Everything You Need To Know About Shipping From India to the US

Jan 28, 2021 Lilia Khovrak Lilia Khovrak

India and the United States have enjoyed strong trade relations for decades. Between 1999 and 2018, trade in goods and services between the two countries has grown from $16 billion to $142 billion. By 2019, the US had surpassed China to become India's top trading partner, and today bilateral trade stands at a healthy $88.75 billion. 

The Growth of India-US Trade

Source: Council on Foreign Relations 

If you’re planning to ship from India to the US, you’ll need to learn how to navigate the intricate freight networks covering air and sea. You’ll need to be aware of customs regulations, which can be complex for the uninitiated. The shipping cost from India to the US can also vary based on the type of cargo and mode of transport. 

If you are new to trading between the two countries, SeaRates.com can provide the tools and products you need to make your shipping journey from India to the US smooth and easy. 

Are trade restrictions in place between India and the US today? 

India and the US have been among the worst affected nations during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, goods and services still flow between the two countries, in fact, trade relations have grown stronger. This is down to a partnership that saw the two countries supply critical medication to combat Covid-19. Under President Joe Biden, the relationship is expected to grow even more, as both nations look to jumpstart their economies once again. 


Source: Trading Economics 

Ocean and air freight

There’s no question that 2020 had a dramatic impact on freight rates and transport times, but the choice between ocean and air freight is still based on key factors like time, cost and shipment size. Your decision on whether to transport your cargo by air or sea, however, will likely be based on the goods being moved. 

Shipping by sea 

In 2019, the top imports by sea to the US from India included:

  • Machinery and boilers ($3.28bn)
  • Vehicles ($2.79bn) 
  • Organic chemicals ($2.89bn) 

If you choose to ship by sea, you’ll need to select the right container load for your cargo. Your two main choices are: Full-container load (FCL) shipping, and; less-than-container load (LCL) shipping. If your cargo isn’t large enough to occupy an entire container, it will be loaded into a container with other shipments. You can contact our team at SeaRates for assistance with LCL and FCL shipments.


Shipping by air 

India is currently the 9th largest partner of the U.S. when it comes to goods trading. In 2019, U.S. goods imports from India totaled $57.7 bn, which was up by 6.3% from 2018. India is also the 14th largest supplier of agricultural imports for the U.S.

The top import categories in 2019 included: 

  • Precious stones and metals ($10.73bn) 
  • Electronic equipment ($2.13bn) 
  • Pharmaceutical products ($7.6bn)
  • Rice ($230m)  

Shipping by air will get your cargo to its destination much faster, but how much will it cost you? International airfreight can range from $2.50-$5.00 per kg, depending on the type of cargo that is being transported. There may also be potential fuel surcharges and airport transfer fees which affect the final price. You can find and compare airfreight costs via the Online Freight Marketplace at SeaRates.com. 

Shipping costs
from India to US

The shipping cost from India to the US depends on the type of cargo, weight, distance and mode of transport. 

Although shipping by sea means a slower delivery time, it is typically the only cost-effective choice for large shipments. For low-cost shipping from India to the US, we recommend avoiding the peak season and major holidays. You can access our Online Freight Marketplace on SeaRates.com to compare the best available rates for both sea and air freight costs

Shipping time 
from India to the US

The time it takes to ship ocean freight from India to the US depends on whether your shipment is being transported across the Atlantic or Pacific ocean. Shipping from Mumbai Port to the Port of New York takes 26 days. To the Port of Los Angeles on the US West Coast, shipments can take 35 days to arrive. 

Air freight, naturally, offers faster delivery times, making it an ideal choice for small or lightweight shipments. 



Top Shipping Ports in India in 2020: 

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust - Nhava Sheva: The country’s largest container port and handles almost 55% of the total container cargo that passes through India. 
  • Mumbai Port: The largest port in India by size and mainly deals with bulk cargo. It has four jetties for handling petroleum products, liquid chemicals, textiles and more.  
  • Chennai Port: The second largest container port in the country and the port deals with more than 60 million tonnes of cargo. It offers direct connections to more than 50 ports globally. 
  • Port of Kolkata: It is one of the largest riverine ports and is split into the Kolkata Dock System (KDS) and the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC). The HDC has jetties and berths for dealing with a variety of shipments.
  • Port of Mundra: The port primarily deals with containers and bulk cargo and currently has the capacity to handle 5 million TEUs. Shipments that pass through the port include liquid bulk, automobiles and minerals. 

Top Shipping Ports in the US in 2020: 

  • Port of Los Angeles: The leading container port in the US and comprises both passenger and cargo terminals. 
  • Port of Long Beach: The country’s second-busiest container port is a leading gateway for US-Asian trade. It consists of six container terminals and an intermodal rail service. 
  • Port of New York: It is the busiest container port on the US East Coast and provides access to the US Midwest and Northeast markets. It consists of six containers that can deal with nine 14,000 TEU vessels at once. 
  • Port of Houston: Deals with nearly two-thirds of all the containerized cargo in the US Gulf of Mexico.
  • Port of Savannah: It consists of the largest single-terminal container facility in North America and has two deepwater terminals. It also offers interstate connections to key cities in the US Southeast and Midwest. 

Essential documents to ship from India to US

Our managers at SeaRates can help you make sure that your paperwork for the shipment is accurate and complete. Here are the key documents to keep in mind when shipping cargo to the US:  

  • Inward Cargo Manifest: A list of all the items that are present in the shipment. 
  • US Customs Invoice: Contains details about the country where the product is manufactured, along with value and description of goods. 
  • Packing List: Contains details about the cargo dimensions, total volume, and contact information of the buyer and seller. 
  • Commercial Invoice: Proof of payment between the buyer and the seller for a shipment. 
  • Bill of Lading or Air Waybill: The Bill of Lading is considered to be a legal receipt that is issued by the carrier for ocean freight. An air waybill serves the same purpose for air freight and is issued by the airline. 

Freight insurance

At SeaRates we highly recommend you use cargo insurance for all your air and ocean shipments. Working with a freight forwarding agent will help you to avoid any major issues but it is still important to insure your shipment. 

SeaRates can help you find the right insurance company for your cargo. You can talk to one of our managers about the best available options today. 

Book with SeaRates.com
from the UAE to India 

Now you should be familiar with everything you need to know about shipping from India to the US. Our support team at SeaRates can assist with anything you need for your shipment, and our account managers can answer any questions you may have along the way. 

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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.