What is Transatlantic Shipping?

Transatlantic shipping, for the purpose of this article, is the movement of goods between the UK and the US, and vice versa. From a US perspective, the UK is currently its 7th largest goods trading partner at a substantial $132.3 billion in total two-way goods trade. This is no small number, even considering the scale of the US economy.

Transatlantic shipping

The US is the UK’s largest export and import market for goods outside of the EU. China comes in at 2nd place (of non-EU markets) behind the US, which may be a surprise to some.

The Special Relationship

The widely known ‘Special Relationship’ between the US and UK is an unofficial term first used by the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, during a speech in 1946. Since then, the term is often used to describe the cultural, economic, political, and historical relationship between the two nations.

Aside from the historical origins of the relationship, there are also of course shared cultural aspects between the UK and USA. From common language to entertainment (movies, music, TV, sports) and other influences like food and lifestyle, our two nations relate on many levels. Trade has and will always be an intrinsic part of keeping that special relationship alive for years to come.

Benefits of Transatlantic Shipping

With a background of strong trade and cultural alliances, the opportunities for businesses on both sides of the Atlantic are aided by the practicalities of moving goods between them. Relatively short transit times in both sea (circa 14 days port to port) and air (approximately 8 hours from New York to Heathrow and 12 hours from Heathrow to Miami and Florida respectively) make trade a realistic and practical option.

It’s also worth noting that before the pandemic sea freight rates could often hold quarterly validity periods, which helps plan your cost of goods – something that we hope will return to the Transatlantic sea freight marketplace if and when things settle down post-pandemic.

Tips for successful Transatlantic Shipping

When it comes to Transatlantic shipping, there are a few things to be aware of to ensure the easiest and smoothest experience. Here are our tips.

  • Wood Packaging for UK exports – US Customs have been cracking down on import packaging in recent times. It may cost a bit more upfront, but packing in appropriately treated materials like ISPM15 (which is the preferred material used by all credible export packing providers) will result in savings in the long term.
  • Air freight transit timings – during COVID, air freight has been very limited due to the huge impact on the airline industry. Ship as early as possible to avoid delays.
  • Trans-loads – there is more of an upfront cost, but having a warehouse near the East Coast seaports allows your US-based forwarders to expedite imports and exports. Trans-loading them at a facility cuts transit times on the rail by weeks in some cases.
  • Know your Incoterms – this is not just Transatlantic specific, but it is common for businesses to not fully understand Incoterms, which can really harm a company’s profitability if they do not understand what they are agreeing to with terms of sale. In-depth advice from an experienced and credible freight forwarder can help you to navigate this important area. Read more about Incoterms here.

How to start Transatlantic shipping

Like anything, if you’re starting with exporting or importing to a new country or region, then it’s smart to employ the support of a credible international freight forwarder that has proven experience and an established network for that part of the world.

How do you know if a freight forwarder is credible? Check their website, see how long they’ve been established for and if they hold assurances like IATA (UK), ISO 9001 (UK), BIFA (UK), FIATA (US), FMC (US).

Turn to us here at Pinnacle Freight. With almost half a century of experience behind us, we’re well placed to handle your Transatlantic shipping needs. Give us a call on 0845 621 611 or drop us an email at enquiry@pif.co.uk.


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