Comparing Shipping Methods from US to UAE


Shipping Methods from US to UAE, Are you moving from the United States to the United Arab Emirates? When it comes to international relocation, selecting the right shipping method for your belongings is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. The method you choose impacts transit time, cost, level of control, and more. In this guide, we’ll compare popular options for shipping methods from US to UAE so you can determine the best approach for your move.

Air Freight

One of the fastest ways to ship items from the US to the UAE is via air freight. This method allows you to ship goods by airplane rather than slower sea freight. Air freight is best suited for urgent or time-sensitive shipments, smaller volumes, and high-value goods.

Transit Time

The biggest advantage of air freight is speed. Transit time from the US to major UAE airports like Dubai and Abu Dhabi is typically 3 to 4 days door-to-door. For unaccompanied air freight shipments without a handler, it may take 3 to 4 working days to clear customs upon arrival before delivery.


Air freight shipping comes at a premium cost. You pay for the speed and direct flight. Relative to sea shipments, the small cargo load size also means higher rates for the space and weight used. Expect to pay more for faster transit times.

Shipment Size Limits

Air freight has tighter limits on dimensions and weight per piece than sea shipments. Items over 100 lbs or oversized pieces may not be accepted. This method works best for smaller shipments.

Pros and Cons

Air freight is fast and reliable but more restrictive. Weigh the premium cost against your need for urgent delivery. It gives more control than consolidated air options.

Sea Freight

For larger volumes over long distances, sea freight is the most common shipping method from the US to the UAE. It’s better suited for large shipments that are not time-sensitive.

Transit Time

Shipments from East Coast US ports to UAE ports like Jebel Ali take approximately 45 days. From West Coast ports expect 60-90 days in transit. Total door-to-door sea freight time is typically 90-120 days.


Of the main international shipping methods, sea freight is the most affordable. The slower transit time and high-volume cargo loads reduce transportation costs. Expect to pay less than air but more than land shipping.

Shipment Size

Sea containers come in standard 20ft and 40ft sizes, fitting 1-4 bedroom homes. You can opt for a full container load or share space through consolidated/groupage shipping. No strict limits on weight or dimensions.

Pros and Cons

Sea freight offers cost-effective shipping for large volumes without urgent timelines. The compromise is on slower transit and less shipment tracking/control versus air freight.

Consolidated (Groupage) Shipping

Consolidated shipping involves sharing space in a shipping container with other shippers. Also called groupage or LCL (less than container load), it offers a middle ground between air and sea solutions.

Transit Time

Consolidated shipment times depend on connections, but are generally faster than sea and cheaper than air. Final delivery typically takes 45 to 90 days from the US to the UAE.


By sharing space in containers, costs are significantly lower than solely booking air freight or an entire sea container. Consolidated rates offer savings versus air and sea cargo.

Shipment Size

You can ship partial container loads through consolidated services. Minimums start around 20ft3 (1-2 bedroom home). No set limits on item weight or dimensions.

Pros and Cons

Consolidated shipping allows flexibility for mid-size shipments that are time-sensitive but cost-conscious. The trade-off is potential delays and less control versus direct air or sea freight.

Full Container Load (FCL)

Rather than sharing space, FCL means booking an entire sea container for your exclusive use. This allows full control of your shipment.

Transit Time

Expect 90-120 days in transit for FCL shipments, same as standard sea freight. No waiting for other cargo to consolidate.


FCL costs more than consolidated since you pay for the entire container. But it’s cheaper than air freight and faster than direct sea freight with volume discounts.

Shipment Size

You’ll need enough cargo to fill and justify the sole use of a 20 or 40-foot container. FCL works for shipments over 500 ft3 to fit a 20ft container minimum.

Pros and Cons

FCL shipping allows full control of your shipment and direct routing without delays from consolidating cargo. Downsides require more volume and higher cost than sharing a container.

Key Decision Factors

When deciding the best shipping method from US to UAE for your move, consider these key factors:

  • Transit time needed
  • Shipment volume and dimensions
  • Budget and cost sensitivity
  • Level of control over shipment handling
  • Ease of customs clearance

Prioritize time, cost, and requirements for your goods. Larger shipments with flexible timelines suit sea freight. Air freight accommodates urgent or high-value goods. Consolidated and FCL offer middle-ground options.

Selecting the right international shipping method is crucial for a smooth move from the United States to the UAE. Now that you understand the pros and cons of air freight, sea freight, consolidated/groupage shipping, and FCL options, you can make an informed decision based on your situation. Thinking about transit time, costs, shipment specifics, and your needs will steer you toward the ideal solution for shipping your belongings overseas to Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE.

Trustpilot Reviews

Important Links

Ocean Shipping


USA : 1-888-323-7356
INDIA : 1-800-103-7356