Shipping from Germany to USA

Shipping from Germany to USA -The Ultimate Guide

If you want any information about shipping from Germany to the USA, you will find it right here.

From the mode of shipping, duty to pay, cost, and incoterms, amongst other vital facts.

Ensure you read this guide before starting the process of shipping from Germany to the USA.

Let’s dive right in.

How Long it Takes to Ship from Germany to the USA

Shipping duration from Germany to the USA depends on the shipping mode that you choose for your cargo.

Airfreight is the fastest shipping mode which on average takes between one and 15 days.

It takes between 43 and 47 days for your goods to arrive at your destination port in the USA if you choose ocean freight.

The faster the means of shipping your goods, the more expensive it is.

Also, there are several limitations to the use of air transport.

If you can wait for your cargo, then the ocean is the best mode to ship your goods from Germany to the USA.

 Distance from Germany to USA

Distance from the USA to Germany

Cheapest Shipping options from Germany to the USA

You have to consider specific options when evaluating the cost factor in shipping your goods from Germany to the USA.

For instance, you have to consider the volume of goods you are shipping.

It is cheaper to ship small packages via air compared to shipping via ocean.

However, when you have a large volume of your cargo, ocean freight is more affordable to use.

You also need to check on the shipping container you are using to determine the cost factor.

LCL is generally cheaper to use if you cannot fill a container than an FCL container.

The nature of your goods also affects your shipping cost.

This is due to expenses such as insurance premiums which vary as per your goods.

Sensitive and expensive goods have a higher insurance premium compared to general cargo.

Selecting air freight for such goods attract a higher insurance premium hence increasing your shipping cost.

Ocean freight can be an expensive option considering the risks associated with it.

That is, containers falling off into the ocean is a common occurrence during shipping.

This results in a lengthy weight for insurance to pay you back, which can strain your business financially.

Another option of lowering your shipping cost is by considering off-peak season shipment.

During this season, not many importers are doing business; hence forwarders and shipping companies lower their rates.

How to handle Shipping from Germany to the USA Customs Clearance Process

A faster customs clearance process facilitates the quick arrival of your goods from Germany.

For this to happen, you must observe certain aspects of your shipping.

For instance, you have to package and label your cargo correctly.

This enables the customs authorities to identify the goods you are importing into the USA quickly.

Having proper documents in critical in facilitating your customs clearance procedure.

Such documents include importation permit for certain goods, commercial invoice and packing list.

These documents are essential in determining the duties and taxes to pay for your cargo.

Before submitting the documents, you have to ensure all the relevant information is present.

Your documents should have information like the number of your goods, value, and country of origin.

You need to understand the incoterm that you are using for your shipment to arrive in the USA.

You need to this incoterm to determine whose responsibility it is to clear with the customs when the goods arrive in your port of destination.

Goods to Ship from Germany to the USA

Various goods are available for shipping from Germany to the USA.

However, goods that have a high shipping demand include:

  • Machinery including electrical and farm machinery
  • Vehicles
  • Mineral fuels such as oil
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Medical apparatus
  • Furniture and prefab building materials
  • Plastics and plastic related materials
  • Gem and precious metals
  • Organic chemicals.

Courier Shipping Services from Germany to the USA

Courier services from Germany to USA

 Courier services from Germany to USA

The use of courier services from Germany to the USA is a fast way of delivering small quantities of your goods.

For instance, sending samples is easier using courier services.

The advantage you have with this method is it is easier to access and timely.

This allows you to make an informed decision of the manufacturer you want to engage in your products’ production or shipment.

Using courier services to ship your cargo is relatively cheap and secure.

This means you get exactly what you order from your supplier and at an affordable shipping price.

However, like any other shipping method, you have to pay for your taxes and duties before the customs authorities release your goods.

You also have to ensure you have all the necessary paperwork for the easy customs clearance process.

Some of the popular companies include EMS, TNT, DHL, FedEx, and UPS, just to mention a few.

Prohibited and Restricted Goods to Ship from Germany to the USA

You are not allowed to ship everything from Germany to the USA.

There are some goods that the USA prohibits you from importing there while others can do so under given restrictions.

Prohibited goods include:

  • Health and beauty products including medicines, cosmetics, veterinary products, and nutritional supplements
  • Consumer electronics including microwave ovens, TVs having cathode ray tubes and infrared tubes
  • Chemicals
  • Contact lenses and eyewear products
  • Tobacco and tobacco-related products
  • Animal products

Importing the following products requires you to have special permits.

