier, you can ship your goods to Brazil from any of the following US seaports:

  • San Francisco
  • Port Everglades
  • Boston
  • New Orleans
  • New York
  • Oakland
  • Baltimore
  • Norfolk
  • Charleston
  • Los Angeles
  • Atlanta
  • Savannah
  • Long Beach
  • Philadelphia
  • Houston

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Brazil

Port of Salvador

Port Facts:

  • Has an anchoring area that’s 700 meters wide.
  • Located in the Lower City district of Salvador.
  • Situated in a harbor that’s unaffected by the activity of the tides.
  • Linked to the interior of Brazil by several rail and road connections.

Owned By: Companhia das Docas do Estado da Bahia (CODEBA).

Annual Container Volume: >300,000 TEUs.


Rio de Janeiro

Port Facts:

  • Brazil’s third-busiest port.
  • The ninth-busiest port in Brazil for container throughput.
  • The port is seven kilometers in length.
  • Served by warehouse facilities covering more than 65,000 square meters of land.

Owned By: Companhia Docas do Rio de Janeiro.

Annual Container Volume: >380,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Located in the north of Brazil.
  • Operates a laser-enabled docking system.
  • Can accommodate container ships of up to 170,000 DWT.
  • Serves the states of Pernambuco, Alagoas, and Paraiba.

Owned By: Governor Eraldo Gueiros Industrial Port Complex.

Annual Container Volume: >400,000 TEUs.


Rio Grande do Sul

Port Facts:

  • The second-busiest port in Brazil.
  • Situated near to the mouth of the Rio Grande.
  • Its container terminal is one of the leading freight facilities in Brazil.
  • The port can accommodate the world’s largest container ships.
  • An ideal gateway for imports to Southern Brazil.

Owned By: Superintendencia Porto de Rio Grande.

Annual Container Volume: >760,000 TEUs.



Port Facts:

  • Brazil’s busiest container port.
  • Serves the city of Sao Paulo and surrounding regions.
  • The largest seaport in South America.
  • Operates the country’s most modern cargo-handling facilities.
  • Suffers from congested road and rail links.
  • The 37th-largest container port in the world.

Owned By: Federal Government of Brazil.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.


Other Ports in Brazil

If you wish to import from the US to Brazil via a different port to those described above, you can ask your freight forwarder to find a route to one of the following ocean freight gateways:

  • Belem
  • Itajai
  • Itapoa
  • Pecem
  • Manaus
  • Vitoria
  • Navegantes
  • Itaguai
  • Paranagua
  • Porto Alegre

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in the US

Dallas/Fort Worth

Airport Facts:

  • The world’s fourth-busiest airport.
  • No state in the US (apart from Alaska) is more than four hours by plane from Dallas/Fort Worth.
  • The airport is American Airlines’ primary hub.
  • Served by flights from nearly 200 cities in the United States.
  • Freight throughput is close to 2,000 tonnes daily.
  • Offers direct flights to Brazil.

Brazil Airports Served: São Paulo Guarulhos.

Dallas to Brazil Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Los Angeles

Airport Facts:

  • The world’s tenth-busiest airport for freight.
  • More than two million tonnes of cargo pass through the airport annually.
  • Ideal airport of loading for cargo originating in the US's western states.
  • More than 1,000 flights per day carry goods into or out of LAX.
  • Offers direct flights to Brazil.

Brazil Airports Served: São Paulo.

Los Angeles to Brazil Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Chicago O’Hare

Airport Facts:

  • Situated 23 kilometers from Chicago’s Loop Business District.
  • The cargo apron can accommodate 15 wide-body freighters for simultaneous loading/unloading.
  • Offers direct cargo-only flights to Brazil.

Brazil Airports Served: São Paulo.

Chicago to Brazil Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Located south of Atlanta’s downtown.
  • An ideal departure point for exports from the southern US states.
  • Facilities include ample storage for temperature-controlled freight.
  • The world’s 42nd-busiest cargo airport.
  • The airport has five runways.
  • Offers direct flights to Brazil.

Brazil Airports Served: São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro.

Atlanta to Brazil Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Serves the central and northern states of the US.
  • Rated as 2019’s most improved airport in North America by the Airports council.
  • Constructed on a site of 695 hectares.
  • The airport has three runways.
  • No direct flights from Cleveland to Brazil.

Brazil Airports served: None.

Cleveland to Brazil Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in the US

Apart from the US airports described above, there are plenty more points through which you can import from the US to Brazil using air freight services. They include:

  • New York
  • Denver
  • El Paso
  • Houston
  • Philadelphia
  • Charlotte
  • Seattle
  • Miami
  • Cincinnati
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Sacramento

Airports of Arrival in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Airport Facts:

  • Serves the city of Rio de Janeiro and surrounding regions.
  • The second-busiest airport in Brazil.
  • The largest airport in Brazil.
  • Served by direct passenger and cargo-only flights from the US.

Connected Airports in the US: Atlanta, New York, Houston, Miami.

US to Rio de Janeiro Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Limited cargo capabilities.
  • Useful airport of discharge for freight inbound to Brazil’s southern regions.
  • A small number of logistics companies operate out of this airport.
  • Served by direct cargo-only flights from Florida.

Connected Airports in the US: Miami.

US to Curitiba Cargo-Only Operators: Tampa Cargo.



Airport Facts:

  • Has the longest runway in Northeastern Brazil.
  • Located just 14 kilometers from the city of Recife.
  • One of Brazil’s busiest airports.
  • Ranked seventh in Brazil for cargo capacity.
  • Served by direct flights from the US.

Connected Airports in the US: Miami.

US to Recife Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Porto Alegre

Airport Facts:

  • This airport handles around 30,000 tonnes of freight per year.
  • A convenient airport for importing into Rio Grande Do Sul and Santa Catarina states.
  • Covers an area of 3,805,810 square meters.
  • No direct flights from the US to Porto Alegre.

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Porto Alegre Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts:

  • Situated near to the city of Campinas.
  • Brazil’s second-busiest cargo airport.
  • Has a cargo-handling area of 77,000 square meters.
  • Facilities include ample storage for refrigerated freight.
  • Served by direct passenger and cargo-only flights from the US.

Connected Airports in the US: Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Miami.

US to Viracopos Cargo-Only Operators: Tampa Cargo.


Other Airports in Brazil

Shipa Freight can also arrange for your goods from the US to be flown to these airports in Brazil:

  • Manaus
  • Salvador
  • São Paulo Guarulhos
  • Belo Horizonte

Why Ship From the US to Brazil With Shipa Freight?

Most freight forwarders adhere to traditional procedures and practices, involving manual quotations and bookings and requiring time-consuming exchanges of communication via email, phone, and even faxes.

Shipa Freight is different. You can access all our services for ocean and air shipping from the US to Brazil via one online portal and platform. It allows you to request quotes, execute bookings, pay, and track your freight from origin to destination.

Through the application of industry-leading digital technology and the expertise of a highly skilled team of logistics professionals, we offer the following benefits for your business and its supply chain:

  • Fast, competitive, online ocean and air-freight quotes.
  • The ability to turn quotes into bookings with a few mouse clicks or screen taps.
  • An online portal that lets you manage all of your imports and exports in one place.
  • Access to a customer support team with round-the-clock availability.
  • The help of customs clearance professionals to keep your freight moving across international borders.

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