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Ocean and Air Shipping From the US to Malaysia

Get information and quote for FCL, LCL and Air shipping

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Updated on 16 Sep 202113 min read

Four years after signing a comprehensive partnership agreement, exports from the United States to Malaysia reached $16.5 billion in 2018. The figure makes Malaysia the USA’s 18th-largest trade partner. The products most often exported include machinery, optic and medical instruments, and agricultural products.

Your business could already be importing these or other goods from the USA to Malaysia. Or you could be a start-up seeking to make your first shipment. Either way, this page should be a handy resource for you. It provides essential guidance and important facts covering various aspects of importing from the US to Malaysia.

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

Shipping from the US to Malaysia with Shipa Freight. Flags of the US and of Malaysia

Any trading relationship between enterprises in the US and Malaysia will necessarily involve ocean or air shipping. They are the only two possible ways of transporting freight from the US to Malaysia. This page gives you information about both modes of shipping so you can decide which best meets the needs of your supply chain.

Ocean Freight From the US to Malaysia

Less than Container Load (LCL): Your goods will be consolidated with others and shipped in a container from the US to Malaysia. On arrival, the container will be off-loaded and your goods de-consolidated ready for onward transportation. If you have a smaller consignment to export from the USA to Malaysia, LCL will almost certainly be more cost-effective than FCL.

Full Container Load (FCL): An FCL service is when a carrier transports your goods, alone, in a shipping container from the US to Malaysia. You can load as many or as few goods into it as you need to, and seal your container before its departure from the United States. It will remain sealed until arrival in Malaysia unless customs officers decide to inspect your goods.

Air Freight from the US to Malaysia

Five to seven days is the average time taken for air-freight shipments from the US to Malaysia. It’s the fastest way to ship commercial goods between the two nations—and also the most expensive.

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

With so many variables affecting the cost of ocean and air shipping from the US to Malaysia, the price can vary considerably. The quote you receive from a freight forwarder will depend on factors such as the size, weight, and nature of your goods.

Also, the cost of air and ocean shipping varies, and your decision to use a port-to-door, door-to-door, door-to-port, or port-to-port delivery will make a difference, too.

If you need help choosing between air or ocean shipping, the weight of your goods can sometimes be the deciding factor. If your cargo weighs over 100kg, ocean freight is usually the most economical method. Goods under 100kg can be almost as cost-effective to send as air freight as they are with ocean shipping. Shipa Freight does not provide quotes for goods weighing less than 35kg.

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

Urgent shipments from the US to Malaysia should be shipped by air. Consignments can be ready for release at their destination airport in five to seven days. Ocean shipping takes considerably longer—usually 29 to 47 days.

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

If you want to use an ocean carrier to move your freight from the US to Malaysia, you’ll find some examples of ocean freight transit times below:

  • Houston to Tanjung Pelepas—47 days FCL
  • Los Angeles to Port Klang—40 days FCL, 36 days LCL
  • Long Beach to Port Klang—40 days FCL
  • Oakland to Penang—29 days FCL
  • San Francisco to Port Klang—37 days LCL

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

Air freight is the fastest way to import from the US to Malaysia. For example, shipments from New York can be ready for collection or onward transportation from Kuala Lumpur in around seven days, and from Los Angeles or Chicago in just five days.

Customs Clearance in the US and Malaysia

The complexities of export and import customs clearance are well-known. Often, businesses choose to hire a freight forwarder to manage the process. This ensures consignments meet regulatory requirements in the US and Malaysia and removes the chance of unnecessary delays to shipments.

Containers in the customs clearance zone as Shipa Freight helps with customs clearance

Even with a freight forwarder’s assistance, shippers will still be required to complete and file important documents to accompany their consignment. Customs officials in the US and Malaysia are likely to require:

  • A Commercial Invoice
  • A Packing List
  • A Certificate of Origin
  • A Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
  • An Airway Bill for air cargo or a Bill of Lading for ocean freight (you can leave this to Shipa Freight)

Samples of the above paperwork are available to view on this handy documents list page we’ve prepared. Additionally, you may be required to submit a license, permit, or certificate with your shipment.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

Ocean shipping from ports on the US West Coast mostly uses Pacific Ocean routes to reach Malaysia. Consignments originating from the eastern and southern seaboards are likely to use trans-Atlantic trade lanes. Either way, there’s a lot of ocean to cover from port to port. Consequently, you should expect ocean shipping from the US to Malaysia to take 29 to 47 days.