As such, you must obtain these permits from relevant authorities in the US before you embark on your shipping.

  • Drugs that FDA prohibits
  • Distilled spirits including those with a minimum alcohol content
  • Cat and dog fur products
  • Goods that the US deem not to have originated from Germany but an embargoed country
  • Counterfeit products, including copyrights and trademark goods.

You can learn more about all these products here – Prohibited and Restricted Items

Choosing the Type of Shipping Container from Germany to the USA

Types of shipping container

 Types of shipping container

You have to consider several factors when choosing a shipping container for your goods from Germany to the USA.

For instance, you have to consider the type of your goods in terms of dimensions

If you have over-sized goods, then you might consider choosing containers such as open-ended or flatbed containers.

The condition of your goods is also a factor to consider.

If you have goods that need to remain fresh until they reach the USA, you have to consider refrigerated containers.

When shipping, you have to consider the volume of your goods.

If your goods cannot fill a container, then you may opt for an LCL container.

However, if you can fill up a container, then an FCL container should be your consideration.

Amount of Import Duty to Pay when Shipping from Germany to the USA

The import duty to pay when shipping your goods from Germany to the USA depends on factors such as:

HS Code

The HS code is critical in the classification of your goods.

This facilitates which taxes and duties to pay on your goods.

Therefore, it is essential to ensure you have the right HS code on your goods before they reach the US customs authorities.

Value of Goods

Custom authorities use your goods’ purchasing price from Germany and its insurance and freight charges to estimate the duties and taxes to pay.

All this information should reflect on your commercial invoice, which you hand it over to the authorities when your goods arrive at the port.

Goods Description

The description of your goods, including country of origin and quantity, should be precise on the package of your goods.

The description helps the customs authorities to check if there is a trade agreement with the country that allows for duty relief.

You have to ensure the description of the goods matches the HS code of the particular goods.


The incoterm you use to ship your goods defines which party holds responsible for paying for your duties and taxes.

You should select an incoterm that is cost-effective and that saves you the hassle of customs clearance.

Incoterms to Use when Shipping from Germany to the USA

Each of the various incoterms places different parties’ responsibilities for your shipping from Germany to the USA.

Therefore, you have to know which are the best incoterms to use and what are your obligations when using them.

These incoterms are:


Using this incoterm places much of the responsibility on you as an importer.

You are required to arrange for transportation of your goods from the manufacturer’s warehouse to the port of origin.

You also have to choose a shipping method to your destination and further to your final destination.

You have to clear your goods at the customs.

The only function your manufacturer undertakes is to transport the goods to an agreed warehouse for you to proceed.

Free Carrier

Your manufacturer’s responsibility under this incoterm includes clearing your goods at the customs and loading them on a carrier.

Also, your duties include removing the goods at your port of destination and unloading them from the carrier.

You also have to arrange to transport your goods from the port of destination to your final address.

Carriage paid to

Your manufacturer’s duties end once they load the goods to a carrier, including paying for the necessary freight charges.

Besides, you have to pay for your goods’ insurance, custom clear at your destination port, and unload them.

You also have to arrange for transporting the goods to your destination.

Carriage and Insurance Paid to

This incoterm allows your manufacturer to pay for the freight charges and the insurance cost for your goods.

However, you must organize customs clearance at your destination port and make further transportation arrangements from the port.

Delivered Place Unloaded

This incoterm allows your manufacturer to undertake all the costs involved until the goods arrive at your destination.

When the goods arrive at the destination, your manufacturer unloads them for you, and the responsibility shifts to you.

Cost Insurance Freight

This is the best incoterm to use when importing your goods from Germany to the USA.

Here, your manufacturer undertakes most of the responsibilities involved in your shipping.

Such responsibilities include customs clearing your goods, loading, and unloading from the carrier.

They also handle the insurance cost for your goods during the shipment process.

This incoterm relieves you of all the duties you have to undertake when shipping your goods.

You are therefore able to invest your time and resources to other aspects of your shipping.

Free on Board

Your supplier has to deliver your goods to the port and vessel of your selection.

However, once the goods are on board the ship, all risks associated with it passes over to you.

This includes the risk of damage to the goods

You also have to cover all costs related to your cargo from this time until they arrive at your final destination.

