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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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Updated on 28 Nov 202113 min read

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.

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.

What Are Your Options for Shipping 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 two most feasible ways of transporting goods from the US to Singapore are air and ocean shipping. Each has upsides and downsides. This page will outline what they are so you have the information you need to decide which is best for you.

Ocean Freight From the US to Singapore

Less than Container Load (LCL): In LCL shipping, your goods will share a container with products from other shippers. Transit times can be longer than FCL, due to the need for cargo to be consolidated before export from the US to Singapore. Similarly, deconsolidation is required in Singapore before goods can be transported on to their final destination.

Full Container Load (FCL): 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, FCL freight is cost-effective for large shipments.

Air Freight from the US to Singapore

If your supply chain requires your goods for import from the US to Singapore to move quickly, air freight is ideal. As costly as it is, when your shipping scenario requires high-speed transit, air shipping can’t be matched. Flight times between the US and Singapore are measured in hours, and thanks to reasonably fast customs processes in both countries, your cargo can be at its destination in a few days.

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

Freight forwarders work out the cost of a shipment by taking into account the following:

  • The type of freight being shipped
  • The size, weight, and volume of the consignment
  • The chosen mode of transportation—LCL or FCL ocean shipping, or air freight?
  • The distance the goods need to be transported
  • Whether you require door-to-door, port-to-door, port-to-port, or door-to-port delivery

Unsure whether ocean or air freight will best suit your needs and budget? You can always ask a freight forwarder to supply quotes for both.

If you are shipping loads with a weight of around 100 kilograms, the difference in cost between ocean and air shipping will not be that great. For larger shipments that weigh over 100kg, the cost of air freight will be many times that of transportation by sea, so ocean shipping usually offers the most affordable option.

Please be aware that freight forwarders do not quote for consignments weighing 35 kg or less.

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 a container from the US to Singapore, here are some examples of transit times to the Port of Singapore, taken from Shipa Freight’s 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
  • From Atlanta - 47 days FCL, 41 days LCL
  • From Jacksonville - 46 days FCL

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

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

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

Customs Clearance in the US and Singapore

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. A freight forwarder can remove the hassle and complexity of the process. Your forwarder will ensure your consignment complies with all relevant rules and regulations, helping to avoid unnecessary delays.

However, even with a freight forwarder to help your business with air and ocean shipping from the US to Singapore, you will still have some responsibilities in the process. For example, you will need to make sure the following documents are available for inspection by the customs authorities:

  1. A Commercial Invoice

  2. A Packing List

  3. A Certificate of Origin

  4. A Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)

  5. An Airway Bill for air cargo or a Bill of Lading for ocean freight (you can leave this to Shipa Freight)

For some types of goods, a license, certificate, or permit may also be required.

Should you wish to take a closer look at the documents we’ve listed above, you can see some examples on this handy documents list page we’ve compiled.

Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?

Ocean Freight

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.

It will take several weeks for a carrier to move your goods in their shipping container from the US to Singapore. Your sea freight will likely ship in a container that’s either 20ft or 40ft-long. These standard containers suit most types of cargo. But if your commercial goods require a non-standard container—such as one with an open-top, refrigeration or ventilation capabilities—your forwarder will advise.

Another key role your freight forwarder will play is helping you decide between FCL or LCL ocean shipping. We’ve included details about both forms of shipping below:

Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

Many businesses opt for LCL shipping if:

  • They’re shipping a small consignment, occupying no more than six standard pallets
  • Their freight isn’t urgently required in Singapore
  • They’re content with their cargo sharing a container with other shippers’ goods
  • They understand that the logistics of consolidation and deconsolidation could cause their shipment to take longer than an FCL shipment

Businesses tend to avoid LCL shipping if:

  • Their consignment from the US must be in Singapore by a certain date
  • They don’t want their cargo handled more than is necessary
  • Their goods are perishable,fragile or otherwise unsuitable for shipping in a shared container
  • They’re shipping a large or awkwardly-shaped consignment

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Choosing an FCL service when importing from the US to Singapore often works out the best choice for businesses, especially if:

  • Their goods must be in Singapore by a specific date
  • Their freight cannot share a container
  • They have the facilities to load and seal their container in the US
  • They’re shipping a large volume of goods—big enough to fill at least half the capacity of a 20ft container

Air Freight

If you don’t want to wait several weeks for an ocean carrier to transport your goods in a container from the US to Singapore, air shipping offers the following benefits, in addition to sheer speed:

  • It’s ideal for transporting perishables like plants, flowers, or food
  • It can ensure you meet urgent deadlines
  • You may be eligible for a lower insurance premium than you’d pay for ocean shipping
  • Airport security protocols offer greater protection for high-value cargo
  • It’s often cost-effective for smaller consignments of, say, no more than three pallets

Ocean Cargo Port Guide

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US

Los Angeles

Port Facts:

  • The largest of the US’ ocean ports
  • The world’s 17th-busiest container port
  • Occupies nearly 70 kilometers of California coastline
  • Facilities include 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:

  • Facilities include 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:

  • Ranked among the world’s top 100 container ports in 2019
  • Comprises a complex that’s 80-kilometers long
  • The port is part natural and part artificial
  • Infrastructure includes 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 Singapore via the following ocean freight gateways:

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

Cargo Port of Arrival in Singapore


Port Facts:

  • The world’s second-busiest port after Shanghai in China
  • 20% of all shipping containers in the world pass through here
  • 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.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide

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 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

Airport 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.


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

If you’re keen to simplify the business of ocean and air 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.

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