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Ocean and Air Shipping From the US to Malaysia

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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 US’s 18th-largest trade partner. The products most often exported include machinery, optic and medical instruments, and agricultural products.

Your business could already be exporting or importing these or other goods from the US to Malaysia. Or you could be a start-up seeking to make your first shipment. Either way, a freight forwarder can make it easier for your business to access the services of international ocean and air cargo carriers.

Shipping Ocean Freight From the US to Malaysia

Shipping from the US to Malaysia with Shipa Freight. Flags of the US and of Malaysia 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. It’s why ocean shipping from the US to Malaysia takes 29 to 47 days.

There are two ways to send sea freight:

  • FCL shipping for the exclusive use of a container
  • LCL shipping for shared use of a container

Your choice of LCL or FCL shipping will depend on multiple factors including:

  • The size of your shipment
  • How urgent your consignment is
  • The type of goods you wish to ship

Whether you choose LCL or FCL, your goods are likely to be transported in a standard container aboard a cargo vessel. Here’s some information about those containers:

  • Containers usually come in two sizes—20ft-long and 40ft-long
  • 20ft containers can fit 10 or 11 standard pallets
  • 40ft containers can carry up to 21 standard pallets
  • Specialist containers are available such as ventilated, half-height and refrigerated

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

When you have a smaller consignment to export from the US to Malaysia, it’s unlikely to make commercial sense to choose FCL shipping. LCL will almost certainly be more cost-effective. 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.
Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) From the US to Malaysia

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 at source in the US. It will remain sealed until arrival in Malaysia unless customs officers decide to inspect your goods.

Some key differences between LCL and FCL shipping include:

  • FCL does not require consolidation or de-consolidation
  • There will be fewer touches of your goods with FCL
  • FCL is usually the quicker transportation mode for importing from the US to Malaysia
    Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US


Located in Mobile Bay, Alabama, this port has benefited from $500 million of investment in its container facilities. It’s a well-connected cargo hub with links to the river valleys in Ohio and Tennessee and direct road connections to two Interstate highways.

Owned By: Alabama State Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USMOB.


Container throughput grew by nearly 13% in 2017 at the Port of Houston. The installation of 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. FCL shipments can reach Tanjung Pelepas in 47 days.

Owned By: Port of Houston Authority. Annual Container Volume: >2.7 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USHOU.

Los Angeles

This port is the US’ premier container-handling facility. Automated terminals and railroad links make getting goods here from across Southern California and Northern Mexico a rapid process. Shipping to Port Klang in Malaysia can be completed in 40 days by FCL and 36 days by LCL.

Owned By: City of Los Angeles. Annual Container Volume: >9.4 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USLAX.


Situated in San Francisco Bay on the US West Coast, Oakland has 33 cranes and six container terminals. The port is easily accessible from all over the Western United States. FCL shipping from here to Penang in Malaysia can usually be completed in 29 days.

Owned By: City of Oakland. Annual Container Volume: 2.5 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: USOAK.


This port in Maryland is the largest specialist container port in the United States. Situated on the Patapsco River, it has 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. UN/LOCODE: USBAL.

Other Ocean Ports of Origin in the United States

Below are other 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

If you ask a freight forwarder to have your goods sent by sea in a container from the US to Malaysia, there are four major ports at which your cargo is likely to arrive:

Penang (George Town)

Malaysia’s third-biggest harbor is best-known as a hub for cruise ships. It’s also a major container facility and port of arrival for goods requiring distribution across Northern Malaysia. There are five container terminals and three berths for cargo vessels.

Owned By: Penang Port Commission. Annual Container Volume: >1.5 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: MYPEN.

Pasir Gudang Johor

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

Owned By: Johor Port Berhad. Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: MYPGU.

Port Klang

Annual container throughput at Port Klang has been up and down in recent years. But the port’s owners continue with their plans to upgrade the facilities. 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. It’s located 6km southwest of the town of Klang and is ranked the 12th-busiest port in the world.

Owned By: Port Klang Authority. Annual Container Volume: >12.3 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: MYPKG.

Tanjung Pelepas

Situated at the mouth of the Pulai River, this port is in southwestern Johor, close to the Strait of Malacca. Following an upgrade in 2018-2019, the world’s largest container vessels are now able to use Tanjung Pelepas. Seven existing cranes have been refurbished and joined by eight new cranes on the quayside. There are 12 berths for cargo vessels and the port is connected to major expressways, some of which link to Singapore.

Owned By: Johor Port Authority. Annual Container Volume: >8.9 million TEUs. UN/LOCODE: MYTPP.

