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Ocean and Air Shipping From the US to India

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India is the US’ ninth-largest trade partner. Exports from the United States to India totaled $33.5 billion in 2018. But tariffs imposed by India are higher than those charged by the other leading economies. Yet that hasn’t caused any reduction in the number of companies in the US shipping commercial goods to the subcontinent. And India’s demand for US-made products such as electrical machinery and optical and medical instruments shows no signs of waning.

Whether your business is a buyer or a supplier looking to make the most of the trading opportunities between the two nations, use a freight forwarder. That can significantly increase the ease with which you can import and export from the US to India. The best freight forwarders will:

  • Help organize the shipping of goods from door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door or door-to-port
  • Provide information and assistance concerning customs clearance requirements
  • Give advice and assistance on whether to ship with an air or ocean carrier
  • Let shippers track every stage of their consignment with real-time GPS alerts and updates

Shipping Ocean Freight From the US to India

Female warehouse worker, smiling in aisle while using pick by voice software to assemble a shipment from the US to India

A ship embarking for India from a west-coast port such as Los Angeles, Seattle, and San Francisco will use a trans-Pacific shipping lane. Ships launching from ports on the Southern and Eastern seaboard of the United States including Miami, New York, and Savannah will cross the Atlantic.

Either way, it’s a long journey that can take between 30 and 56 days using LCL or FCL sea freight services. It means ocean shipping is not always suitable for goods that are:

  • Fragile
  • Perishable - such as food, plants, and flowers
  • Urgently required in India

To get a freight forwarder to arrange an export or import from the US to India, you will need to inform them of:

  • Your desired port of origin in the US
  • Your port of arrival in India
  • The type of goods you are shipping—this will influence the kind of container your goods need
  • Whether you want FCL or LCL shipping
  • Your choice of a port to door, door to door, door to port or port to port delivery

Freight forwarders will ask for the weight, dimensions, and volume of your goods to determine how many containers you need and whether they should be 20ft or 40ft long.

Sending a Less-than-Container-Load (LCL) From the US to India

LCL is a method of shipping used by many businesses with smaller consignments to import or export from the US to India. With LCL, goods from multiple businesses share the same container. Customs checks and consolidation occur in port in the United States and when ready, the container is lifted aboard a cargo vessel bound for India. Upon arrival in India, de-consolidation and more customs checks occur before discharge.

When booking an LCL shipment, always ensure:

  • Your freight forwarder offers LCL shipping services at your chosen ports
  • The forwarder offers the type of LCL shipping service you need
  • Your goods are suitable for consolidation with other products
  • You understand the customs clearance documentation that must be sent with your container from the US to India
    Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) From the US to India

Despite its name, FCL shipping does not require you to fill a container. The term is used to differentiate FCL from LCL shipping. With LCL, your goods share a container. With FCL, your goods get exclusive use of a container. How many goods you pack into your container is up to you, although it makes commercial sense to load as many products as you can.

The key differences of using FCL instead of LCL for shipping ocean freight from the US to India include:

  • No extra time required for consolidation and deconsolidation
  • Less handling of your goods during shipping
  • You can seal your container before transit to your port of origin
  • FCL usually ships faster than LCL
    Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US


Situated in Boston Harbor, this is a key port on the Eastern seaboard of the United States. A truck-only haul road and three Interstate highways make getting goods from suppliers and manufacturers into port easier. The Conley Terminal is the container-handling facility. It processed close to 300,000 TEUs in 2019.

Owned By: Government of Massachusetts.

Annual Container Volume: >298,000 TEUs.


Port Everglades

Port Everglades is one of Southern Florida’s key economic hubs with over 230,000 jobs relying on the port. It’s a major cruise ship facility too and Florida’s busiest container port—the tenth-busiest in the US. The port was the first in the country to join the Green Marine program demonstrating how committed the facility’s owners are to reducing the negative environmental impact of its operations.

Owned By: Broward County.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.



As the only deepwater port in Alabama, Mobile is the focal point for businesses in the state seeking to import or export from the US to India. Plans announced in 2019 will see container capacity expand through the redevelopment of a 12-hectare site at the port. This follows the construction of two giant cranes on the quayside in 2017.

Owned By: Alabama State Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >285,000 TEUs.



The Packer Avenue Marine Terminal at the Port of Philadelphia handles containerized goods. If your manufacturer or supply chain requires the transit of goods from Philadelphia, Wilmington, Trenton, or elsewhere in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or New York State, this is a good choice as a port of origin.

Owned By: State of Pennsylvania.

Annual Container Volume: 600,000 TEUs.



This was the US’s fastest-growing port between 2000 and 2005. The Garden City container terminal is the largest on the United States’ Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Storage space spans 120,000 square meters and 15 high-speed cranes do the heavy lifting of containers onto cargo vessels.

Owned By: Georgia Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4.3 million TEUs.


