Shipping from UK to US: Duration, Documents & Major Ports

The process of international shipping can be tedious and complicated. All parties involved have to make sure that the shipment complies with all the regulations for exports and imports. As with other countries, both the United Kingdom and the United States have their own set of rules when it comes to shipping.

Shipping from UK to US can be done through any of the three different modes of transport, which are ocean freight (Full Container Load or Less Container Load), air freight and express freight (small shipments).

You can visit to connect with global freight forwarders who can assist you with sea freight from UK to US.

Shipping time from UK to US

The time to ship containers from UK to US depends on several factors. You’ll need to consider the mode of transport (air or sea), the shipment’s size, the port of origin and final destination, as well as the season.

Here are the main routes for shipping air freight from UK to US in 12 hours:

Airport of Origin
Destination Airport
Approximate Duration
London Heathrow
New York
8 Hours
New York
7 Hours
New York
8 Hours
London Heathrow
10 Hours

Here are the main routes for shipping ocean freight from UK to US in two weeks:

Port of OriginDestination Port
Approximate Duration
New York
11 Days
London Gateway
New York
15 Days
New York
15 Days

You can contact one of our managers on SeaRates to get the best costs for shipping containers from UK to US by air or sea.


Selecting the right container for shipping from UK to US

It is important to first figure out if your cargo needs to be shipped as a Full Container Load (FCL), Less Container Load (LCL) or in Bulk. You can request quotes on our online freight marketplace for each of these shipping types. To receive the quotes on each, all you need to do is provide the shipment details, including the type of delivery and total weight of your cargo.

Packing your container to ship from UK to US

Once you’ve selected the right type of container based on your shipping needs, you’ll need to optimise the space for your cargo to ensure that the items will be stuffed properly.

Our SeaRates’ Load Calculator is a web-based tool that allows you to input the details of your cargo and simulate in 3D how the items will be packed into the container. This option is available for both standard preset sizes or you can customize it according to the vehicle size.

You can start by selecting the type of package (boxes/crates, bags or barrels) and then fill in the parameter details for each package. Once the palletizing option and transport unit have been defined, you will be able to view the 3D simulation of how the goods will positioned inside the container.

Required documents to ship from UK to US

SeaRates managers can guide you through the paperwork at each stage of your shipment. When it comes to international shipments, there are a number of different documents that are required as part of the procedure, including the following:

  • Commercial Invoice: Indicates proof of payment between the exporter and importer and is required for customs clearance. The invoice should include the total sale amount, contact information of the buyer and seller, the Bill of Lading or Airway Bill number, and other details.
  • US Customs Invoice: Contains information about the type of goods being imported, the value of the commodity and exporter’s identity. It is meant to be provided to the shipping carrier.
  • Inward Cargo Manifest: Lists all the goods in an incoming shipment.
  • Bill of Lading: Issued by the shipping carrier as proof of the shipment’s receipt. It contains details on the goods being shipped and the final destination. The Bill of Lading must include signatures from the authorised shipping carrier, shipper, and receiver.
  • Packing List: Detailed list of the items being shipped. It includes the unit numbers, dimensions, and total weight. It is important to ensure that the packing list also contains information on the shipper, the delivery address, and the commercial invoice.

Insuring your container to ship from UK to US

We always recommend that you insure your cargo while at sea. As the owner of the goods, you will be compensated for any loss or damage which might incur during transit. The rate of insurance depends on the amount of risk covered by the policy or it depends on the type of carriage.

SeaRates can give you a breakdown of insurance policies to help you make the right choice for your shipment. You can contact our support team to speak with a manager regarding the available options.

Busiest Trade Lanes for UK Shipping

Due to a strong trade relationship between the UK and US, most of the major shipping carriers offer ocean freight services for shipping between the two countries. SeaRates works with many trade lanes, including the following five which are among the busiest for ocean freight from the UK:

  • Felixstowe to Baltimore (United States)
  • Felixstowe to Savannah (United States)
  • Felixstowe to Norfolk (United States)
  • Southampton to Rotterdam (Netherlands)
  • Southampton to Le Havre (France)

Top 3 Major Ports for Exporting from the UK:

1. Port of Felixstowe: The busiest container port in the UK deals with 48% of Britain’s containerised trade. More than 15 shipping lines operate from Felixstowe, which offers services to and from almost 700 ports worldwide.

2. Port of Southampton: This passenger and cargo port is fewer than 100 miles from Europe’s mainland and also has direct links to the railway network, providing access to freight and passenger trains.

3. Port of London: The UK’s second largest port handles around 10% of the UK's commercial shipping trade. In addition to containers, the Port of London also processes other cargo, including vehicles, crude oil, metals, as well as other forms of dry and wet bulk.

Top 3 Major Ports for Importing in the US:

1. Port of Los Angeles: Also known as America’s Port, this is the busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere. It is ranked the 19th busiest port globally when it comes to container volume. The Port of Los Angeles contains both passenger and cargo terminals, including cruise, automobile, and breakbulk.

2. Port of New York: This port is part of the port-district of the New York-Newark area, and deals with some of the heaviest imports and exports like essential industrial goods and other industrial surplus.

3. Ports of Seattle and Tacoma: These Washington State ports are operated by the Northwest Seaport Alliance. With annual container traffic reaching over 3.47 million TEUs, these two ports form one of the largest gateways to the Midwest, East Coast and Asia.

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.