Air Freight From the US to Malaysia

Five to seven days is the average time taken for air shipping from the US to Malaysia. Assuming your cargo is suitable to be flown, the option to import from the US to Malaysia by air comes with the following benefits:

  • Ideal for meeting urgent orders
  • Good for valuable shipments thanks to more strict airport and airline security procedures
  • Often more suitable than ocean shipping for perishable, fragile, and temperature-sensitive cargo
  • Cost-effective for smaller consignments of two or three standard pallets
    Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Airports of Origin in the US

Los Angeles

Freight forwarders can transport your goods from Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia in about five days—quick enough to meet most pressing deadlines. No direct flights operate from LAX to Malaysia, so your freight is likely to be booked aboard two or more connecting flights.

Malaysia Airports Served: None. Los Angeles to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: LAX.

Chicago O’Hare

It’s nearly 15,000km from Chicago to Kuala Lumpur. Too far for a direct flight. So goods from Chicago to Malaysia will be flown aboard indirect services. Shipments can be completed in five days from Chicago O’Hare, which has space for 15 wide-body aircraft to be loaded simultaneously.

Malaysia Airports Served: None. Chicago to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: ORD.

El Paso

If your supply chain requires the movement of goods from New Mexico, West Texas, or Northern Mexico, your supplier might use El Paso Airport. It’s just 6km from the city center and has an 8,700 square meter cargo complex with modern facilities to process goods bound for Malaysia.

Malaysia Airports Served: None. El Paso to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: ELP.


Situated 16km northwest of downtown Sacramento, this is an eco-friendly airport. Nearly a third of its electricity is generated using solar power. If your manufacturers or suppliers are based in Northern California you will find accessing the airport by road or railroad straightforward. Goods will be flown from here to Malaysia via indirect services.

Malaysia Airports Served: None. Sacramento to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: SMF.

New York JFK

This is the top-rated air cargo facility in the United States in terms of the value of goods handled. The airport—which has four runways—is located in Queens, 25km from Manhattan. Freight forwarders should be able to ship goods from JFK to Malaysia in seven days.

Malaysia Airports Served: None. New York to Malaysia Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA Code: JFK.

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

There are two key airports in Malaysia that freight forwarders are likely to use as airports of arrival:


The oldest airport in Malaysia is located close to Bayan Lepas in the southeast of Penang Island. The facility can handle 360,000 tonnes of cargo annually. There are two cargo terminals ready to receive air freight from around the world, including the United States.

Connected Airports in the US: None. US to Penang Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: PEN.

Kuala Lumpur

This international airport with three runways is Malaysia’s main air freight hub. In 2018 it handled over 700,000 tonnes of air cargo. It’s an ideal airport of arrival for goods from the US requiring distribution to Nilai, Sepang, Banting, and elsewhere in Southwestern Malaysia. With over 15,000km between the airport and New York, freight from the US will arrive here via indirect flights.

Connected Airports in the US: None. US to Kuala Lumpur Cargo-Only Operators: None. IATA CODE: KUL.

Customs Clearance Procedures in the US and Malaysia

Don’t let the rules and regulations regarding customs clearance put you off international shipping. Shipa Freight saves you time and hassle by helping you understand the documents that need to accompany your consignment. These are:

  • A commercial Invoice
  • A certificate of origin
  • A packing list
  • A letter of credit or other payment terms (depending on the deal negotiated between the two contractors)
  • An airway bill for air shipments (Shipa Freight will provide this)
  • A bill of lading for ocean shipments (Shipa Freight will provide this)

To view samples of these documents and read more information about them, please see this page.

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

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

How Long Does It Take To Ship Cargo by Ocean 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:

  • Charlotte to Port Klang—35 days LCL
  • Cincinnati to Port Klang—45 days LCL
  • 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 Air Freight From the US to Malaysia?

Calendar for transit times on shipping from US to Malaysia Air freight is the fastest way to import from the US to Malaysia, as these examples show:

  • New York to Kuala Lumpur—7 days
  • Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur—5 days
  • Chicago to Kuala Lumpur—5 days

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

With so many variables affecting the cost of shipping commercial goods, 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 goods weigh over 100kg, ocean shipping is usually the most economical. Goods under 100kg can be just 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.

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

Here are five reasons to choose Shipa Freight as the freight forwarder to arrange and coordinate your import or export from the US to Malaysia:

  1. Get a quick quote for your consignment
  2. Receive expert assistance to make navigating customs clearance rules and regulations simple
  3. Book and pay easily by card online
  4. Our innovative platform uses GPS to let you track your shipment from the US to Malaysia.
  5. Benefit from 24/7 support provided by international shipping experts at our parent organization Agility Logistics

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

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