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Ocean and Air Shipping From Vietnam to the US [Updated: Aug 2021]

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

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After the end of the Vietnam War, the USA and Vietnam did not engage in any economic relations for two decades. Bilateral trade was only re-established in the 1990s and grew slowly at first. After the two countries signed trade agreements in 2001 and 2007, the increase in imports and exports rapidly picked up pace.

In 2018, Vietnam was the United States' 12th-largest supplier of goods. Imports from Vietnam to the US reached $49.2 billion, which accounts for 1.9% of overall U.S. imports in 2018.

If your business is looking to add to this figure or is already actively importing from Vietnam to the US, then you are in the right place. We know that the complexities of ocean and air freight shipping can be challenging. That’s why we’ve summarized the essentials for successful ocean and air shipping from Vietnam to the US right here on this page.


What Are the Options for Shipping Freight From Vietnam to the US?

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

Ocean and air shipping from Vietnam to the US are the only logical transportation options for your international supply chain. We’ll outline the advantages and disadvantages of both on this page so you can assess which works best for your business.


Ocean Freight From Vietnam to the US

Less than Container Load (LCL): To ship your commercial goods by LCL means they will be transported aboard a cargo vessel in a shared container from Vietnam to the US. It’s usually the most cost-effective way to ship smaller consignments.

Full Container Load (FCL): FCL ocean shipping gives you exclusive use of a container. Your business must pay a flat fee for the container which you can then wholly or partially fill. FCL is sometimes quicker and cheaper than LCL, especially for larger consignments.


Air Freight from Vietnam to the US

Even though there are no non-stop flights between Vietnam and the US, air freight is still by far the fastest option for your cargo. Keep in mind that it will be much more expensive than ocean freight in many cases.


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

The final cost of transporting your cargo from Vietnam to the United States depends on several factors. Freight forwarders will take into consideration the following when providing you with quotes:

  • The nature of your goods
  • The chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL, Air)
  • The weight of the cargo
  • The dimensions of the cargo
  • The distance between origin and destination
  • The type of service required (such as Port-to-Port or Door-to-Door)

Planning to ship consignments of less than 100 kg? In that case, you might find little difference between the cost of air freight and LCL ocean freight. For consignments above 100 kg, sea freight is typically more economical than air freight.

Planning to ship cargo with a total weight of 35 kg or less? If so, we advise you to engage an international courier service instead of a freight forwarder. Shipa Freight doesn’t ship cargo in this weight bracket.


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

Right now, you might be wondering how long it will take for your cargo to travel around 14,000 km from Vietnam to the United States. The transit times of ocean and air freight differ considerably.

Air freight is the fastest option, with transit times as short as two days. As there are no direct flights between Vietnam and the US, your cargo will have to transfer at least once. Also, your consignment will be subject to customs and security checks, which lengthens the overall travel time.

The transit times for ocean freight will depend on your destination. If you are planning to ship to the West Coast of the US, then your cargo will arrive quicker than if it has to reach the East Coast. In general, you can expect durations of anywhere between 20 and 39 days.


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

Here are some examples of transit times for transporting a shipping container from Vietnam to the US using ocean freight services:

  • Haiphong to Los Angeles – 20 days FCL and LCL
  • Haiphong to Long Beach – 22 days FCL, 20 days LCL
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles – 30 days FCL, 21 days LCL
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Long Beach – 24 days FCL
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Seattle – 36 days FCL
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Charleston – 39 days FCL
  • Da Nang to Philadelphia - 36 days LCL
  • Haiphong to Seattle - 31 days
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Baltimore - 36 days FCL
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Houston - 37 days LCL
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Oakland - 23 days FCL

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

Here are a few examples of transit times for typical air freight routes between Vietnam and the US:

  • Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles – 2 days
  • Ho Chi Minh City to New York JFK – 3 days
  • Hanoi to Chicago O’Hare or Dallas/Fort Worth – 6 days
  • Hanoi to New York JFK or Los Angeles – 5 days

Customs Clearance in Vietnam and the US

Customs clearance is mandatory when you export from Vietnam to the US. Most businesses don’t manage this process internally, but instead, hire an experienced freight forwarder or agent for the task. That measure ensures that all formalities are completed according to existing laws and regulations. Also, the whole process becomes less time-consuming for you.

Inspector checking containers as Shipa Freight helps with customs clearance

What you do have to manage, though, is the provision of the required documentation for customs clearance. Typically, the customs authorities in Vietnam and the US will ask for the following:

  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. A bill of lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)

If additional documents such as licenses, permits, or certificates are required, your freight forwarder will be able to advise you. To discover more about the forms and papers listed above, and to see samples of them, please visit our documents list page.


Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?