Shipping from Germany to the USA by Air

Air shipment is a reliable method of shipping sensitive and relatively lightweight goods from Germany to the USA.

You have to consider several factors before choosing air freight.

For instance, you have to be ready to pay a higher price for using air freight than ocean freight.

If you are shipping sensitive goods such as firearms, you can consider using air freight than ocean freight for safety purposes.

The urgency of your goods can make you use air freight as opposed to ocean freight.

However, using air freight offers several benefits for your goods and your business.

 DHL Cargo plane

DHL Cargo Plane

Benefits of Air Freight from Germany to the USA

Airfreight takes days to ship your goods from Germany to the USA compared to ocean fright which takes months.

This allows you to plan for your business continuity, such as marketing as you await your goods.

Airfreight assures you of your goods’ safety since fewer external factors are affecting it compared to ocean freight.

For instance, rusting and container dropping on the ocean are part of ocean freight challenges that lack air freight.

There is a limitation as to the volume of goods you can ship using air freight.

This is advantageous since it reduces your warehousing cost, which impacts the entire shipping cost.

Most cargo airline allows for real-time tracking of your cargo.

Therefore, you have an idea of where your shipment is and when it arrives at your port of destination.

Like any other shipping options you have, air freight has its limitations.

Limitations of Air Freight from Germany to the USA

The limitation of the volume of goods you can ship using air freight means you cannot ship bulky goods.

Therefore, you have to breakbulk wand ship multiple times which is expensive, or choose a different option.

Its high cost is a limitation to many hence the need to search for an alternative shipping option.

Airfreight also limits the nature of goods that you can ship to only sensitive and urgent ones.

International Air Ports in Germany and the USA

Among the leading international airports available in Germany to ship your goods to the USA includes Frankfurt, Munich, Düsseldorf, Berlin Tegel, Hamburg and Cologne international airports.

The choice of which airport to use depends on the services they offer, proximity to your final destination, and cost.

Main international airports in the USA available for shipping your goods from Germany are Dallas, JFK international airport, Northern Kentucky and Los Angeles International Airport.

Other airports in the US include Indianapolis and Miami international airports.

The following airlines offer reliable goods shipping from Germany to the USA: Lufthansa Cargo, American airlines cargo, Air cargo Germany, federal express airline and China Southern airlines.

Among the factors to consider when selecting an airline include the route that a particular airline follows, shipping time, and shipping cost.

Ocean Freight from Germany to the USA

Ocean freight is the best option for Germany’s voluminous goods to the USA due to its relatively cheaper cost.

Ocean freight also accommodates different goods, which means you can ship items that cannot fit in an ordinary container.

Ocean freight offers other benefits aside from a cheaper cost.

Benefits of Sea Freight from Germany to the USA

Shipping via ocean freight takes longer compared to air freight.

This gives you time to plan for finances need in customs clearance and also look for customers.

Most shipping companies offer real-time tracking of your cargo.

This allows you to monitor the movement of your cargo and estimate your cargo’s arrival date.

Limitations of Ocean Freight from Germany to the USA

The slow shipping process of ocean freight is its main limitation.

This means you have to wait longer for your goods to arrive in the USA, affecting your business.

The best way to minimize this is by planning for your shipment and understand your lead time.

Sea Ports in Germany

In Germany, available seaports for shipping your goods to the USA include Hamburg port, Bremerhaven port, and Bremen port.

Sea Ports in the USA

Major seaports in the USA for receiving your imports from Germany include Los Angeles port, New York port, and Port Huston port.

Shipping companies from Germany to the USA

 MSC Shipping Lane

MSC Shipping Lane

Leading shipping companies available for shipping your goods from Germany to the US are A.P. Moller–Maersk Group, Mediterranean Shipping Company, CMA CGM Group, and China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company (COSCO).

You have to consider cost, the route a particular shipping company takes and the services they offer before engaging a shipping company.

How to Ship Dangerous Goods from Germany to the USA

A valid permit from relevant authorities is the first step towards importing dangerous goods from Germany to the USA.

You also have to package and label the goods accordingly before you ship them.

This includes using packaging material that meets the required standards.

For instance, if you are shipping flammable goods, the material should be resistant to fire or anything that can cause a fire.

When shipping of corrosive substances, you have to package and ship them in specialized shipping methods.

Labeling helps in warning people if the content of your shipment hence the need to take precautionary measures.

