Shipping from the UAE to the USA: the options facing exporters

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and United States of America are significant trade partners, with multi-billions in trade taking place between the two countries every year.

According to Comtrade data1 for 2019, the US is the seventh largest partner accounting for 1.6% of the UAE’s total exports, and although the Covid-19 global pandemic saw export figures drop, trade between these two countries is one of the fastest growing.

There are lots of things to consider when shipping from the UAE to the USA, not least the costs involved and the time it takes, depending on which of the 50 states you are shipping to.

SeaRates can help you with the best time to ship, the route for air and ocean freight, what essential documents are required, and the cheapest shipping from the UAE to the USA.


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

When it comes to moving goods between two large countries such as the UAE and USA, there are two main options for exporters – shipping by air or by sea.

The method you choose will depend largely on the speed at which you need the goods to arrive in the USA, the quantity of goods, and your budget. The SeaRates Logistics Explorer can help you get the best value based on your specific requirements.


Shipping by air

Air freight, for example, is more direct and a shipment from Dubai to New York can take as little as two days. Generally speaking, though, it takes an average of four to six days to ship from the UAE to the USA by air.

This option is great for perishable goods, or for shipments that are made up of fewer than three pallets. Shipping by air also offers slightly better protection in the form of airline and airport security protocols for high value goods.

There are four major airports in the UAE that can ship goods to the USA – Dubai International; Dubai Al Maktoum; Abu Dhabi; and Sharjah. Between them they can ship to roughly 15 of the major US airports, with Dubai International operating flights to the most.

  • Dubai International: Emirates SkyCargo serves Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Newark, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle/Tacoma and Washington DC airports.
  • Dubai Al Maktoum: Emirates SkyCargo serves Chicago-O’Hare, Houston International and New York JFK airports in the USA.
  • Abu Dhabi: Etihad Crystal Cargo serves Chicago-O’Hare, Los Angeles, New York JFK and Washington DC airports
  • Sharjah: DHL Aviation serves Cincinnati airport.

For those with a particular budget in mind, this is not the cheapest way to ship from the UAE to the USA and consideration should be given to shipping via ocean freight.


Shipping by sea

Ocean freight is much more suitable to those wanting a more cost effective solution to shipping from the UAE to the USA, mostly because you can choose between a less than container load (LCL) and a full container load (FCL).

LCL shipping is where your goods form part of a shared container on a cargo ship. It is the most cost-effective way of shipping from the UAE to the US for most businesses. However, for those that want the exclusive use of a container, FCL shipping would be the ideal option as this involves paying a flat fee for a container that you can fill with the goods you are planning to ship.

If you are planning to ship large quantities to the USA from the UAE, the FCL shipping option is likely to be the fastest and cheapest way to ship. However, you must bear in mind that shipping goods by ocean freight takes considerably longer – between 35 and 60 days on average – than air freight.

It is also worth making a note of public holidays in both countries as some freight handlers don’t operate on these days or will charge substantially more for shipping.

SeaRates can help you want to find out more about LCL shipping and FCL shipping.


Major shipping ports in the UAE and USA

  • Khor Fakkan, Sharjah
  • Jebel Ali, Dubai
  • Khalifa, Abu Dhabi
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Norfolk, Virginia
  • Houston, Texas
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Port Everglades, Florida


The benefits of freight forwarders

If you are not used to sorting out all the logistics, or simply want to outsource it as it makes better business sense, freight forwarders are a great tool. In simple terms, a freight forwarder is a third party that you hire to organise the transportation of your goods from the UAE to the USA.

In most circumstances, hiring in a third party doesn’t make financial sense, but when it comes to shipping from the UAE to the USA, using a freight forwarder can save a company money.

SeaRates can help you connect with a freight forwarder, but they are typically only used for loads that weigh more than 35 kilograms.


What costs are involved in shipping from the UAE to the USA?

The costs of transporting goods across seas or by air vary and depend on the weight, dimensions, and volume of the cargo, as well as the distance and the method of the shipment.

However, the SeaRates Logistics Explorer provides access to global freight rates which will help in keeping those costs low and ensuring that the method of shipping is the most efficient.

For example, you will find through the SeaRates Logistics Explorer that the cost of transporting less than 100 kilograms by ocean or by air is negligible. However, for larger shipments of more than 100 kilograms, it will cost significantly more to transport it via air freight than ocean freight.