Other Destination Ports in the United States

Additionally, Shipa Freight can coordinate shipping to India from these other ports in the United States:

  • Atlanta
  • New Orleans
  • San Francisco
  • Tacoma
  • Oakland
  • Norfolk
  • New York
  • Charleston
  • Houston
  • Seattle
  • Dallas
  • Baltimore
  • Miami
  • Long Beach
  • Los Angeles

Cargo Ports of Arrival in India

Nhava Sheva

Once merely a relief port for nearby Mumbai, Nhava Sheva now handles over 50% of India’s containerized freight. Many shippers use the port as an alternative to Mumbai for transporting goods from the United States to areas inland. Places that are easy to reach by road and railroad from here include Nashik, Pune, and other destinations in Maharashtra.

Owned By: Government of India.

Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.



This port is located on the northern shores of a peninsula near Vasco da Gama in Western India. If your goods from the United States are destined for Margao, Dandeli, or cities in Karnataka, strong rail and road links from the port will help speed-up distribution.

Owned By: Mormugao Port Trust.

Annual Container Volume: >20,000 TEUs.



For shippers seeking an alternative port of arrival to the congested port of Chennai to the south—welcome to Kattupalli. It’s a modern privately-owned port that’s well-connected to India’s national highways. The port handles the world’s largest cargo vessels. Congestion-free roads out of the port aid the swift distribution of goods from the US.

Owned By: Adani Group.

Annual Container Volume: >493,000 TEUs.



The Port of Pipavav lies on the South Coast of Gujarat, close to Surat and Rajkot in Northwestern India. Facilities include eight cranes and two berths for container carriers. This is India’s first privately-owned port and one of the nation’s newest, having opened in 2002.

Owned By: A.P. Moller Maersk Group.

Annual Container Volume: >880,000 TEUs.



This port in Tamil Nadu is India’s second-largest for containerized goods and the premier port on India’s eastern coast. Freight forwarders will usually use Pacific trade lanes to ship goods from the Western United States and Atlantic routes from ports in the south and east of the US. Last year, Chennai broke its container-handling record, processing 15.7 million TEUs during the year to March 2019.

Owned By: Chennai Port Trust, Ministry of Shipping.

Annual Container Volume: >15.7 million TEUs.


Other Destination Ports in India

  • Haldia
  • Mundra
  • Cochin
  • Krishnapatnam
  • Hazira
  • Kolkata
  • Visakhapatnam
  • Tuticorin

Air Freight From the US to India

Air shipping from the US to India is the quickest way to transport goods between the two countries. While ocean shipping takes over four weeks, freight forwarders can arrange and coordinate the shipment of air freight from the US to India in just eight days—a significant time-saving.

You perhaps won’t be surprised to learn that sending air freight is usually more expensive than ocean shipping, though. However, there are many reasons why your business might need to use air shipping other than for its speed:

  • If you have fragile, temperature-sensitive and perishable goods that won’t survive several weeks in transit
  • If you have smaller consignments that will fit on a maximum of three pallets
  • If you have high-value cargo that will benefit from stricter airport and airline security procedures
    Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Airports of Origin in the US

San Diego

Formerly known as Lindbergh Field, this air facility is under 5km from downtown San Diego. It’s the busiest single-runway airport in the United States. If your goods destined for India originate in Southwestern US, this international airport, located close to the border with Mexico, is the ideal port of origin.

India Airports Served: None.

San Diego to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.


New York JFK

Over 20% of all US international air freight—measured by value—passes through New York’s JFK Airport. It’s located in Queens, around 25km southeast of Manhattan. Nearly 100 air cargo carriers have operations at this four-runway air facility.

India Airports Served: Mumbai, Delhi.

New York to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Detroit Metropolitan Airport is a major international air freight facility based in Romulus, Michigan. Operated by the Wayne County Airport Authority, it’s an important cargo hub and Delta Airlines’ main gateway to Asia.

India Airports Served: None.

Detroit to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Also known as Cincinnati/North Kentucky Airport, this aviation center serves the Greater Cincinnati area. The airport is North America’s fifth-busiest for cargo tonnage. It’s DHL’s largest global hub, and in 2017 online retail giants Amazon announced plans to create a worldwide shipping hub at the airport.

India Airports Served: None.

Cincinnati to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Miami International is located 13km northwest of downtown Miami. It’s the world’s largest aviation gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, linking those locations to Asian markets. Perishables, high-tech commodities, and telecommunications equipment are the goods most often processed here. The airport has a dedicated pharma hub with imports and exports totaling $5.6 billion in 2018.

India Airports Served: None.

