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Ocean and Air Shipping from the US to Italy

Information and quote from the US to Italy for LCL, FCL and Air shipping

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Italy is the United States’ 12th most important trade partner in terms of value. Despite a $33 billion trade deficit in 2019, making the US the importer in the partnership, it is nevertheless the seventh-largest origin country for international shipping to Italy.

While the majority of products that enterprises export from the US to Italy relate to medicine, healthcare, and heavy industry, there is enormous scope for diversity.

If you've identified a market for your commodities in Italy, or are already exporting but looking for ways to simplify shipping, you should find some useful information here. This page offers some facts and guidance for importing from the US to Italy using ocean and air freight services, and explains how a freight forwarder can help your business.

How to Ship Ocean Freight From the US to Italy

Flags of the US and Italy representing Shipa Freight's capacity to ship by Ocean & Air from the US to Italy

Despite the time required to import from the US to Italy using an ocean carrier, it’s the most common way to ship goods between the two countries. For many businesses, it’s the only practical method, due to the prohibitive cost of exporting by air on a large scale.

That’s not to say that ocean shipping is inexpensive, but it is the most economical mode of long-distance transportation. It’s also flexible, in as much as options exist to suit high and low-volume shipments. For example, if you ship on a large scale, you can keep the transportation cost-per-unit down by shipping full container loads, using an FCL service.

If you will import from the US to Italy occasionally, or in small quantities, LCL sea freight requires that you pay only for the amount of space you need in a container. That’s why many small-scale importers prefer this type of service. A freight forwarder will help you to get your goods consolidated in a shared shipping container at or near your closest port.

Less than Container Load (LCL) From the US to Italy

FCL and LCL are both methods of shipping containerized freight. Under both types of service, your freight forwarder will arrange to send your goods in a shipping container from the US to Italy.

However, with LCL shipping, you will not have to concern yourself with choosing a container size. In that respect, LCL is more like domestic transportation, because you only need to inform your forwarder of the dimensions, weight, and nature of the commodities for shipment.

The forwarder will arrange to consolidate your freight with that of other shippers, and load it into a container. An ocean carrier will transport the container from the US to Italy, where deconsolidation will take place. After that, the buyer can collect the goods or have them transported by road or rail to a named destination in Italy.

The fee structure for LCL shipping lends itself to shipments of a size insufficient to fill—or nearly fill—a 20-foot container. If you send more than five or six pallets of goods at a time, you may find it more cost-effective to have a container to yourself and use FCL shipping.
Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) From the US to Italy

Are you able to accumulate export orders to fill shipping containers regularly, or do you need to arrange occasional shipments of substantial quantities of goods? If so, FCL freight may be the most viable option for your business.

Indeed, for anything more than six pallets of cargo, FCL pricing begins to come into its own. That’s because even though you might not fill the container, the flat rate fee structure can result in a lower cost than LCL. You also benefit from the fact that the container will be provided for the use of your goods alone.

Of course, if you do wish to use an FCL service to ship your freight from the US to Italy, you’ll need to decide on the right size and type of shipping container. For six pallets up to ten pallets (or 11 if they are Euro pallets), a 20-foot dry container should suit you admirably, unless your goods need temperature control. For perishables, though, you might need to specify a refrigerated container.

40-foot containers can accommodate up to 20 pallets, so you will probably need to be shipping more than 12 if you want to get the most value from the larger size.
Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US

Some of the most frequently used ports for shipping ocean freight from the US to Italy are as follows:

Port Everglades

Port Facts

  • Located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
  • The busiest of Florida’s container ports
  • 10th-busiest container port in the United States, and the 11th-- busiest cargo port
  • The US’ deepest port south of Norfolk, Virginia
  • Served by more than 20 container shipping lines
  • Has excellent transportation links, with direct access to Florida’s interstate network
  • Currently undergoing expansion to increase capacity Owned By: Broward County, Florida. Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USPEF.


