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Ocean and Air Shipping From Vietnam to the US

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After the end of the Vietnam War, the US 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 picked up the pace quickly.

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 maneuvering the complexities of ocean and air freight shipping can be treacherous. That is why we have summarized the essential information that you need to successfully ship freight from Vietnam to the US right here on this page.

How to Ship Ocean 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

The US and Vietnam have an ample amount of ports, making sea freight a great option to transport your cargo across the Pacific Ocean. In most cases a specialised cargo vessel will carry your freight in a container from Vietnam to the US. If you plan to ship break-bulk materials that won’t fit into a container, your carrier will advise which other options you have.

When it comes to containerized ocean shipping, you have two alternatives to choose from: FCL and LCL. FCL stands for full container load, meaning that you are renting an entire container for your exclusive use.

LCL stands for less than container load, meaning that you are hiring space in a shared container. Which alternative you choose will depend on the weight, volume, and nature of your goods. We have documented both options in detail to help you make the right choice to meet your port-to-port or door-to-door ocean shipping needs.

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

In many instances, LCL is the most economical way to import from Vietnam to the US. LCL is perfect for you if:

  • You plan to ship smaller 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 an option for you.
  • You don’t mind that your cargo will be right next to the consignments of other shippers in the same container.

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

With that being said, LCL might be not the right choice if:

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

    Learn more about Less than Container Load on our dedicated page on LCL shipping.

Full Container Load (FCL) From Vietnam to the US

Sending an entire shipping container from Vietnam to the US has many advantages. It can be even cheaper than LCL in some cases. In general, FCL is right for you 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 heavy or delicate cargo.
    Learn more about Full Container Load on our dedicated page on FCL shipping.

Cargo Ports of Origin in Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City

Port Facts:

  • Also known as Saigon port.
  • Network of ports located on the Saigon river.
  • 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.
  • Main port for Vietnam’s north.
  • 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:

  • 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:

  • 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 right 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 km 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 choice 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

Air Freight From Vietnam to the US

Even though there are no non-stop flights between Vietnam and the US, air shipping 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.

Air freight is the best choice 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 small, light consignments of a few pallets or less.
  • Speed is more important to you than costs.
  • The cargo’s shipper and recipient are both based close to an international airport.
    Learn more about Air Freight on our dedicated page by clicking here.

Airports of Origin in Vietnam

Hanoi

Airport Facts:

  • Officially called Noi Bai International Airport.
  • Largest airport in Vietnam for total capacity.
  • Located 45 km 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.
  • Busiest airport in Vietnam.
  • Located 6 km 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 U.S. 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:

  • Handles more than two million tons of freight per year.
  • 15th busiest airport in the world for cargo in 2018.
  • 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.
  • Can accommodate 15 wide-bodied cargo aircraft at the same time.
  • Located 23 km northwest from 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 km south of downtown Atlanta.
  • International gateway to the southern United States.
  • Features extensive 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

Customs Clearance Procedures in Vietnam and US

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

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

What you do have to provide, though, are the required documents. Typically, the customs authorities in the respective countries will ask for the following:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Certificate of Origin
  • Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
  • Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (provided by a freight forwarder like Shipa Freight)

If further documents are required your freight forwarder will advise you. Except for the Bill of Lading or Airway Bill, the above documents will be provided by the exporter (shipper) and the importer of the goods. Your freight forwarder will issue the Bill of Lading or Airway Bill.

Check out our documents list to learn more about these documents and view examples.

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 subjected 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 you have to reach the East Coast. In general, you can expect durations anywhere between 20 and 39 days.

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

Here are a few examples of transit times for routes that Shipa Freight operates between Vietnam and the United States:

  • Haiphong to Los Angeles – 20 days FCL
  • Haiphong to Long Beach – 22 days FCL, 20 days LCL
  • Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles – 30 days FCL
  • 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

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 United States:

  • Ho Chi Minh City to Los Angeles – 2 days
  • Ho Chi Minh City to New York JFK – 3 days
  • Hanoi to Chicago O’Hare – 4 days
  • Hanoi to New York JFK – 5 days
  • Hanoi to Los Angeles – 5 days
  • Hanoi to Dallas/Fort Worth – 6 days

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:

  • Nature of goods
  • Chosen mode of transport (FCL, LCL, Air)
  • Weight of the cargo
  • Dimension of the cargo
  • Distance between origin and destination
  • Type of service (such as Port-to-Port, 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. Simply opt for the quicker option. For consignments above 100 kg, sea freight is typically more economical than air freight. Planning to ship cargo of 35 kg or less? Then we would advise you to engage an international courier service instead of a freight forwarder. Shipa Freight doesn’t ship cargo in this weight bracket.

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 in your supply chain.

The Shipa Freight benefits in a nutshell are:

  • 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.
  • Guarantee 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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