The UK and the US enjoy a long and fruitful trade relationship. This means UK merchants have access to many fast and affordable ways to ship to the US, including sea freight, ocean freight, and express couriers like UPS, FedEx, and DHL.
How you ship to the US depends on your shipment size, budget, and delivery timeline. If you only need to send a parcel, an express courier is your best option. But if you’re moving whole palettes of cargo or more, you may want to consider air or sea freight to save money.
In this blog, you’ll learn the various ways to ship from the UK to the US, as well as the costs and delivery speed of each transport method. Of course, we’ll also discuss duty and taxes for importing to the US.
Want a quick estimate on the cost and time of your next UK to US shipment? Try our Free Shipping Rate Calculator. This handy tool lets you compare rates from all UK express couriers that ship to the US in just seconds. Plus, it shows you the up to 70% off discounted rates you can access instantly when you use Easyship.
Here’s everything you need to know about shipping from the UK to the US.
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3 Ways To Ship From The UK To The US
UK shippers eyeing the US can use a few shipping methods to cross the Atlantic. This includes sea freight, air freight, and express shipping with courier companies like UPS or Royal Post.
Each of the following shipping methods allows you to import goods to the US:
- Express couriers: Best for smaller merchants who want to transport smaller shipments to customers.
- Sea freight: Ideal for high-volume importers, or those with heavy items. Cargo is loaded into shipping containers at a sea port and floats its way to America.
- Air freight: Used by high-volume merchants who want faster delivery than sea freight.
Your shipping method to the US will depend primarily on your shipment volume. After all, you don’t want to pay for a sea freight shipping container if you’re only sending an iPhone case. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Product load: What are you shipping? How big is it?
- Destination: Are you shipping to an end-customer or a warehouse?
- Timing requirements: Must your shipment arrive by a certain date/time, or can it wait?
Generally, sea freight and air freight are used by merchants shipping large volumes of product, or very heavy objects. If you’re sending an eCommerce order to a customer, you’ll be best served with finding the cheapest express courier service from the UK to the US.
The fastest way to scope delivery speeds and rates from express couriers is with our Free Shipping Rate Calculator.
How Long To Ship From The UK to The US?
Delivery lead times to the US from the UK hinge on several shipping factors, foremost of which is your shipping method. The fastest way to ship to the US is via express couriers, followed by air freight, then sea freight.
Every courier offers a few international delivery services, each with a different delivery lead time. The faster you want your package to arrive, the more you’ll pay for express courier services.
The following delivery speeds are available from UK express couriers to the US:
- Overnight (arrives next business day)
- 1-2 business days
- 3-5 business days
- 7-14 business days
For example, here are the Easyship delivery lead times for a 7 kg parcel sent from the UK to US.
Here we see that UPS Worldwide Express Plus offers its overnight service to the US in 1-2 business days. At £249.46, the price is steep. However, for only £42.72, P2P will get your package stateside in 2-4 business days.
UK express couriers to the US also handle the process of clearing US customs on your behalf, unless instructed otherwise. This helps your shipment breeze through customs without any hangups.
You can ship from the UK to the US in as little as 1-2 business days, depending on how much you’re willing to pay. For economy rates, you can expect delivery in 2-4 business days.
Air Freight is the second fastest way to ship from the UK to the US.
Your shipment is loaded onto a pallet then flown to the designated US port city. Typically, travel time from port to port is 6-7 days.
Next, your shipment must clear customs, which can take a couple days. You'll also need to coordinate the movement of your product from the port to its end-destination. If you’re storing cargo in a warehouse, you'll need a truck to shuttle cargo to the warehouse. Your warehousing partner will do this for you, in most cases.
All told, it can take 1-2 weeks for air freight shipments in the UK to reach customers in the US. This is because your shipment must arrive at port, clear customs, which can take a couple days, and then go out for delivery in the US.
Sea freight is the slowest way to ship from the UK to the US. As with air freight, departing shipments must be assembled at a sea port for export. Once cleared by customs to depart, it takes 2-3 weeks for a ship to reach its destination port.
All cargo must then be assessed by customs agents, and then be transported from a warehouse. All told, sea freight can take 6-7 weeks to reach the destination warehouse in the US.
The Cost of Shipping From The UK to The US
The cost of shipping from the UK to the US depends on your chosen shipping method. As expected, it costs far more to reserve cargo space on a boat than to hire a courier service transport for a single parcel. Here’s how shipping from the UK to US differs in pricing.
Every courier service sets its own rates for shipping services. Individual couriers also offer multiple services with which to ship your package from the UK to the US.
Shipping with express couriers to the US from the UK depends on the following factors:
- Shipment weight
- Delivery speed
To get the cheapest rates, start by comparing prices between courier services. For example, here are the Easyship 70% off discounted rates for shipping a 2 kg. package from the UK to the US.
Like our previous example, P2P offers the cheapest rates on shipping from the UK to the US at £26.44. UPS is also in the mix, and only slightly more expensive. You can always pay extra if you want rush delivery, or value-added features like insurance.
The following express couriers ship from the UK to the US:
To secure the cheapest rates, be sure to compare rates across couriers before you ship. You can use our handy Free Shipping Rate Calculator to instantly compile and all rates from couriers available for your shipment.
