Shipping Guide: Shipping from the UK to the USA

The successful logistics connection of two key continents for global trade through uninterrupted shipping is a major challenge in today's turbulent logistics market. The UK and US ports are overwhelmed by a variety of transportation requests, high demand, and quality supply. Many carriers use the UK-US sea routes as the basis for their deliveries. The SeaRates team simplifies the necessary logistics operations for major global destinations. In this article, you will get answers to many questions that arise when shipping from the UK to the US.

Air and sea transportation are reliable and fast solutions for the transportation of goods from the UK to the USA. Let's consider the key differences between sea transportation in this direction, as well as the features and rules that carriers should be prepared for when planning deliveries.

One of the first steps in transportation is to find the cheapest freight rate from the UK to the US. There are many factors that affect the rate and the availability of additional fees. The SeaRates team is always ready to help you at every stage of cargo preparation and clearance.

Ready to ship from the UK to the USA? Get instant freight quotes with this helpful tool:


Costs to consider when shipping to the USA from the UK

The freight rate for your transportation will greatly vary and depend on various factors, including:

  • route
  • transportation type
  • characteristics of the cargo (type, amount, weight, and dimensions)
  • shipment’s insurance
  • time of year

The SeaRates team individually calculates and provides the best freight on the market today. You just need to pay attention to some factors:

  • Air freight is generally more expensive than shipping by vessel. However, if you need to deliver a lightweight shipment, air freight will be a cheaper option.
  • High-value goods that are subject to high insurance will increase your shipping costs.

Many of these basic rules complicate the logistics planning process. There are always IT tools for logistics to calculate the cost of shipping conveniently. Among all of them, SeaRates Logistics Explorer allows you to find freight rates for individual parameters, compare the best rates from market carriers, and book instantly, avoiding sudden cost increases. All you need to specify are the ports of departure and destination when you plan to ship your cargo and what type of cargo you are shipping.

Mostly, the cheapest option for shipping from the UK to the USA will be to ship FCL via ocean during off-peak times of the year.

How long does it take to move cargo from the UK to the USA?

Shipping cargo door-to-door from the UK to the USA could take anything up to 17-20 days, depending on your chosen port of origin and destination, what is being shipped, and the method of transportation.

Air freight is the fastest method of transportation, with cargo reaching its destination port in the USA in 6 hours.

Ocean freight transportation takes longer than air. It can take up to 29 days to ship your cargo from the United Kingdom to a destination port in the USA.

Moreover, FCL transportation is faster than LCL transportation due to the logistics involved in loading and unloading goods at both ends of the shipment.

Sea and Air freight time from UK to the USA

Sea FCL17-19 days27-29 days
Sea LCL19-21 days
29-31 days
Air Cargo6-12 hours
2-5 days

When is the best time to ship from the UK to the USA?

Seasonal factors significantly affect air and ocean freight rates, especially for FCL shipments.

The main peak seasons for freight rates are from mid-August to mid-October, in the run-up to Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. The increase in freight rates is due to high demand and a lack of space in containers. Therefore, you should take this factor into account when planning your supply chain and make shipments outside the peak season.

Does the day of the month in which you plan to ship your cargo impact the cost of the freight rate?

Shipments from the UK that are booked in the last 2 weeks of the month may be cheaper as carriers try to fill up the available space on vessels. However, the beginning of the month may be more expensive for you, as the General Rate Increase may be charged for cargo spaces.

Thoughtful advance planning should guarantee the cheapest transportation costs for you.

Cargo tariffs on shipping from the UK to the USA

We have figured out what affects the cost of your transportation. SeaRates Logistics Explorer will take all the factors into account for you and offer you a quote that fits your budget and requirements.

You only need to specify the main details of your shipment (points of departure/destination, dates, etc.), and the tool allows you to compare different options for quoting cargo transportation on this route. You will also receive information about the handling of your cargo and the transit time.

