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Ocean & Air Shipping From the US to the UK

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The UK is the US’s seventh-largest trade partner and the fourth-largest destination for exports of American goods. Over 42,000 US firms export to the UK.

Negotiations regarding a new trade deal between the two nations will start in 2020 as the UK leaves the European Union. In the meantime, trade lanes across and over the Atlantic will stay busy as companies continue to export or import from the US to the United Kingdom. After Brexit, it’s very possible that ocean and air shipping from the US to the United Kingdom will be more popular than ever.

Freight forwarders help businesses access the international carriers who transport commercial goods over the Atlantic. They save companies time and money by coordinating the import and export process. Freight forwarders will calculate a bespoke quote based on the details of a consignment. The information they will require includes:

  • The nature of the goods to be shipped
  • Their size, weight, and volume
  • The preferred ports or airports of arrival and departure
  • If a door-to-door, port-to-port, port-to-door or door-to-port delivery is required

Shipping Ocean Freight From the US to the United Kingdom

Warehouse operative pushing a trolley stacked with cartons from the flag of the US towards the flag of the United Kingdom

The time taken for a carrier to ship commercial goods in a container from the US to the United Kingdom depends on the port of origin. Consignments leaving from the Port of New York on the East Coast can reach the UK in just 15 days. Shipping sea freight from other ports such as Chicago in the north, Dallas in the south and Los Angeles in the west takes considerably longer—around 40 days.

To send your goods in a shipping container from the US to the United Kingdom, a freight forwarder will need to know:

  • The preferred port of origin in the United States
  • The port of arrival in the United Kingdom
  • Whether goods are to be transported using FCL or LCL ocean shipping

FCL shipping gives your business the exclusive use of a shipping container. With LCL, goods share a container with other products.Freight forwarders should help you select the best type of container for your ocean shipping from a list that includes:

  • Half-height containers
  • Flat rack containers
  • Insulated containers
  • Ventilated containers

Most containers are available in two sizes. 20ft containers have room for 10 to 11 standard pallets. 40ft containers can carry up to 21 standard pallets.

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

Businesses use LCL shipping when they have smaller consignments to import or export from the US to the United Kingdom. Products are consolidated with goods from other shippers at the port of origin in the US. When the container is ready to ship, it’s lifted onto a cargo vessel for the trans-Atlantic journey to the United Kingdom. Teams at the port of arrival de-consolidate the goods and customs officials carry out checks before goods are discharged.

When booking LCL shipping, businesses should always check that a freight forwarder:

  • Provides LCL shipping services at their preferred ports
  • Offers door-to-port, port-to-port, door-to-door, or port-to-door deliveries
  • Helps shippers understand the documentation required for customs clearance
    Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) From the US to the United Kingdom

FCL shipping gives businesses the option to reserve a container exclusively for their goods when exporting or importing from the US to the United Kingdom. The advantages of choosing FCL over LCL include:

  • No time-consuming consolidation and deconsolidation
  • Fewer touches of goods during shipping
  • The opportunity to seal a container at source after loading
  • Faster shipping between the US and the United Kingdom (in most cases)
    Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Origin in the US

New York

The Port of New York and New Jersey has four container terminals and is the largest port on the eastern seaboard of the United States. It’s also the country’s third-busiest port. ExpressRail provides quick routes into port from destinations across New York State, New Jersey, Connecticut, and other areas in Northeastern US.

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

Annual Container Volume: >3.2 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USNYC.

Miami

The Port of Miami is the ninth-biggest seaport in the US. If your supply chain requires transporting goods from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or elsewhere in Florida, using this port is a good option.

Owned By: Multiple owners.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USMIA.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to the largest port in the United States. Facilities stretch for 70km along the California coastline. Eight freight terminals process goods for shipment to the United Kingdom and 80 cranes lift containers from shore to ship. Local roads and railroads allow easy access to the port from locations across Southern California including Anaheim, Santa Monica, and Central Los Angeles.

Owned By: City of Los Angeles.

Annual Container Volume: >9 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USLAX.

Philadelphia

The Port of Philadelphia is on the Delaware River in Pennsylvania. The Packer Avenue Marine Terminal is the port’s busiest terminal, handling containerized goods. Steel, fruit, and frozen meat are among the most popular imports and exports handled here.

Owned By: State of Pennsylvania.

Annual Container Volume: 600,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USPHL.

Savannah

Savannah is a major seaport in the Southeastern United States. From 2000 to 2005 the port grew faster than any other in the US. Garden City Terminal handles containerized goods and it’s the largest facility of its kind on the United States’ Gulf and Atlantic coasts. It features over 120,000 square meters of covered storage space and 15 high-speed container-lifting cranes.

Owned By: Georgia Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4.3 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USSAV.