Port Facts

  • Located inside the mouth of the Elizabeth River
  • Seventh-busiest container port in the United States
  • Can handle container vessels of up to 14,000 TEU capacity
  • The deepest port on the US East Coast
  • Around 30 shipping lines operate cargo services between Norfolk Port and 200+ countries
  • Houses the sixth-largest containerized cargo Facility in the US Owned By: Virginia Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >1.3 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USORF.


Port Facts

  • One of the US’ principle east-coast ports
  • Capable of handling Panamax and post-Panamax container vessels
  • Container facility received a $20 million improvement grant from U.S. government
  • Boston is ranked 20th on the list of busiest U.S. container ports Owned By: Government of Massachusetts. Annual Container Volume: >160,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USBOS.

Los Angeles

Port Facts:

  • The number-one container port in the United States
  • The port is spread over 70 kilometers of California’s coastline
  • Houses eight container terminals operating more than 80 cranes
  • 17th-busiest container port in the world
  • Boasts eight container terminals Owned By: City of Los Angeles. Annual Container Volume: >9 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USLAX.


Port Facts

  • Alabama’s only deep-water port
  • Covers an area of 1,700 hectares
  • Facilities include an 8.5-hectare container yard
  • The 19th-busiest port in the United States Owned By: Alabama State Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >170,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USMOB.

Other Departure Ports in the United States Other ports from which you can send your goods for export from the US to Italy include:

  • San Francisco
  • Jacksonville
  • New York
  • Tacoma
  • New Orleans
  • Oakland
  • Baltimore
  • Seattle
  • Charleston
  • Miami
  • Atlanta
  • Savannah
  • Long Beach
  • Philadelphia
  • Houston

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Italy Italy, with its extensive coastline, has more than 15 substantially sized commercial ports. However, the following five are especially popular with enterprises importing from the US to Italy:

La Spezia

Port Facts

  • La Spezia was established as a shipping port in the late 1800s
  • The port is one of the most important in the Mediterranean
  • Italy’s leading container port
  • Boasts more than five kilometers of quayside
  • Has excellent rail connections Owned By: Port of La Spezia Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >1.4 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITSPE.


Port Facts

  • Italy’s busiest port, measured by freight tonnage
  • Among the top three ports in the Mediterranean
  • Offers some of Europe’s most modern logistics and forwarding services
  • The second-largest port in Italy, after Trieste
  • Italy’s second busiest port for container traffic
  • Ranked 68th in the world for container throughput Owned By: Genoa Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >2 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITGOA.


Port Facts

  • This port covers an area of 1.4 million square meters
  • Situated midway down the Adriatic Coast of Italy
  • The port’s container terminal covers a 5,000 square-meter area
  • Facilities include secure storage for dangerous goods and container repair/cleaning services Owned By: Central Adriatic Ports Authority. Annual Container Volume: >150,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITAOI.


Port Facts

  • Located on the southern coast of Italy
  • Facilities include 38 berths
  • The port has over 11 kilometers of docks
  • One of Italy’s most significant and busiest container ports Owned By: Port Authority of Naples. Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITNAP.


Port Facts

  • Located in the northeast of Italy
  • The eighth-busiest commercial port in Italy
  • Excellent connections to all of Italy via the rail-freight network Owned By: Port Authority of Venice. Annual Container Volume: >1.4 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: ITVCE.

Air Freight From the US to Italy Air shipping offers one primary advantage over ocean freight, and that’s speed. If your goods are suitable for sending from the US to Italy as air freight, you can ship in days what it would take several weeks to transport by ship.

Typically, shipping freight from airport to airport is similar to LCL ocean shipping, at least in as much as your consignment will be consolidated with other shippers’ goods. Instead of consolidating to fill a container though, your forwarder will consolidate to fill an aircraft hold, or the portion of the cargo space it reserved for customers’ shipments.