Miami to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Arrival Airports in the United States

Shipa Freight can ship your goods as air freight from the US to India from these other airports:

  • Los Angeles
  • Philadelphia
  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Boston
  • Atlanta
  • Houston
  • Seattle
  • Cleveland
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago
  • San Francisco
  • Denver
  • Sacramento
  • El Paso

Airports of Arrival in India


Exporting or importing from the US to India is faster by air freight. Cargo can be flown direct to Mumbai aboard passenger services from New York’s JFK Airport. Mumbai is a good choice as a port of arrival because cargo teams handle close to one million tonnes of air freight every year. The airport’s aprons can accommodate five wide-body aircraft simultaneously.

Connected Airports in the US: New York JFK.

US to Mumbai Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Direct passenger flights from JFK Airport in New York give shippers a quick way to import or export from the US to India. Delhi is India’s busiest freight hub, offering onward connections to areas in Northern and Central India. That includes the large consumer centers in Jaipur and Agra.

Connected Airports in the US: New York-JFK.

US to Delhi Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Bangalore is in Southern India, west of Chennai and north of Coimbatore. Three cargo terminals and two runways welcome passenger and cargo flights, with freight from the United States arriving via indirect services.

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Bangalore Cargo-Only Operators: None.



This international airport serves the city of Kochi in the state of Kerala. It’s the world’s first fully solar-powered airport, a fact that won recognition from the United Nations with a ‘Champion of the Earth’ award in 2018. Its one air cargo terminal covers a 20-hectare site, and there’s a large dedicated cold storage center for perishables.

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Cochin Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Chennai is located on the west coast of India. It’s a city with a seaport and an airport, the latter offering the quickest way to receive goods from the United States. Due to the distance of around 13,400 km between Chennai and the Eastern US and 14,400km between the airport and the Western States, there are no direct flights. Freight forwarders will therefore use indirect services to transport air cargo to Chennai from the US.

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Chennai Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Arrival Airports in India

Shipa Freight can coordinate air cargo shipments from the United States to another four airports in India, namely; Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Coimbatore.

Customs Clearance Procedures in the US and India

International shipping of commercial goods requires the completion of specific documents to clear customs. Officials will carry out checks in the port of origin and port of arrival. The documents you’ll need for your consignment from the US to India are:

  • Bill of Lading / Airway Bill (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)
  • Letter of credit or other payment terms
  • Certificate of origin
  • Packing list
  • Commercial invoice

More information about—and samples of—each of these documents is available on this page.

How Long Does It Take To Ship Freight From the US to India?

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

Consignments can be flown from the US to India in eight days. Ocean shipping takes considerably longer. You should allow 30 to 56 days for international sea freight carriers to deliver your goods.

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

The examples below demonstrate how much difference there is in shipping durations, depending on the ports chosen and whether you opt for FCL or LCL shipping:

  • San Francisco to Chennai—33 days FCL, 38 days LCL
  • Los Angeles to Nhava Sheva—38 days FCL, 54 days LCL
  • New York to Nhava Sheva—42 days FCL, 48 days LCL
  • San Francisco to Bangalore—44 days LCL
  • New York to Chennai—48 days FCL, 44 days LCL
  • Long Beach to Nhava Sheva—47 days FCL
  • Atlanta to Nhava Sheva—56 days FCL, 30 days LCL
  • Philadelphia to Bangalore—56 days LCL
  • Chicago to Bangalore—56 days LCL

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

Most air shipping between the US and India takes eight days, as highlighted by the following list:

  • Los Angeles to Mumbai—8 days
  • Miami to Mumbai—8 days
  • San Francisco to Chennai —8 days
  • New York to Mumbai—8 days
  • San Francisco to Bangalore—8 days
  • Los Angeles to Chennai—8 days
  • New York to Chennai—8 days
  • Philadelphia to Bangalore—8 days
  • Chicago to Bangalore—8 days

How Much Does It Cost to Ship Cargo From the US to India?

  • The cost of shipping freight from the US to India depends on several variables:
  • The chosen port of origin in the US
  • The preferred port of arrival in India
  • The choice of air or ocean shipping
  • Whether FCL or LCL shipping is required for ocean freight
  • The type of goods to be shipped
  • The volume, dimensions, and weight of those goods
  • Whether a door-to-port, port-to-door, door-to-door, or port-to-port delivery is needed

You should think about using air shipping if your goods:

  • Are urgently required in India
  • Weigh less than 100kg
  • Can be shipped on a maximum of three standard pallets

Usually, it’s more cost-effective to send goods weighing above 100kg as ocean cargo. Please note that Shipa Freight does not quote for consignments weighing less than 35kg.

Why Choose Shipa Freight For Shipping Cargo From the US to India?

Shipa Freight is a digitized freight forwarding platform that’s dedicated to making international shipping easier for all kinds of businesses. If you’re frustrated by the complexities of exporting or importing from the US to India, choose Shipa Freight for.

  • Quick and easy sign-up and quotes
  • Online bookings and payments
  • Shipment tracking via GPS
  • Port to port, door to port, door to door or port to door deliveries
  • Expert customs clearance advice and assistance
  • 24/7 customer service from the international shipping experts at our parent company Agility Logistics

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

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