Information you include when labeling such goods consists of the name of the goods and how to handle it.

It would help if you also informed handlers of the safety precautions they should adhere to when handling such goods.

It is vital to ensure the manufacturer of your dangerous goods in Germany is accredited and has all the documents before engaging them.

This assures you of quality goods and ready assistance if you need it during the operation of your goods.

Shipping dangerous goods require careful handling, which implies you have to pay extra.

However, such a charge is worth the safe delivery of your goods.

 Labeling dangerus goods

Labelling dangerous goods

Benefits of using Freight Forwarder when Shipping from Germany to the USA

A freight forwarder is a critical party in ensuring efficient shipping of your goods from Germany to the USA.

You, therefore, have to engage one fore you decide on importing.

Using a freight forwarder offers several benefits, including:


A freight forwarder helps you to reduce the cost of your shipping significantly.

For instance, most forwarders have contacts with various manufacturers which works to your advantage.

This is by them showing you which manufacturer has the low price for the quality products.

You also get to enjoy their relatively affordable warehousing facilities which can be expensive when you decide to procure such services.

Another way in which a forwarder reduces your cost is by using their logistics support.

This includes utilizing their transport system from the manufacturer’s premises to your port of destination.

Procuring such services on your own can prove to be an expensive process compared to letting your manufacturer handle them for you.

Saves you the Hassle

Imagine having to go to Germany each time you are shipping your goods to the US.

The hassle of finding a manufacturer and supervising shipping your goods plus the customs clearance process.

Such activities can be exhausting and at times, frustrating, which leaves a bad taste to your shipping experience.

However, you can engage a freight forwarder’s services and wait for your shipment to arrive in your destination.

Once you engage a forwarder, they handle the entire shipping process on your behalf, saving you most of the hassles.

Such processes include supervising your goods’ transportation from your manufacturer and choosing a shipping method and custom clearance.

Frees you on Contract Management

You don’t have to worry on the particulars of a contract when you select a forwarder to handle your shipping.

This is because the forwarder engages in subsequent contacts on your behalf once you sign them to handle your shipping.

This is critical I ensuring there is a smooth shipment of your goods.

For instance, your manufacturer can handle the payment process to release your goods from your manufacturer.

Such a manufacturer understands that you have a contract with them in the end and that you will honor your payments.

They can also facilitate the customs clearance before submitting the final payment invoice to you.

Time Effective

Hiring a freight forwarder relieves you the time for traveling to Germany and supervises your shipment.

You can use this time to organize other cargo elements, including warehousing services and searching for customers.

In the long run, you increase the frequency of your shipment as well as your profit margins.

It is essential to consider the following when searching for a reliable forwarder to handle shipping from Germany to the USA.


An effective freight forwarder should offer the services you need for a smooth shipping experience.

Among the benefits, you have to check to include warehousing facilities, packaging, and transportation from your manufacturer.

Before engaging a manufacturer, you should agree with them on the services you want them to offer for your shipping.


You need to contact a manufacturer who is pocket friendly while offering all the services that you need.

To achieve this, you have to shop around and negotiate with potential clients on the best price they can provide on their services.

However, you should not compromise quality services at a low price.


The experience a freight forwarder has in shipping goods from Germany to the USA determines how they will handle yours.

Therefore, you need to check the experience in terms of their shipping routes and their goods handling procedure before selecting one.


Having a freight forwarder who has networks both in Germany and the USA facilitates your shipping experience.

Networking can be in knowing the different manufacturers of your goods and understanding the custom clearance process in both countries.


The best freight forwarder is one who informs you of your shipping process.

Information is critical in helping you understand when to expect your shipment.

This helps you plan on other processes relating to your cargo, such as finances for customs clearance.

How to Package Goods when Shipping from Germany to the USA

It is essential to properly package your cargo before shipping it from Germany to the USA.

This is to safeguard your product against various factors that may affect its quality.

Such factors include human interference and environmental factors like rusting.

The tips you can use to package your goods include:

 Packaging goods for shipping

Packaging goods for shipping

Determine the Packaging Requirement of your Goods

This involves checking various factors of your cargo to package it accordingly.

For example, you have to check on the weight of your shipment.

A heavier cargo demands you use a heavier packaging material.

In most cases, your manufacturer indicates how heavy your cargo is, which can determine the packaging material to use.

You also have to consider the dimensions of your cargo.