That’s why you’ll find air freight transit times stated in days, rather than the hours that it takes to fly cargo from one country to another. Air-cargo transit times take into account the time required for consolidation, and that needed for export and import customs clearance.
Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Air Freighting with Forwarders

Air freight is costly, but if there will be times when you will use it, you will do well to find a forwarder that deals with air and ocean shipping. That will make it easier to switch between the two modes of transportation as necessary.

Many forwarders specialize in one mode or the other, and those that can handle both are a little thinner on the ground. If you can find one, though, you’ll be able to increase the flexibility of your supply chain. For example, you can use ocean freight for large, scheduled shipments, and air shipping when you just want to get a few pallets from the US to Italy in a hurry. Of course, if you plan to fly all your shipments, you might prefer to find a forwarder specializing only in air freight.

Airports of Origin in the US

Los Angeles

Airport Facts:

  • The world’s tenth-busiest airport for cargo
  • Handled more than two million tonnes of freight in 2018
  • Cargo facilities cover an area of two million square feet
  • Offers direct cargo flights to Italy

Italy Airports Served: Milan. Los Angeles to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: Cargolux. IATA Code: LAX.

Chicago O’Hare

Airport Facts:

  • Cargo apron has capacity for 15 wide-bodied aircraft to be serviced simultaneously
  • The airport of origin for direct flights to more than 200 destinations around the world
  • Parking for 40 wide-body cargo aircraft in the airport’s two air freight facilities
  • The third-busiest cargo airport in the United States
  • Offers direct cargo flights to Italy Italy Airports Served: Milan. Chicago to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: Cargolux, Qatar Airways Cargo. IATA Code: ORD.


Airport Facts:

  • Handles more than 2.3 million tonnes of freight annually
  • The world’s 15th-busiest cargo airport
  • Served by more than 1,000 flights per day
  • More than 90 carriers operate flights carrying cargo to and from Miami Airport
  • One of the largest cargo airports in the US
  • Offers direct flights to Italy, with cargo carried on passenger airliners Italy Airports Served: Milan, Rome. Miami to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: MIA.

New York JFK

Airport Facts:

  • 21st-busiest airport in the world
  • Sixth-busiest airport in the US
  • Busiest freight airport in the United States
  • Third-busiest freight gateway in the US after Los Angeles and New York Seaports
  • Located in the Queens district of New York
  • Served by around 100 carriers, most of which carry commercial freight
  • Offers direct cargo flights to Milan Italy Airports Served: Milan, Rome. New York to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: Emirates SkyCargo. IATA Code: JFK.


Airport Facts

  • Fifth-busiest airport in the US by aircraft movements
  • Sixth-busiest airport in the world by aircraft movements
  • Has a cargo terminal located beside one of the four runways
  • No direct flights from Charlotte to Italy Italy Airports Served: None. Charlotte to Italy Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: CLT.

Other Airports in the US

Aside from the U.S. airports mentioned above, direct flights to Italy operate from airports in several states, including some listed below. Indirect routing of your freight is possible from any of these gateways:

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

Airports of Arrival in Italy


  • Located approximately 50 kilometers north of Milan
  • Situated beside the Ticino River
  • Has two runways and extensive cargo facilities
  • Italy’s largest cargo airport
  • Has been operating since 1909
  • Serviced by direct passenger and cargo flights from several airports in the US Connected Airports in the US: New York, Newark, Chicago, Los Angeles. US to Milan Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo, Emirates SkyCargo, Qatar Airways Cargo, Cargolux. IATA CODE: MXP.


  • The eighth-busiest airport in Europe
  • Headquarters of Italy’s national flag carrier, Alitalia
  • The airport’s freight terminal is known as Cargo City
  • Served by direct flights from New York and Miami airports Connected Airports in the US: New York, Miami. US to Rome Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: FCO.