*Actual rates up to 1 August 2021.


CURRENCY
20ST*
DESTINATION/DIRECTION
TRANSIT TIME
USD
6276
Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles
35
USD
6127
Jelel Ali-Los Angeles
39
USD
3540
Jebel Ali-Georgetown
63
USD
6222
Jebel Ali-Jacksonville
41
USD
6222
Jebel Ali-Savannah
51
USD
6662
Jebel Ali-Newark
48
USD
6662
Jebel Ali-Norfolk
50
USD
6437
Jebel Ali-Reno
37
USD
6437
Jebel Ali-San Diego
42
USD
6437
Jebel Ali-San Francisco
37
USD
6437
Jebel Ali-Tacoma
43
USD
6437
Jebel Ali-Seattle (Wa)
61
USD
6662
Jebel Ali-Miami
50
USD
6662
Jebel Ali-Mobile
70
USD
6662
Jebel Ali-New Orleans
70
USD
6662
Jebel Ali-Oklahoma City
70
USD
6662
Jebel Ali-Port Everglades
50
USD
8241
Jebel Ali-Salt Lake City
41


*Actual rates up to 1 August 2021.


CURRENCY
40ST*
DESTINATION/DIRECTION
TRANSIT TIME
USD
6706
Abu Dhabi-Los Angeles
35
USD
6548
Dubai-Los Angeles
39
USD
6313
Jelel Ali-Los Angeles
39
USD
6313
Jebel Ali-Georgetown
63
USD
7398
Jebel Ali-Jacksonville
41
USD
7398
Jebel Ali-Savannah
51
USD
7398
Jebel Ali-Newark
48
USD
7398
Jebel Ali-Norfolk
50
USD
7653
Jebel Ali-Reno
37
USD
7653
Jebel Ali-San Diego
42
USD
7653
Jebel Ali-San Francisco
37
USD
7653
Jebel Ali-Tacoma
43
USD
7653
Jebel Ali-Seattle (Wa)
61
USD
7923
Jebel Ali-Miami
50
USD
7923
Jebel Ali-Mobile
70
USD
7923
Jebel Ali-New Orleans
70
USD
7923
Jebel Ali-Oklahoma City
70
USD
7923
Jebel Ali-Port Everglades
50
USD
9753
Jebel Ali-Salt Lake City
41


Making the most of the space: how to pack your container

When it comes to getting the best value for money, there is more to consider than simply rates and fees associated with shipping from the UAE to the USA.

It is equally as important that you optimise the packing of your cargo, as this will, hopefully, lead to a further reduction in costs. The SeaRates Load Calculator can help you with this, ensuring that you get the most out of every shipment you make.

Cargo insurance is also an important factor, and highly recommended, when it comes to shipping from the UAE to the USA. It isn’t mandatory but does compensate you for any financial losses which can happen at any point during the shipment process. Risks to your cargo include a crash, fire or natural disaster, theft or damage by a third party, for example.

When evaluating cargo insurance, buyers should remember that the cost reflects the level of risk being covered. SeaRates can help you decide which level of insurance best suits your shipment.


What documents will I need when shipping from the UAE to the USA?

Once you have decided on the method of shipping, agreed on a rate, and got your cargo insurance in place, you will need to make sure that you have all of the documentation in place that is required to get customs clearance and ensure your goods reach their destination.

Regardless of what you are shipping from the UAE to the USA, you must comply with the customs rules. If you have hired a freight forwarder, they would handle the responsibility of getting the required documents in order. However, the buck stops with you as the cargo owner so it is important that you make sure all of the information is complete and ready to accompany your shipment, otherwise you may not be granted customs clearance.

When shipping from the UAE to the USA, the customs documents you will usually need are:

  • A commercial invoice
  • A packing list that declares everything being shipped
  • A certificate of origin
  • A confirmation letter of payment terms or credit
  • A loading bill for ocean freight or an airway bill for shipping by air

Finally, it is worth taking some time to check the legal restrictions that exist in the USA. There are some rules governing the types of goods that you can ship to the USA from the UAE, such as counterfeit products, weapons, soil or livestock, pornographic material and medications containing certain prohibited substances.

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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