How Long Do Shipments Take?

Understanding how long it takes to get your container to the UK is integral to any planning small businesses undertake in getting products to market. Knowing the window that your goods are going to arrive in allows you to make the necessary plans and decisions for your goods.Below, we’ve given you a guide to how long it’ll take for your shipment to be delivered from your supplier to your business premises in the UK.

Transit Times By Country

When shipping to the UK, the transit time depends on where your supplier is located in the world. It’s important to note that typically transit times are not all inclusive; they’re only inclusive of the time your goods spend on the water.

How long does it take to ship from China to the UK?

Before you look at the transit time between China and the UK, remember that there are processes at either end of the journey. Allow extra time in both countries for things like customs, delivery to and from ports, loading and unloading. We’ve included both the time your goods spend on the water and the total journey time from door to door.

Southern China – Guangzhou/Shenzhen – 23-25 days on the water. Allow a total of 6 weeks from door to door (from the supplier’s factory to your delivery address).

Central China – Shanghai/Ningbo – 28-30 days on the water. Allow a total of 7 weeks from door to door.

Northern China – Qingdao/Tianjin/Xingang – 32-35 days on the water. Allow a total of 8 weeks from door to door.

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India to the UK transit time

Although we’ll touch on the transit process later on in the post, India is a perfect example of when you need to factor in significant time outside of the on the water transit time.

Many importers that source in India purchase their goods from suppliers that are based in New Delhi. The problem with this? New Delhi is 1,000 km away from the nearest sea, which means that the goods will need to be transported to the coast before they can be shipped. This long journey adds extra time to the process before the goods even touch the water.

Western India – Mumbai – 19-22 days on the water. From Western India to the UK, door to door transit time is around 5 weeks.

Eastern India – Kolkata – 27-29 days on the water. Door to door will take approximately 6 weeks.

As a rule, the process to export goods from India can take slightly longer than other Asian countries so we would suggest adding an extra week to these transit times to be on the safe side.  If your supplier then takes a little longer to clear the goods through Indian customs then you won’t be left short of products in the UK.

Shipping from Australia to the UK

Australia is a massive country – to get from the East to the West coast takes a ship over a week! As Australia is quite literally at the other end of the world, the shipping time is usually a lot higher than the most common countries to import from. As a general rule however, it usually takes:

40-50 days on the water. Door to door delivery will often take 9 weeks.

America to the UK shipping times

If you’re importing from the USA, the difference in transit time can be stark. Depending on which coast you’re shipping from, the on the water transit time can double! Typically, these are the transit times you’ll be looking at:

East Coast – New York – 10-14 days on the water. Door to door will take around 4 weeks.

West Coast – Los Angeles – 30 days on the water. Door to door will take roughly 6 weeks.

Door To Door Transit Process

If you’re operating on a schedule or want to be able to plan around your shipment, then you’ll need to know the door to door transit time. The on the water time takes up a large chunk of this – but it’s important to understand the entire process so that you can plan around it.

Goods Are Finished In Factory

Once your supplier has manufactured your goods, they will be waiting in the factory. Depending on the shipping terms, the supplier may be responsible for arranging transportation to the port. If you’re operating on EXW shipping terms, then you will be responsible for organizing delivery to the port and the supplier will just leave the packaged goods in their factory for you to collect.

This transition between factory and port can take time too – especially if you’re buying from a land-locked supplier. This applies when shipping from suppliers in New Delhi.

Port Of New Dehli & Port Of Mumbai On A Map; New Dehli Port is Landlocked and Therefore It Costs More To Ship From New Dehli

As you can see, New Delhi is almost as far from the coast as it could possibly be – the nearest sea is 1,000km away! The goods will have to be transported from factory to port; if this is a large distance, it can take a long time.

Goods Moved to the Port

Once your goods arrive at the port from your supplier there will be about a week before they are put on the vessel. These 7 days will include clearing the goods through Customs, loading them into a shared container in a warehouse and the container being moved to the quay before being loaded onto the ship.

Time on the Sea

As you’d expect, the main time portion of the time from the goods leaving your supplier to being delivered to you is taken up by the ship working its way around the globe to its destination.

This is known as the “transit time” of the shipment but as this is often the period of time quoted by suppliers and shipping companies don’t forget that this is just the period of time on the water, not the total time from door to door.

When importing goods from Asia the transit time can vary greatly. The time it can take for a container to reach the UK can be from about 20 days (from Mumbai, India) to around 35-40 days (from Beijing in Northern China).  Typically, transit times when importing from Asia to the UK will be between 25 and 30 days.

Once the Ship has Landed

When the vessel lands in the UK the goods go through the same procedure that was performed at the port of origin but in reverse.  The container is offloaded from the ship, moved to a warehouse, your goods are unloaded, customs cleared and prepared for delivery, all of which generally takes another 7 days.

Total Time from Door to Door

In total, when businesses import goods from China to the UK, the amount of time it takes from the goods leaving your supplier to being delivered to your premises (in England, Scotland or Wales) is approximately 6 weeks.

When working out the approximate delivery date from the date your supplier gives you for the goods being ready it’s often a good idea to add in an extra week as production schedules often run over.  If your deadlines are tight feel free to contact us and we’ll advise you on exactly when your supplier needs to get the goods to the port in order to meet your required delivery date.



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