Clearing Customs in the US and Italy

Stamp to export, representing Shipa Freight's capacity to help with Custom Clearance. International freight shipping would be a lot more straightforward without the complications of export and import customs clearance. Regrettably, though, customs formalities are a necessity if you wish to export from the US to Italy.

With the help of a competent freight forwarder you can feel assured that the chances of any customs delays will be minimized. Your forwarder will know what's required for your cargo to transit uninterrupted between the supplier dispatch-point and arrival at its final destination.

However, working with a forwarder does not mean you can abdicate all responsibilities. At the very least, you will need to provide specific documents, or give your forwarder the necessary information to complete documentation on your behalf.

Know Your Shipping and Customs Documents

The list of documents that follows includes those that will be required by the Customs and Border Protection service in the United States, for export clearance. They will also be needed by the Italian Customs Authority, to ensure your goods comply with EU import regulations, and to calculate duty and taxes payable:

  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)

You’ll find more details about each of the above customs and shipping documents, along with some visual examples, on our Document List page. Please note that in some cases, you must provide other documents, licenses, permits, or certificates, for example, as well as those listed above.

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

For extra fast shipping from the US to Italy, you’ll need to send your commodities as air freight. It’s the only way to ensure delivery within days rather than weeks. You will be able to get shipments from most US cities to either Milan or Rome in a week or perhaps slightly longer.

If you have a large shipment to send, or the high rates for air freight exceed your logistics budget, you’ll need to settle for the more sedate pace of FCL or LCL ocean shipping. Where air freight might take five days, you’ll be looking at five weeks, or perhaps longer, for your goods to transit from the US to Italy by sea.

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

Ocean freight transit times between the United States and Italy can vary considerably. For one thing, they will depend on whether you ship from the U.S. east or west coasts, and whether the destination port is on the east or west coast of Italy.

For example, for ocean shipping from Seattle to the Italian ports of La Spezia or Genoa, you should allow for your goods to be in transit for up to six weeks.

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

Here are some typical transit times for air freight from the United States to Milan airport in Italy:

  • From New York – 5 days
  • From Detroit – 5 days
  • From Dallas/Fort Worth – 5 days

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

If you’re looking for an accurate calculation of prices for sending ocean or air freight from the United States to Italy, you’ll need to seek some quotes from carriers or freight forwarders. That’s because there are so many variables involved, and a price for shipping this week might be considerably more or less than for shipping next month.

In general, though, it’s fair to say that unless you are shipping goods weighing a total of 100 kilograms or less, ocean freight will cost a lot less than air cargo. For shipments in the sub-100-kilogram range, air and ocean freight costs may not differ too much.

Note that many freight forwarders, including Shipa Freight, will not ship consignments weighing less than 35 kilograms. For shipments that small, an international courier service will be more appropriate. It will also prove more affordable than commercial freight forwarding.

Why Ship From the US to Italy With Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight is a forwarder with a big difference. Aside from the fact that we’re equally at home handling ocean or air freight shipping for our commercial customers, we’re also a digital-first, online-only enterprise.

Unlike the traditional freight-forwarding model, we make all our services accessible via our online platform. Our technology simplifies and speeds up interaction between your business and our expert team. You really can request a quote right now, receive it in moments, and have your freight booked onto a container ship or cargo aircraft within hours.

Other benefits of shipping with us include the ability to:

  • Compare ocean and air-freight quotes - choose the transportation mode that meets your needs and budget.
  • Get your quote, book your freight, pay for it and track it, all on one platform.
  • Get human help when you need it from our customer service team – we’re available 24/7.
  • Place your freight in the hands of a globally renowned logistics company – Agility Logistics.
  • Entrust customs clearance to a team of experts who know the landscape and how to navigate it.
  • Ensure compliance with customs laws and shipping regulations, aided by our industry-leading compliance software.

Want to see just how fast, competitive, and understandable our air and ocean freight quotes are? Fill in the form at the top of this page, and we’ll show you. Welcome to a different world of freight forwarding!

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

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