The cost of air freight depends on the weight and travel distance of your shipment.
Air freight services are priced per kilogram with cheaper rates available for higher volume shipments. For example, the going rate for air freight shipments is around $70 per kilogram. But if you ship 100 kg or more, you’ll only pay around $9 per kg. At 300 kg or more, your price is $4-5 per kg.
You’ll see slight variations in the price based on your delivery destination. Shipping from The Port of Southampton to Los Angeles costs around $1200, but shipping from Southampton to New York sits at around $1100.
Weight and delivery distance determine your rate for sea freight shipping between the UK and the US. However, sea freight costs vary by which method of sea freight you use: FCL or LCL.
Full Container Load (FCL) is a sea freight shipping method in which you pay a prorated amount for space in a shipping container. Paying for an entire shipping container can be cost-effective if you need a lot of space. As a rule of thumb, you’ll want to consider FCL shipping as your shipment nears 10 cubic meters in volume.
The average peak season rate for FCL sea freight is $2,379 from Southampton to Los Angeles, or $2,212 to New York.
Less Than Container Load (LCL) is a shipping method used if your freight shipment doesn’t fill a 20 or 40-foot shipping container. LCL is a cost-effective alternative to FCL.
The minimum space you can reserve for LCL freight is 1 cubic meter. Prices are prorated to increase as your cargo volume increases.
Say we’re shipping a 200 kg load from Southampton. To New York, the door-to-door rate averages with LCL is $739 to New York, or $705 to LA.
Import Factors From The UK To The US
Every shipment your export from the UK must clear US customs. The US customs authorities will use the customs paperwork attached to your shipment to assess whether you owe any duty and taxes.
If duty or tax is owed, either you or the receiving party will need to pay these fees to complete delivery. For eCommerce merchants, you’ll decide who pays these fees when you purchase your shipping label.
Here’s what you need to know about importing to the US from the UK.
Import Duty and Tax Payments
You may need to pay import duty and/or import tax on your shipment to the US. Fortunately, it's usually inexpensive to import to the US.
At $800, the duty threshold in the US is set high. This means you pay no import duty on a shipment valued at $800 or less. Under US legislation known as Section 321, this number was recently increased from $200 to $800.
You may also need to pay an import tax of 10% VAT/GST. This fee is based on the total value of your shipment, as shown here on our US shipping country page.
Want to pre-calculate the total duty and tax for your next shipment?
Just plug your shipment details into our Free Duty and Tax Calculator. This tool shows you the estimated duty and taxes for any type of shipment.
Here’s the duty and tax owed on a $1000 coffee table imported into the US.
This duty and tax seems high, but remember – every US import under $800 won’t incur any duty or tax.
Required Customs Documents
Every international shipment must include certain customs documents. US Customs agents will use these documents to determine the contents of your shipment, then assess the duty and tax owed on your shipment, if any.
Import shipments to the US must include:
- Commercial invoice
- Battery statement
- Tax documentation
- Shipping label
With Easyship, all your customs documents are generated automatically on your behalf when you create a shipment. This way, you never have to wonder if you got all your paperwork right. Our shipping automation makes sure your paperwork is ready before you hit “Ship.”
If you want help filling out all US customs paperwork, you can read this guide to customs paperwork.
Restricted Or Prohibited Items
Every country restricts or prohibits certain items from import. The reasons for doing so range from safety to economic stimulus. Regardless, it’s important to check that your shipments don’t contain any contraband. Otherwise, they’ll be detained at customs until you arrange for a return shipment.
Here are the restricted and prohibited items in the US, as taken from our US country shipping page.
Shipping from The UK to The US
Shipping from the UK to the US is fast and relatively cheap.
For UK eCommerce merchants shipping to US customers directly, express couriers like UPS or P2P deliver in 2-4 business days for £25-35. If you’re moving more weight, consider air freight or sea freight. These are cost-effective ways to move large quantities of inventory to warehouses in the States.
Be sure to include the US duty and tax into your cost calculations. That said, almost all shipments under $800 will clear customs without requiring you or your customers to pay any import fees.
Want to try Easyship? It’s free to create an account – plus, our all-in-one shipping platform is 100% free to use if you’re sending fewer than 100 orders per month. You’ll also instantly save up to 70% off all retail courier rates. You can create your free account here.
If you found this article valuable, you might want to check out the following:
- What’s the Cheapest Way to Send a Parcel to the UK?
- What's the Cheapest Way to Ship Internationally in 2021?
Shipping From The UK To The US FAQ
Why is shipping from the UK to US so expensive?
The average cost of shipping from the UK to the US is £25-35. Considering the parcel must cross the Atlantic Ocean, it could be worse.
How long does Royal Mail take to the USA?
Depending on your choice of service, you can ship with Royal Mail to the US in 1-2 business days, 2-4 business days, or up to a week.
How long does DHL shipping take from the UK to the USA?
Depending on your choice of service, you can ship with DHL to the US in 1-2 business days, 2-4 business days, or up to a week.
Can Amazon UK deliver to the USA?
Yes, for an added fee depending on your delivery destination.