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Ocean and Air Shipping From the US to Singapore

FCL, LCL and Air freight forwarding: information and online quote

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In the year 2017 to 2018, Singapore was the US' 13th largest export partner, with a growth of 10% in export values from the previous year. Looking at the statistics from the Singapore perspective, the USA is the city-state’s fourth-largest source of imports.

Trading relations between the US and Singapore are robust, so ocean and air freight services are plentiful. If you have goods to export from the US to Singapore, you shouldn’t have trouble finding carriers to help, regardless of which US state is the origin of your shipments.

On this page, you’ll find some useful information about shipping freight from the US to Singapore by air or by ocean, along with some examples of available routes and their transit times.

How to Ship Ocean Freight From the US to Singapore

Freight forwarding professional leaning on a stack of cartons, adjacent to the flags of the United States and Singapore

The vast majority of shippers import from the US to Singapore using sea freight, probably because it’s the most economical way to ship freight over long distances.

Does your business in the US have designs on Singapore as a target market, or are you a Singaporean importer of American products? If so, port-to-port ocean shipping is a slow, but cost-effective way to transport your goods.

It will take several weeks for a carrier to move your goods in their shipping container from the US to Singapore. However, provided your supply chain and logistics planning takes that fact into account, the long transit times involved in FCL and LCL ocean shipping don’t need to present a problem.

Know Your Ocean Freight Options

Sea freight transportation takes two primary forms for most commodities, namely:

  • FCL shipping: whereby you pay for your goods to travel in a container from the US to Singapore
  • LCL shipping: which involves consolidating your freight with other shippers’ products to fill a container

The first of these two options is best when you have enough cargo to fill a container. However, you can also use FCL shipping for smaller shipments if you don’t like the idea of consolidation. For example, some products might be sensitive to contamination, or you may not wish your goods to be handled too much.

LCL shipping, on the other hand, is typically the favored method for smaller shipments, as pricing tends to be lower than FCL if you ship low freight volumes. Whichever way you choose, a reputable freight forwarder will help you to select a port of loading and a port of discharge for your cargo. Some forwarders will also offer you the choice of door-to-door or port-to-port shipping services.

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

The primary advantage to less-than-container-load, or LCL, shipping is its economy for smaller consignments of goods. If your trade involves regular small, non-urgent shipments, LCL is cost-efficient. It's also advantageous because you don't need to wait to accumulate enough orders to fill a container.

In LCL shipping, you will only pay for the space you use in a container. Shipment times might be a little longer than FCL, though, due to the need for your goods to be consolidated before export from the US to Singapore. Similarly, they will need to be deconsolidated in Singapore before they can be transported on to their final destination.
Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) From the US to Singapore

Perhaps you prefer to keep your goods isolated from other shippers’ consignments, or you will regularly ship high volumes of cargo. If so, FCL ocean freight services might suit your business better than FCL for importing from the US to Singapore.

With FCL shipping, you pay for the use of an entire shipping container, which you can fill or part-fill. The supplier of the goods can seal the container before shipping, and—barring any intervention from customs authorities—it will remain sealed until arrival at its destination.

Because you pay a flat rate for the container, rather than incurring fees for the volume and weight of your goods, FCL freight is cost-effective for large shipments. The two container sizes most commonly used are 20-foot and 40-foot, so you can choose which unit to use depending on the amount of cargo you will ship.
Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US

The US has no shortage of ocean ports from which to ship your merchandise or materials to Singapore. Of course, it will often make sense to choose a port of loading as close as possible to the goods’ point of origin. However, in some cases, it can be faster to ship overland to a port that will provide the shortest ocean route between the two countries.

To help you choose your port of loading in the US, take a look at those described below. You’ll find a few facts and figures about some of those you can use, with the rest mentioned in list form for quick reference.

Los Angeles

Port Facts

  • The largest of the US’s ocean ports
  • The world’s 17th busiest container port
  • Comprises nearly 70 kilometers of the California coast
  • Los Angeles Port has eight container terminals
  • More than 80 cranes are in use to load and offload cargo
  • Has the highest freight throughput in the country, measured by volume and value

Owned By: City of Los Angeles.

Annual Container Volume: >9 million TEUs.


New York

Port Facts

  • This port has four container terminals
  • It’s the largest of the US’ East Coast ports
  • The third-busiest port in the United States
  • The 20th busiest port in the World

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

Annual Container Volume: >3.2 million TEUs.