Additionally, Logistics Explorer provides a cost breakdown for each leg of the shipment to give you a handle on your budget and expenses.

UK to USA shipping rates

These are some examples of the most affordable 20-foot FCL container shipping costs from the UK to the USA.

Liverpool - Houston
From $2400Check rates
Grangemouth - Los Angeles
From $4000
Check rates
Manchester - Long Beach
From $3700
Check rates
Greenock - Chicago
From $2800
Check rates
South Shields - Louisville
From $2800
Check rates
Hull - Oklahoma City
From $2400
Check rates

*Actual rates are valid until March 31, 2024.

You can ask the SeaRates Customer Support team any questions about the freight rate you found. You can also request a customized quote for shipping. Here you will receive a quote with more details about your cargo (commodity type, HS Code, and weight). After that, SeaRates will contact you directly and offer you several options.


Container Packaging: What should you think about while packing a container

It is important to have a practical and comprehensive approach to packaging for cargo transportation. You need to consider the weight and dimensions of the cargo, as well as what kind of packaging material you need.

It's a daunting task to comprehend and calculate everything on your own, so the SeaRates Load Calculator tool provides you with a vivid 3D diagram to help you understand what your cargo will look like and how much space in the container it will need.

All you need to do is provide a few details about your shipment, including the equipment you'll need for transportation, the size of the shipment, and the shipping mode.

Finally, the Load Calculator will display how your shipment will look in the container you choose, as well as its total volume and weight.

What are the essential shipping documents that are needed to be completed?

For a successful customs clearance process for a shipment from the UK to the USA, it is necessary to properly pack and label the cargo. Having the necessary documents, such as an importation permit for certain goods, a commercial invoice, and a packing list, is also key.

Shipping documents you need include:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Bill of Lading
  • Certificate of origin
  • Letter of Credit or other payment terms

You may also need a special permit if you’re shipping certain goods, like hazardous materials.

Should I insure the container?

The SeaRates team encourages our clients to insure their cargo, as insurance may be the only protection in case of loss or damage during transportation.

You can get cargo insurance through the freight forwarding community or a third-party insurance agent. Also, be sure to contact SeaRates to find the right insurance policy for you.

The cost of insurance is usually between 0.3% and 0.5% of the value of your commercial invoice.

List of main shipping ports in the UK

Warehouse operators, suppliers, and freight forwarders – each party to the logistics process needs to find the best port for their requirements. Also, you can explore the port services and other aspects to consider when planning your transportation.

Certain ports may be better for you due to their location, customs procedures, and cargo handling volumes, or perhaps your factory has a special agreement with a particular port.

The main sea freight ports in the UK include:

The main air cargo ports in the UK include:

  • Heathrow Airport (LHR)
  • East Midlands Airport (EMA)
  • Stansted Airport (STN)
  • Manchester Airport (MAN)
  • Gatwick Airport (LGW)
  • Birmingham Airport (BHX)
  • Edinburgh Airport (EDI)
  • Glasgow Airport (GLA)

What are the major shipping ports in the USA?

Major ocean cargo ports in the USA include:

Major air cargo ports in the USA include:

  • Memphis International Airport (MEM)
  • Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport (SDF)
  • Anchorage Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC)
  • Hong Kong International Airport (HKG)
  • Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  • Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD)
  • Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
  • Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR)
  • Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW)
  • Miami International Airport (MIA)

Is it time to find an easy route from the UK to the USA?

Our team is constantly improving our IT tools for shipping and logistics services to make delivering to new destinations around the world a simple task for you.

Conquer new markets and expand your services with the SeaRates platform, which guarantees you the most convenient route at the best price. We are committed to helping you navigate the complexities of the market so you can focus on growing your business.

You can always contact us at for assistance with your logistics needs.

Sophia Shkuro is a content manager from Dnipro, Ukraine. Believes that the more complex a thing is, the easier it should be to write about it. Dreams of a future vacation by the sea.