Wherever in the US your freight starts its journey to Malaysia, it will likely ship inside a container aboard a cargo vessel. Standard shipping containers are usually either 20 ft or 40 ft-long and open at one end. The shorter containers can fit 10 or 11 standard pallets. The 40 ft versions can accommodate up to 21 standard pallets.

Your freight forwarder will advise you if your sea freight requires a non-standard container, such as one that’s half-height, has an open-top, refrigeration, or ventilation capabilities.

Forwarders will also use their expertise to help you decide between the two ways of shipping a container from the US to Malaysia—LCL or FCL. Below we take a look at both.

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

For many shippers, LCL is the best option, especially if:

  • They are shipping a small consignment—six standard pallets at most
  • Their goods aren’t urgently required in Malaysia
  • Their cargo can safely share a container with products from other shippers
  • They appreciate that the essential logistics of consolidation and deconsolidation can result in a longer shipment time than FCL cargo

Businesses tend to avoid LCL shipping altogether if:

  • Their cargo must arrive in Malaysia by a certain date
  • Their consignment contains fragile freight or perishables
  • Their cargo is unsuitable for transportation in a shared container
  • They’re concerned that the frequent moving or handling of their goods required with LCL shipping could damage them

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Importing from the US to Malaysia using an FCL service often works out the best option for businesses with:

  • Freight required in Malaysia by a specific date
  • Goods that can’t share a shipping container with other products
  • The facilities to load and seal their container in the US
  • A recipient who can easily unload the container in Malaysia
  • A consignment with enough volume to fill at least half the capacity of a shipping container

Air Freight

The slow pace of ocean freight may not meet the demands of your supply chain, in which case air shipping will likely be your best way to export from the US to Malaysia. This is especially true if:

Your cargo contains perishables like plants, flowers, or food Your customer in Malaysia must take delivery of the goods urgently Your consignment is no larger than three pallets Your goods are high-value, requiring the high levels of security employed by airlines and airport operators

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US


Port Facts

  • Located in Mobile Bay, Alabama
  • Has benefited from $500 million of investment in its container facilities
  • A well-connected cargo hub with links to the river valleys in Ohio and Tennessee
  • Direct road connections to two Interstate highways

Owned By: Alabama State Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.



Port Facts

  • Container throughput grew by nearly 13% in 2017
  • Three new cranes in the Bay Port terminal boosted container-handling capacity
  • Goods from Texas can be transported to Houston by road or railroad and shipped to Malaysia

Owned By: Port of Houston Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.7 million TEUs.


Los Angeles

Port Facts

  • The USA’s premier container-handling facility
  • Automated terminals and railroad links make it fast and easy to get goods here from across Southern California and Northern Mexico

Owned By: City of Los Angeles.

Annual Container Volume: >9.4 million TEUs.



Port Facts

  • Situated in San Francisco Bay on the US West Coast
  • Facilities include 33 cranes and six container terminals
  • Easily accessible from all over the Western United States

Owned By: City of Oakland.

Annual Container Volume: 2.5 million TEUs.



Port Facts

  • The largest specialist container port in the United States
  • Situated on the Patapsco River
  • Ranked as the country’s fastest-growing shipping hub every year since 2014
  • In July 2019, the port broke its monthly record when it processed 98,500 TEUs

Owned By: Maryland Port Administration.

Annual Container Volume: >700,000 TEUs.


Other Ocean Ports of Origin in the United States

Below are some other US container gateways from which your goods can be shipped to Malaysia:

  • Atlanta
  • New Orleans
  • San Francisco
  • Tacoma
  • Long Beach
  • Norfolk
  • Boston
  • Charleston
  • Miami
  • Seattle
  • Dallas
  • Savannah
  • New York
  • Philadelphia
  • Port Everglades

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Malaysia

Penang (George Town)

Port Facts

  • Malaysia’s third-biggest harbor
  • Best-known as a hub for cruise ships, it’s also a major container facility
  • Infrastructure includes five container terminals and three berths for cargo vessels

Owned By: Penang Port Commission.

Annual Container Volume: >1.5 million TEUs.