Other Destination Ports in the United States

Other gateways from which you can ship your exports to the UK from the US include:

  • Atlanta
  • New Orleans
  • San Francisco
  • Tacoma
  • Oakland
  • Norfolk
  • Boston
  • Charleston
  • Houston
  • Seattle
  • Dallas
  • Baltimore
  • Mobile
  • Long Beach
  • Port Everglades

Cargo Ports of Arrival in the United Kingdom

Teesport

Teesport is the UK’s northern gateway for international shipping. Located on the River Tees close to Middlesbrough in Northeast England, discharging US exports here enables access to good road and rail links. These extend across Northern England and connect with Newcastle, Sunderland, Hartlepool, York, Leeds, and other towns and cities.

Owned By: PD Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >500,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBTEE.

Felixstowe

The Port of Felixstowe processes nearly half of the UK’s containerized goods. Situated in Suffolk to the northeast of London, it’s Europe’s seventh-busiest container port. Consignments from the US can easily be transported from here to London or cities in Eastern England such as Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge, and Colchester.

Owned By: Hutchison Port Holdings.

Annual Container Volume: >3.8 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBFXT.

London Gateway

London Gateway sits on the northern bank of the mouth of the River Thames close to Canvey Island and Southend-on-Sea. It is the UK’s most technologically-advanced port and its fastest-growing cargo hub. Goods shipped on the world’s largest cargo vessels are lifted from ship to shore by state-of-the-art cranes. Strong road and rail connections enable swift distribution of goods across London and the South East of England.

Owned By: DP World.

Annual Container Volume: >1.3 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBLGP.

Southampton

The Port of Southampton lies 16km inland on The Solent. It’s the biggest port on the South Coast of England. The container terminal has facilities for handling fresh fruit and vegetables. Following discharge, goods can be distributed across Southern England and up to London using rail and road connections.

Owned By: Associated British Ports.

Annual Container Volume: >1.9 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBSOU.

Belfast

Goods destined for Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland can be shipped from the United States to the Port of Belfast. This key freight hub is where almost 20% of Ireland’s ocean trade is processed, and it’s just across the Atlantic from the US.

Owned By: Belfast Harbor Commissioners.

Annual Container Volume: >125,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: GBBEL.

In addition to the above ports, Shipa Freight can arrange for commercial goods to be sent as ocean freight from the US to Grangemouth in Scotland.

Air Freight From the US to the United Kingdom

Air shipping is the quickest way to get goods from the United States to the UK. Most freight forwarders will fly your consignment across the Atlantic in eight days. But not all commercial goods are suitable to be sent as air cargo. If consignments are large, bulky, or not permitted in the hold of an aircraft, ocean shipping will be the only alternative.

Typical scenarios in which your business might send goods as air freight from the US to the UK include:

  • When they are fragile or have a limited shelf-life
  • When they are urgently required in the United Kingdom
  • When they are of high value and will benefit from strict airport and airline security
  • When they will fit onto a maximum of three pallets
  • When they are temperature-sensitive


Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Airports of Origin in the US

Chicago O’Hare

The aprons at Chicago-O’Hare Airport can accommodate 15 wide-bodied cargo aircraft simultaneously. If your product manufacturer or supplier is in Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, or elsewhere in the Northern United States, use Chicago O’Hare. Over 1.8 million tonnes of cargo was shipped from here in 2018-2019.

United Kingdom Airports Served: London-Heathrow, Manchester.

Chicago to United Kingdom Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo, United Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: ORD.

New York JFK

Located in Queens, New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport is 26km southeast of Manhattan. It’s a 21 square kilometer site with four runways. It’s the number one international air freight gateway in the US with close to 100 carriers operating out of the airport.

United Kingdom Airports Served: London-Heathrow, Manchester, London Gatwick, Edinburgh.

New York to United Kingdom Cargo-Only Operators: Aer Lingus Cargo, DHL Aviation, Virgin Atlantic Cargo, Delta Cargo.

IATA Code: JFK.

Denver

Denver International Airport is the largest airport in North America and the second-largest in the world. It covers a 135 square kilometer site. Cargo teams handle over 230,000 tonnes of cargo every year and the airport is home to world-leading freight firms including DHL, UPS, and FedEx.

United Kingdom Airports Served: London-Heathrow.

Denver to United Kingdom Cargo-Only Operators: United Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: DEN.

Charlotte

This North Carolina airport is regarded at the Gateway to the Caribbean. It’s just 8km from uptown Charlotte. Four runways serve a modern air freight terminal that accommodates all types of aircraft. Air shipping can be routed to the United Kingdom via direct flights into London Heathrow Airport.

United Kingdom Airports Served: London-Heathrow.

Charlotte to United Kingdom Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: CLT.

Miami

Miami International Airport sits 13km northwest of downtown Miami, close to the cities of Hialeah, Doral and Miami Springs. In 2018 the airport processed 2.3 million tonnes of air cargo. The facility is regarded as a primary connecting point for freight out of Latin America.

United Kingdom Airports Served: London-Heathrow.

Miami to United Kingdom Cargo-Only Operators: Virgin Atlantic Cargo.

IATA Code: MIA.