Ocean Freight

The US and Vietnam have an ample amount of ports, making ocean shipping a great option to transport your cargo across the Pacific Ocean.

In most cases, a specialized cargo vessel will carry your sea freight in a container from Vietnam to the US. Your goods are most likely to be suitable for transit in a standard container that comes in 20ft or 40ft-long variations.

Under some circumstances, though, your freight forwarder may advise that a container with ventilation, refrigeration, or other specialized facilities will be better suited to transporting your goods. If you plan to ship break-bulk materials that won’t fit into a container, your carrier will also advise which other options you have.

Another way a forwarder can assist is by helping you choose between FCL and LCL ocean services. Below, we summarize the upsides and downsides of both modes of shipping, so you can make an informed choice between the two.


Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

In many instances, LCL is the most economical way to import from Vietnam to the US, especially if:

  • You plan to ship quantities of 14 CBM or less (around six standard pallets)
  • You don’t require your goods to reach the US urgently
  • Air freight is not a feasible option for you
  • You don’t mind that your cargo will travel alongside the consignments of other shippers

However, there are also downsides to LCL shipping. This mode of transport requires the consolidation of cargo at the port of origin and its deconsolidation at the port of arrival. These essential logistics steps in the process result in an LCL shipment typically taking longer than sending a full container.

So, LCL might be not the right choice for you if:

  • Your goods are perishable, very delicate, or of high-value
  • You don’t want your consignment to be moved and handled more than necessary
  • You want your cargo to reach the US by a certain date without delays
  • You are shipping a large amount of freight or very heavy cargo

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Full Container Load (FCL) shipping is likely to be a good option for your business if:

  • You want your cargo to reach the United States as soon as possible
  • You prefer that your cargo is sealed in a container until it reaches its recipient
  • You are shipping more than 14 CBM, which is around half the load capacity of a 20ft container
  • You plan to transport very large consignments or have delicate cargo to transport

Air Freight

Air freight is likely to be the best choice for importing from Vietnam to the US if:

  • Your cargo has a short shelf-life and needs to reach its destination as soon as possible
  • You are shipping high-value cargo and require the highest levels of security
  • You want to move a small consignment, perhaps comprising just two or three pallets
  • Speed is more important to you than costs
  • The cargo’s shipper and/or recipient are based close to an international airport

Ocean Cargo Port Guide


Cargo Ports of Origin in Vietnam


Ho Chi Minh City

Port Facts:

  • Also known as Saigon port.
  • A network of ports located on the Saigon river.
  • The largest port in Vietnam.
  • 25th -busiest container port in the world.

Owned By: Saigon Newport Company.

Annual Container Volume: >6 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: VNSGN.


Vung Tau

Port Facts:

  • Situated in the province of Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu in southeast Vietnam.
  • Just 50 km away from Vietnam’s commercial hub Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Consists of the ports of Cai Mep, Phu My, Dinh river, and Ben Dam.

Owned By: Vung Tau Commercial Port J.S Co.

Annual Container Volume: >3 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: VNVUT.


Haiphong

Port Facts:

  • Established in 1876 and situated near the city of Haiphong.
  • The main port serving northern Vietnam
  • Deep-water port opened recently to accommodate larger vessels.

Owned By: Hai Phong Port Joint Stock Company.

Annual Container Volume: >1.15 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: VNHPH.


Da Nang

Port Facts:

  • Located on the Han River in central Vietnam.
  • Faces the South China Sea, one of the busiest sea trade areas.
  • Last point of the east-west economic corridor, linking Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.
  • Features two terminals and a freight warehouse.

Owned By: Danang Port.

Annual Container Volume: >600,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: VNDAD.


Qui Nhon

Port Facts:

  • A major port for the province of Bình Định.
  • Serves Vietnam’s central highlands as well as parts of Cambodia and Laos.
  • Served by more than ten direct routes to international ports.

Owned By: Quy Nhon Port Joint Stock Company.

Annual Container Volume: >130,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: VNUIH.


### Cargo Ports of Arrival in the US

Los Angeles

Port Facts:

  • The largest port in the United States.
  • Covers almost 70 km of coastline in California.
  • 20% of all cargo entering the US arrives here.
  • Facilities include eight container terminals and more than 80 cranes.

Owned By: City of Los Angeles.

Annual Container Volume: >9 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USLAX.


Long Beach

Port Facts:

  • Located next to the Port of Los Angeles.
  • Second-busiest port in the United States for containers.
  • Covers 40 km of waterfront in the city of Long Beach.

Owned By: City of Long Beach.

Annual Container Volume: >8 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USLGB.


Savannah

Port Facts:

  • Located in Georgia, 30 kilometers from the ocean on the Savannah River.
  • Boasts the largest container terminal in North America.
  • Easy access to interstate highways.
  • Best choice for importers in the East and Midwest.