New Orleans

Port Facts

  • Known as Port NOLA (New Orleans Louisiana)
  • Located on the Mississippi River
  • Has six container-handling cranes
  • Serves the Southern seaboard of the United States

Owned By: The Board of Commissioners of the Port of New Orleans.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.



Port Facts

  • Located in the state of South Carolina
  • Processes close to $70 billion of goods per year
  • Has two container terminals, with a third to open in 2021
  • Ranked as the number-eight port in the US for the value of cargo handled
  • The new container terminal will add a further 50% to the port’s overall capacity

Owned By: South Carolina Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.2 million TEUs.



Port Facts

  • Among the world’s top 100 container ports in 2019
  • Comprises a complex that’s 50-miles long
  • The port is part natural and part artificial
  • The port complex houses two container terminals
  • One of the world’s youngest significant ports

Owned By: City of Houston.

Annual Container Volume: >2 million TEUs.


Other Departure Ports in the United States

In addition to the ports described above, you can also export from the US to China via the following ocean freight gateways:

  • San Francisco
  • Jacksonville
  • Savannah
  • Tacoma
  • Oakland
  • Norfolk
  • Boston
  • Miami
  • Seattle
  • Baltimore
  • Mobile
  • Philadelphia
  • Port Everglades

Cargo Ports of Arrival in Singapore

If the choice of departure ports in the United States is bewildering, the same cannot be said of Singapore. As a city-state, Singapore has just one ocean port through which all its imports must arrive.


Port Facts

  • The world’s second-busiest port after Shanghai in China
  • 20% of all shipping containers in the world pass through Singapore’s port
  • Houses extensive container facilities
  • 52 berths are available for container vessels
  • 200 quay cranes are in operation

Owned By: The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.

Annual Container Volume: >36 million TEUs.


Air Freight From the US to Singapore

Some supply chains require imports from the US to Singapore to move quickly, at short notice, or both. That’s when air freight comes into its own. As costly as it is, when your shipping scenario requires high-speed transit, air shipping can’t be matched.

With flight times between the US and Singapore measurable in hours, and reasonably fast customs processes in both countries, your cargo can be at its destination in a few days.

Of course, there are other reasons to fly your imports into Singapore, aside from the speed advantage.

You might also wish to consider air freight if your goods’ point of origin or destination is close to an international airport and a long way from the coast. Perhaps you require high levels of security, or want the reliability of airline scheduling. You may have only one or two pallets to ship, in which case the cost-difference between ocean and air freight may be negligible.
Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Airports of Origin in the US

Los Angeles

Airport Facts

  • Tenth-busiest cargo airport in the world
  • Ideal export airport for cargo originating in the western states of the US
  • More than half of the freight in and out of LAX is carried in the holds of passenger airliners
  • Offers direct flights to Singapore

Singapore Airports Served: Singapore.

Los Angeles to Singapore Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Chicago O’Hare

Airport Facts

  • Has a cargo apron that can accommodate 15 wide-bodied freighters
  • The airport is located 23 kilometers northwest of the Loop Business District
  • No direct flights from Chicago to Singapore

Singapore Airports Served: None.

Chicago to Singapore Cargo-Only Operators: None.



Airport Facts

  • Serves the state of Colorado and surrounds
  • Located 40 kilometers from downtown Denver
  • The airport covers an area that’s 1.5 times the size of Manhattan
  • Handles more than 235,000 tonnes of freight annually
  • No direct flights from Denver to Singapore

Singapore Airports Served: None.

Denver to Singapore Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Dallas/Fort Worth

Airport Facts

  • Situated midway between the cities of Fort Worth and Dallas in the state of Texas
  • This airport has a cargo throughput of more than 900,000 tonnes
  • 45% of the freight passing through here is international cargo
  • No direct flights from Dallas/Fort Worth to Singapore

Singapore Airports Served: None.

Dallas/Fort Worth to Singapore Cargo-Only Operators: None.


New York-JFK

Airport Facts

  • The third-largest airport in the US for international freight movements
  • This airport has four runways
  • Covers an area of more than 2,000 hectares
  • Several cargo companies have on-airport facilities here
  • No direct flights from JFK to Singapore

Singapore Airports Served: None.

New York to Singapore Cargo-Only Operators: None.