Pasir Gudang Johor

Port Facts

  • A multi-purpose port handling all types of cargo
  • Located in a free trade zone
  • A dedicated railroad depot connects the port to Thailand and Singapore
  • The quayside has eight cranes and 70,000 square meters of warehouse space for containerized cargo

Owned By: Johor Port Berhad.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.


Port Klang

Port Facts

  • Located six kilometers southwest of the town of Klang
  • Ranked the 12th-busiest port in the world
  • A fully-automated third terminal is due to be built on Carey Island, extending the capacity of a port that’s already Malaysia’s largest sea gateway

Owned By: Port Klang Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >12.3 million TEUs.


Tanjung Pelepas

Port Facts

  • Situated at the mouth of the Pulai River
  • Located in southwestern Johor, close to the Strait of Malacca
  • Facilities were upgraded in 2018-2019
  • The world’s largest container vessels are now able to use the port
  • Seven existing cranes have been refurbished and joined by eight new cranes on the quayside
  • There are 12 berths for cargo vessels
  • Connected to major expressways, some of which link to Singapore

Owned By: Johor Port Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >8.9 million TEUs.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

Airports of Origin in the US

Los Angeles

Airport Facts

  • Widely known as LAX
  • Located in the Westchester area of Los Angeles
  • The majority of freight departs aboard passenger services
  • No direct flights operate from LAX to Malaysia

Malaysia Airports Served: None.

Los Angeles to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Chicago O’Hare

Airport Facts

  • Located on the Northwestern side of Chicago
  • 23 kilometers from the Loop business district
  • The airport has space for 15 wide-body aircraft to be loaded simultaneously
  • It’s nearly 15,000 kilometers from Chicago to Kuala Lumpur—too far for a direct flight
  • Goods from Chicago to Malaysia will be flown aboard indirect services

Malaysia Airports Served: None.

Chicago to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None.


El Paso

Airport Facts

  • Located just six kilometers from the city center
  • Has an 8,700 square meter cargo complex with modern facilities to process freight
  • If your supplier is based in New Mexico, West Texas, or Northern Mexico, El Paso Airport is a conveniently located airport

Malaysia Airports Served: None.

El Paso to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts

  • Situated 16 kilometers northwest of downtown Sacramento
  • An eco-friendly airport
  • Nearly a third of its electricity is generated using solar power
  • Goods will be flown from here to Malaysia via indirect services
  • Ideal airport of loading If your manufacturer or supplier is based in Northern California

Malaysia Airports Served: None.

Sacramento to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None.


New York JFK

Airport Facts

  • The top-rated air cargo facility in the United States in terms of the value of goods handled
  • Has four runways
  • Located in Queens, 25 kilometers from Manhattan

Malaysia Airports Served: None.

New York to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Departure Airports in the United States

Commercial goods can also be flown to Malaysia from these airports in the United States:

  • Charlotte
  • Philadelphia
  • Miami
  • Boston
  • Atlanta
  • Houston
  • Seattle
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Detroit
  • Denver
  • Dallas/Fort Worth

Airports of Arrival in Malaysia


Airport Facts

  • The oldest airport in Malaysia
  • Located close to Bayan Lepas in the southeast of Penang Island
  • Can handle 360,000 tonnes of cargo annually
  • Two cargo terminals are available to receive air freight from the United States

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Penang Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Kuala Lumpur

Airport Facts

  • Malaysia’s main air freight hub
  • Has three runways
  • Handled over 700,000 tonnes of air cargo in 2018
  • Freight from the USA will arrive here via indirect flights
  • It’s an ideal airport of arrival for goods from the USA bound for Nilai, Sepang, Banting, and elsewhere in Southwestern Malaysia

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Kuala Lumpur Cargo-Only Operators: None.


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

Shipa Freight’s digital-only approach to international shipping offers your business and its supply chain all the following benefits when engaging in ocean and air shipping from the US to Malaysia:

  • Quick quotes online in a fraction of the time it takes traditional forwarders
  • Fast and easy comparison of ocean and air freight quotes
  • The ability to turn the most favorable quote into a booking in moments
  • Help from a dedicated customer service team 24/7 when you need a little human assistance
  • Access to our global network of logistics and customs specialists
  • Simplified shipping documentation and customs clearance

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