Owned By: Georgia Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USSAV.


Seattle

Port Facts:

  • Has one of the largest container terminals on the west coast.
  • Redevelopment planned to increase container capacity and provide berths for larger vessels.
  • Best destination for businesses in the Northwest.

Owned By: Northwest Seaport Alliance.

Annual Container Volume: >3.5 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USSEA.


Miami

Port Facts:

  • Located between the cities of Miami and Miami Beach on Dodge Island in the Biscayne Bay.
  • Ninth-largest container port in the United States.
  • Largest port in the state of Florida.

Owned By: Multiple owners.

Annual Container Volume: >1 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: USMIA.


Other Ports in the US

Besides the five ports mentioned above, the following container gateways are suitable for importing cargo into the US from Vietnam:

  • New York
  • Houston
  • San Francisco
  • Oakland
  • New Orleans
  • Boston
  • Baltimore
  • Atlanta
  • Charleston
  • Norfolk
  • Tacoma
  • Port Everglades
  • Mobile

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide


Airports of Origin in Vietnam


Hanoi

Airport Facts:

  • Officially called Noi Bai International Airport.
  • The largest airport in Vietnam for total capacity.
  • Located 45 kilometers to the northeast of Vietnam’s capital Hanoi.
  • More than 700,000 tons of cargo handled in 2017.

US Airports Served: None.

Hanoi to the US Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: HAN.


Ho Chi Minh City

Airport Facts:

  • Officially called Tan Son Nhat International Airport.
  • The busiest airport in Vietnam.
  • Located six kilometers to the north of Ho Chi Minh City.
  • Handled over 550,000 tons of cargo in 2017.
  • A new airport is being planned, which will feature a designated cargo terminal.

US Airports Served: None.

Ho Chi Minh City to the US Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: HAN.


Airports of Arrival in the US


Los Angeles

Airport Facts:

  • Closest major US airport to Vietnam
  • 10th busiest airport in the world for cargo.
  • Handled more than two million tons of cargo in 2018.
  • Approximately 1,000 flights with cargo onboard arrive here daily.

Connected Airports in Vietnam: None.

Vietnam to Los Angeles Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: LAX.


Miami

Airport Facts:

  • 15th busiest airport in the world for cargo in 2018.
  • Handles more than two million tons of freight per year.
  • U.S. airport with the largest international freight volume.

Connected Airports in Vietnam: None.

Vietnam to Miami Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: MIA.


Chicago O’Hare

Airport Facts:

  • Third major cargo airport in the US that shipped over 1.8 million tons of cargo in 2018.
  • Has a 185,000 square meter freight terminal.
  • It can accommodate 15 wide-bodied cargo aircraft at the same time.
  • Located 23 kilometers northwest of the Loop Business District.

Connected Airports in Vietnam: None.

Vietnam to Chicago O’Hare Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: ORD.


New York JFK

Airport Facts:

  • The top airport for cargo volume entering the US.
  • Situated in the district of Queens, New York.
  • Almost 100 air cargo carriers operate out of JFK.

Connected Airports in Vietnam: None.

Vietnam to New York JFK Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: JFK.


Atlanta

Airport Facts:

  • Situated 11 kilometers south of downtown Atlanta.
  • The international gateway to the southern United States.
  • Boasts extensive cargo facilities including refrigeration and freezer units.
  • Has five parallel runways.

Connected Airports in Vietnam: None.

Vietnam to Atlanta Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: ATL.


Other Airports in the US

Aside from the five airports mentioned above, you can also fly your cargo from Vietnam to the following airports in the United States:

  • Dallas/Fort Worth
  • Charlotte
  • Denver
  • El Paso
  • Houston
  • Philadelphia
  • Seattle
  • Cleveland
  • Cincinnati
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Boston
  • Detroit
  • Sacramento

Why Ship From Vietnam to the US With Shipa Freight?

Shipping your goods safely and in time from Vietnam to the US can seem like an overwhelming undertaking. Luckily, we have made it easier than ever to satisfy your logistics needs. No matter which mode of transport you choose, our online portal lets you handle your entire shipment process conveniently in one place. There is no need to coordinate multiple agencies any more.

The Shipa Freight benefits in a nutshell are as follows:

  • Quickly receive and compare quotes online
  • Place your booking directly without losing time
  • Know which shipping documentation to prepare thanks to our integrated compliance engine
  • Conveniently manage all of your imports and exports on one platform
  • Talk to a human customer service representative 24/7 whenever you need help
  • Guaranteed compliance with shipping rules and regulations

Ready to give Shipa Freight a try? Simply fill out the form at the top of this page to get started. It’s easy and fast!

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

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