Other Airports in the US

Due to the extremely long distances between the cities of the United States and Singapore, direct flights between the two countries are scarce. However, as well as flights from those airports mentioned above, you can also fly your freight, via connecting services, from the following US gateways:

  • Atlanta
  • Charlotte
  • El Paso
  • Houston
  • Miami
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Sacramento

Airports of Arrival in Singapore


Airport Facts

  • Rated as the world’s best airport
  • Located in Eastern Singapore
  • The 19th busiest airport in the world
  • Served by direct flights from several airports in the United States

Connected Airports in the US: Los Angeles, Newark, San Francisco, Seattle

US to Singapore Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.


Clearing Customs in the US and Singapore

Customs stamp of wood and rubber, resting on a customs invoice document stamped with export customs clearance in red ink

Customs clearance can be one of the most confusing elements of international shipping, especially for commercial goods. Your shipments will need to clear export customs before they can leave the US. They will also need to satisfy Singaporean customs regulations if they are to be released into the city-state.

It’s especially important to know the documents you will need to support your export and import customs declarations. Of course, a competent freight forwarder will help you to ensure compliance with the documentation requirements of the US and Singapore customs procedures. Nevertheless, it is worth getting to know the most commonly requested documents, which are as follows:

  • Letter of credit
  • Certificate(s) of origin
  • Bill of lading (will be provided by your freight forwarder or international carrier)
  • Packing list
  • Commercial invoice
  • Tax invoice

The above documents will be required, both for export clearance in the United States, and for the import clearance process in Singapore. To find out more about them, and see some examples, visit our shipping and customs Document List page.

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

It's no short distance between the US and Singapore, and journeys between the US East Coast and Singapore are exceptionally lengthy. Ocean freight will, therefore, spend several weeks in transit. Air freight is a lot faster, naturally.

Indeed, thanks to efficient customs processes in some US airports, and similarly streamlined procedures at Singapore’s Changi Airport, some air freight shipments are completed in as little as three days.

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

To give you an idea of the time needed to ship commodities from Germany to Taiwan, here are two examples of transit times, taken from our FCL and LCL shipping schedules:

  • From Los Angeles - 27 days FCL, 36 days LCL
  • From San Francisco - 31 days LCL
  • From Houston – 38 days LCL and FCL
  • From New York – 40 days FCL, 36 days LCL
  • From Philadelphia – 46 days FCL, 40 days LCL
  • From Miami – 40 days FCL, 39 days LCL
  • From Boston – 39 days LCL

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

Air freight from the US typically takes three to eight days to arrive and clear Singapore customs, as highlighted by the following list of transit times from Shipa Freight’s schedules:

  • From Chicago and Miami – 3 days
  • From Los Angeles – 4 days
  • From New York and Boston – 5 days
  • From Houston – 6 days
  • From Atlanta and Philadelphia – 7 days
  • From Denver – 8 days

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

It takes many resources, much fuel, and depending on the mode of transportation, quite a bit of time to ship commercial products from the US to Singapore. Therefore, freighting between the two countries is never going to be cheap.

If you are shipping loads with a weight of around 100 kilograms or perhaps a little more, the difference in cost between ocean and air shipping will not be that great. For large shipments, though, the cost of air freight will be many times that of transportation by sea.

However, that doesn’t mean you should rule air freight out. Your overall shipping costs will depend on a wide range of factors.

For instance, the origin and destination of your shipments may be very close to airports, but a long way from an ocean gateway. In such a case, the cost variance between air and ocean freight may not be that great once the need for overland transportation to and from ocean ports is factored in.

For goods totaling less than 40 kilograms in weight, you’ll probably find that an international courier service is the most economical—and most straightforward—option for shipping. Such small quantities would not make sense for a freight forwarder to get involved with, and at Shipa Freight, the minimum weight we will ship is 35 kilograms.

Why Ship From the US to Singapore With Shipa Freight?

If you’re keen to simplify the business of shipping from the US to Singapore, the Shipa Freight online forwarding platform is more than worthy of your attention. We offer benefits to your business that are unmatched by the traditional model of freight forwarding. For example, you can:

  • Access ocean freight and air freight quotes and bookings, all in one place
  • Get fast, straightforward, competitive freight quotes
  • Turn quotes into bookings with just a mouse-click or two
  • Receive your quotes, book, pay, and track your cargo from the US to Singapore
  • Access 24/7 customer support
  • Reduce the risk of customs issues with help from our specialists
  • Take advantage of our integrated compliance engine to simplify shipping and customs documentation

Best of all, it’s so easy to give Shipa Freight a try, because you can do it all online.

Why not get a quote for your next US to Singapore shipment? Our quotation request form is at the top of this page.

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

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