Other Arrival Airports in the United States

Shipa Freight can also arrange to fly your goods to the United Kingdom from the following US airports:

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

Airports of Arrival in the United Kingdom

Birmingham

A key air freight hub in Central England, Birmingham Airport is just 13km from the city center. Discharging your consignment from the US here will give you access to road and rail links that connect with destinations all over the UK. The airport has a single runway which was extended in 2014 allowing larger aircraft to land. Freight from the US will be routed here via indirect flights.

Connected Airports in the US: None.

US to Birmingham Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: BHX.

Glasgow

For consignments arriving from the US, the motorways and railroads that connect to Glasgow airport make for easy transportation across Scotland and Northern England. The airport is just 15km outside Glasgow city center.

Connected Airports in the US: Orlando.

US to Glasgow Cargo-Only Operators: Virgin Atlantic Cargo.

IATA Code: GLA.

Manchester

Manchester Airport’s two runways and 510,000 square meter world freight terminal make it the premier air cargo hub in Northwest England. It’s the fourth-busiest airport in the UK for freight and is located just 12km south of Manchester city center.

Connected Airports in US: Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, Orlando, Newark.

US to Manchester Cargo-Only Operators: Lufthansa Cargo, United Airlines Cargo, Virgin Atlantic Cargo.

IATA Code: MAN.

London Heathrow

This is the UK’s premier air cargo hub, situated to the west of London. The airport is popular with freight forwarders due to its proximity to the massive consumer markets in South East England and the manufacturing hubs along the M4 corridor. Road and rail links to the airport are popular too, and the airport’s managers are developing new initiatives designed to reduce the time and cost of transporting goods into and out of Heathrow.

Connected Airports in the US: Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, Miami, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, San Francisco, Detroit, Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Newark, Orlando, Washington DC.

US to London-Heathrow Cargo-Only Operators: Virgin Atlantic Cargo, Delta Cargo, United Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: LHR.

Customs Clearance Procedures in the US and the United Kingdom

All trans-Atlantic shipments must be accompanied by the correct documents. Checks are carried out before departure from the United States and after arrival in the UK. All shipping between the two nations will require the following:

  • Packing list
  • Letter of credit
  • Commercial invoice
  • Tax invoice
  • Certificate of origin
  • Bill of lading

If you need more information about these documents or would like to see samples, we’ve consolidated all the details into this one page.

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

The quickest way to ship freight from the US to the United Kingdom is via passenger or cargo flights. Freight forwarders should be able to get your goods shipped by airlines in eight days. Ocean shipping takes longer. It’s 15 days from New York to London and up to 42 days from other ports in the US.

How Long Does It Take To Ship Cargo by Ocean From the US to the United Kingdom?

The samples below show the difference in shipping durations from various ports in the US:

  • New York to London Gateway—15 days FCL
  • Atlanta to London Gateway—41 days FCL
  • Chicago to London Gateway—39 days FCL
  • Philadelphia to London Gateway—41 days FCL
  • Miami to London Gateway—41 days FCL
  • Houston to London Gateway—20 days FCL
  • Detroit to London Gateway—41 days FCL
  • Charlotte to London Gateway—41 days FCL
  • Dallas to London Gateway—39 days FCL

How Long Does It Take to Ship Air Freight From the US to the United Kingdom?

As the examples below show, you should allow eight days for freight forwarders to fly goods across the Atlantic:

  • Los Angeles to London Heathrow—8 days
  • New York to London Heathrow—8 days
  • Atlanta to London Heathrow—8 days
  • Chicago to London Heathrow—8 days
  • Philadelphia to London Heathrow—8 days
  • Miami to London Heathrow—8 days
  • Houston to London Heathrow—8 days
  • Los Angeles to Glasgow—8 days
  • Denver to London Heathrow—8 days
  • San Francisco to London Heathrow—8 days
  • Charlotte to London Heathrow—8 days
  • Dallas/Fort Worth to London Heathrow—8 days

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

Pair of hands on a desk, with the left hand operating a desktop calculator and the right hand writing on a notepad with a pen

Calculating a shipping quote requires freight forwarders to take into account the following:

  • The preferred port of origin in the US
  • The port of arrival in the UK
  • Whether ocean or air shipping is chosen
  • The nature of the goods being shipped
  • The volume, size, and weight of those goods
  • Whether a port-to-door, door-to-door, door-to-port or port-to-port delivery is required

You should consider sending your goods as air freight if they:

  • Are urgently required in the UK
  • Weigh under 100kg
  • Can fit on up to three standard pallets

It’s usually more economical to send goods weighing above 100kg as sea freight. Shipa Freight does not provide quotes for shipments that weigh under 35kg.

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

Shipa Freight is a digital freight forwarding platform packed with features designed to bring simplicity to the sometimes complicated world of international shipping.

Businesses can use our online platform to:

  • Get quick quotes
  • Make online bookings and payments
  • Track every stage of their shipment
  • Arrange deliveries from port to port, door to port, port to door, or door to door
  • Access expert customs clearance advice and information
  • Benefit from 24/7 customer service delivered by the shipping experts at our parent company Agility Logistics

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

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