An ideal material should accommodate your cargo adequately while leaving space for placing cushioning material.

Understanding the value of your goods tend to determine which material to use.

Expensive and fragile goods tend to require unique packaging material that can protect them from damage.

Wrap Individual Items Separately

Packaging individual items separately is an effective way of minimizing collision with others during transit.

You have to wrap using an appropriate material that is waterproof.

Cushioning is a critical step in the packaging of your products, mostly electronics.

Among the various cushioning materials available are airbags, cardboard inserts or forms, and bubble wraps.

Sealing Material

If you are using carton boxes to package your goods, having an appropriate sealing material is essential.

Such a sealant should prevent water from sipping through your boxes, thereby interfering with the quality of your goods.

The sealant should also be strong and thick enough to hold the weight of your goods.

The use of wooden boxes requires you to nail your box appropriately to minimize interference of the goods.                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It is impossible to pack goods such as machinery inboxes.

You have to minimize its interaction with external factors such as rust during shipment in such a case.

You can use other means such as coating the machinery with anti-rust paint.

Of paramount consideration when packaging your goods is that the material adds to its overall weight.

This is important since the customs use weight to determine the amount of taxes to pay on your goods.

You, therefore, have to use the recommended material to have the right price at the customs.

Once you are through packaging your goods, you must label it well for ease of movement and safe storage.

This includes your cargo’s identity and if there any particular conditions that you want it to have.

How FCL Shipping from Germany to the USA compare to LCL Shipping from Germany to the USA



If you are importing goods that can fill a container, it is wise to use an FCL instead of an LCL shipping option.

This is because it is cost-effective in terms of the container charge and the customs clearance processes.

However, it is not a must you fill a container for you are to use FCL shipping.

In such a case, the container still has your cargo only though you pay to hire a full container.

You can also use an FCL if the cargo you are shipping is fragile and sensitive.

Shipping such a cargo via an LCL can result in its damage due to interaction with other goods.

The advantage of FCL shipping is it is secure compared to LCL.

Once you have closed an FCL container, there is no opening it until it reaches your destination.

It is quicker to ship under FCL since your cargo doesn’t stop loading and unloading along the way.

LCL is the best option to use if you are shipping a small volume of your shipment.

In this method, you only pay for the space that your cargo occupies within a container.

It works on the principles that other shippers like you occupy the other spaces hence filing up the container.

Though it is less costly in terms of the charges you pay, it has several limitations.

For instance, shipping may take longer to reach your destination due to the loading and unloading at various destinations.

There is also the risk of damaging your goods during the journey due to their interaction with other goods.

You have to consider the volume of your goods before deciding which shipping option to use.

The shipping option you select should be pocket and offer assurance of your products’ safety during the shipment process.

Documents you need to Ship from Germany to the USA

Documents play a vital role in facilitating the importation of your goods from Germany to the USA.

The customs clearance process demands that you have all the documents ready in failure, leading to a delay in clearing your goods.

Among the documents that you need include:

Commercial Invoice

A commercial invoice consists of your cargo’s particulars, including the quantity, the individual, and total purchasing price for your goods.

It also contains the country of origin, address of both your manufacturer and you.

It is from this invoice that US customs authorities use to calculate the

Packing List

You may present the packing list to the US customs authorities in the absence of a commercial invoice.

This document consists of the same information as your commercial invoice.

As a result, you have to ensure the information in the two documents match.

Special Permits

If you are importing dangerous or restricted goods into the US, you have to present a special permit.

This document authorizes you to ship such goods into the country.

You can obtain this permit from relevant authorities in the US.

Bill of Lading

This is a document that indicates the mode of shipping your goods.

You have three types of bill of landing available for your use.

An inland bill of landing indicates that the mode of transportation is either road or rail.

Airway bill of landing means that the method of shipment is via air.

Ocean/sea bill of landing indicates that the shipping method is via the ocean or sea.

US customs authorities use this document to calculate the value of taxes and duties you pay for your cargo.

Certificate of Origin

You have to accompany this document together with the others when presenting it to the customs authorities.

It helps evaluate if there are any trade agreements between the country of origin and the US, which warrants special clearance.

With this information, you can conveniently shop from Germany to the USA without any problem.

However, if you have any questions regarding shipping from Germany to the USA, Bansar team is here to help.

Contact us now for all your shipping from Germany to USA needs.

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