How to ship from Vietnam to the USA

Oct 13, 2021 Lilia Khovrak Lilia Khovrak

Since trade agreements were signed by Vietnam and the USA in 2001 and 2007, shipping from Vietnam to the USA has been mounting; trade between the two countries was worth $81 billion in 2019. Vietnam is an increasingly attractive location for trade, in an advantageous location with a long coastline and large workforce. 

If you choose to ship your goods between these two countries it’s important to know the costs of shipping, how, when and where to ship to, and how to pack your container to make the shipping process as smooth as possible. 

This SeaRates blog can help you understand these aspects of shipping so that you fully understand the shipping from Vietnam to the USA cost to you and your business. It can also help you clear up any confusion regarding the necessary documentation for custom clearance and should you choose to obtain cargo insurance, how you should go about doing that.

The costs of shipping from Vietnam to the USA can vary greatly depending on your chosen method of transportation, your choice of port of origin and destination, the amount of cargo you need to transport, the time of year and whether you choose to have cargo insurance. 

For instance, LCL shipping (less than container load) is cheaper than FCL shipping (full container load) and can reduce the cost of shipping for your business if the amount of cargo you want to transport won’t fill a full container.

SeaRates has an Online Freight Marketplace that can show you the best freight rates. SeaRates can also help you to get in touch with freight forwarding specialists, who can help you to decide how to transport your cargo in a way that will reduce the cost of shipping from Vietnam to the USA as much as possible.

How long does it take to ship from Vietnam to the USA?

The time it takes to ship from Vietnam to the USA can take as little as 1-2 days and anywhere up to 40 days depending upon the method of transportation, the amount and type of load, and your choice of origin and destination port.

As there is no direct land connection between Vietnam and the USA, air freight and ocean freight are the available options for shipping from Vietnam to the USA.

If your shipment is large and time not an issue, ocean freight can be a good option as the transit times are slower and so less costly than air freight. Ocean freight can take anywhere from 20-40 days, depending on whether you choose to ship to the East or West coast. For instance, it is much quicker to ship to the West coast of the USA, to ports such as in Los Angeles and Long Beach, than to ship to the East coast ports such as Charleston, Philadelphia or Baltimore.

Times can also depend on whether you choose FCL shipping or LCL shipping. LCL shipping can often be slower than FCL shipping because the goods must be consolidated at the origin port and deconsolidated at the destination port.

The fastest option is air freight, which is a good choice for those who need shipments to be delivered quickly, as transit times can take as little as three days. Yet because of the speed of transit, the costs will be higher. Express options are available for air freight as well and can reduce the transit time to 1-2 days.

Vietnam to the USA, port to port
Sea Freight (FCL)
24-29 days
Sea Freight (LCL)
18-38 days
Air Freight
3-8 days

When is the Best Time to Ship from Vietnam to the USA?

When aiming for the cheapest shipping from Vietnam to the USA, the time of year can make a big difference to cost. Seasonal factors and peak seasons can affect freight rates, especially for FCL shipping. 

When shipping from Vietnam to the USA, peak season generally tends to fall in the Autumn months as businesses prepare for Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year.

As demands increase, container space is lower and so more expensive, so you should consider that shipping outside this period could reduce the logistical costs for you and your business.

What are the rates for shipping from Vietnam to the USA?

Shipping rates can vary depending on how much you want to transport and the method chosen.

The SeaRates Online Freight Marketplace can quote shipping rates for you. All you need to do is enter your chosen ports of origin and destination and method of transportation, and SeaRates will give you an idea of shipping rates, helping you to find the cheapest shipping from Vietnam to the USA. 

If you need a more specific quote tailored to your individual needs, SeaRates also provides the option to ‘request a quote’. After putting in some information about your cargo and transport methods, you also have the option to add additional services such as cargo pick up and delivery, port fees and freight forwarding fees, cargo insurance and customs clearance, helping you to have a better understanding of the overall cost of shipping.

What do you need to think about when packing your container?

There are many things to consider when packing your container, such as your cargo’s weight and dimensions.

SeaRates’ Load Calculator can be a valuable tool to better understand what your shipment will look like and how much space it will require. This will help you optimise your use of a container for the cheapest shipping from Vietnam to the USA.

The Load Calculator will ask your chosen method of transport, your packaging type and dimensions and the type of container, which you can enter in manually if you have special requirements.

After you have entered this information, the calculator will produce an image of what your cargo will look like in its container and the total volume and weight.

You should also take into consideration that there might be certain restrictions or a complete ban on certain products when shipping from Vietnam to the USA, and this can also vary depending on which US state you choose to ship to. You should carry out the necessary research for your cargo to check if any of these may apply.

What are the essential documents that need to be completed when shipping from Vietnam to the USA?

Having the right documents completed and ready can speed up the shipping process and help to avoid any unwanted delays during the customs clearance process in the USA. 

When shipping from Vietnam to the USA, the documents you will need are;

- A certificate of origin

- A commercial invoice

- A packing list

- A bill of lading (ocean freight) or an Airway Bill (air freight)

- A letter of credit or other payment terms

You will also need to determine the HS (harmonised system) code of your cargo, which helps identity and classify imports and exports.

Should you insure your container? If so, how?

Cargo insurance can provide a safety net for losses to your business should your cargo be damaged or lost in transit. Depending on what cargo insurance policy you choose, it can also cover other risks such as fires, fraud, theft or a crash.

SeaRates, therefore, encourages its customers to insure their cargo at all stages of transportation for added protection in case anything should go wrong.

You can obtain cargo insurance either through the freight forwarding community or a third-party shipping insurance agent. If you need help finding the appropriate cargo insurance policy for you and your business as well as insurance rates, SeaRates can also help with this.

The price of cargo insurance will depend on the amount of risk it covers, but costs are generally in the range of 0.3% to 0.5% of the Commercial Invoice value.

What are the major shipping ports in Vietnam?

There are several major shipping ports to choose as a port of origin in Vietnam.

The major ports are;

Hai Phong (Northern Vietnam)

Da Nang (Central Vietnam)

Quy Nhon (Central Vietnam)

Ho Chi Minh (South Vietnam)

But there are several smaller ports you have the option to ship from, including;

Cai Lan


Quy Nhon

Binh Duong Port

Tan Cang

Vung Tau

What are the major shipping ports in the USA?

There are numerous major shipping ports to choose from in the USA as your destination port. 

Major ocean cargo ports:

East Coast 

- New York

- New Orleans

- Savannah

- Mobile

- Philadelphia

- Houston

- Norfolk

West Coast

- Los Angeles

- Oakland

- Seattle

Major air cargo ports:

- Los Angeles

- Denver

- Houston

- Cleveland

- San Francisco

Lilia Khovrak is a professional content manager from Odessa, Ukraine. Loves life by the sea. Dreams to see Paris and eat a croissant on the thresholds of Notre Dame de Paris. Hates to read meaningless articles.

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