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Shipping from UK to US: Your Complete Guide

shipping from uk to us
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If you’re peeking at the pond across the Atlantic and thinking of selling products in the United States of America, understanding the ins and outs of international shipping and global ecommerce fulfilment from the UK to the US will help you determine if this is the right step for you and your business. Whether you’re an established exporter looking to reach new customers stateside or a startup exploring international markets for the first time, shipping goods from the UK to the US requires navigating a unique set of logistical and regulatory considerations.

With our experience in global logistics, we’re here to guide you on what makes shipping from the UK to the US different. This includes everything from navigating customs regulations to choosing the most cost-effective and reliable courier services. 

Pros of Shipping from the UK to the US

Market Size – at over 300 million consumers, the large and wealthy US population provides extensive sales prospects relative to domestic options alone. Even niche products can find success at scale Stateside.

Economic Strength – the America economy consistently produces around 20% of global GDP, providing stable demand even during downturns. Exporting diversifies away from reliance on any single nation.

Consumer Trends – the US population often pioneers new preferences that later spread globally. Tap into emerging American tastes before trends reach international shores.

Free Trade Agreements – arrangements like NAFTA/USMCA prioritise member economies for advantageous duties among close allies. Bilateral UK-US talks also aim to facilitate commerce.

Logistics Infrastructure – few places on Earth boast connectivity like the US, with extensive ground, sea, and air networks for reliable deliveries coast to coast. Expedited customs clearance speeds also aid America-bound shipments.

Cons of Shipping from the UK to the US

Regulation – Every country has their own rules for importing goods. Things like labels, product safety standards, and customs declarations can be different. You have to carefully follow each place’s requirements to avoid issues.

Costs – Shipping across an ocean costs more than down the road. Fuel to move the container and any extra fees add up. You might pay extra to get stuff through customs quickly, too.

Weather – Boats can run into storms or machinery problems when sailing. That means goods might get stuck on the water for longer than planned. You need backup schedules so customers aren’t mad about late orders.

Payments – Sending money overseas costs more with international transfer fees. Paying with credit cards abroad also adds on charges, so look for shipping companies that bundle these costs to make it cheaper.

Competition – When products land in the US, they face tough competition from local companies and imports from all over. Your marketing has to really convince people why they should pick your products. 

Understanding the Basics of Shipping from the UK to the US

The first thing to understand is the sheer distance between the UK and the US – over 3,500 miles separates mainland Britain from New York. This vast ocean crossing means transit times are lengthier than domestic shipping. Most ground couriers average 7-10 business days for standard service, with expedited 3-5 day options available for a premium. The timescale is similar to road freight but without the ability to track progress en route.

Next are the legal requirements. Both countries have customs agencies – Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the UK and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Upon arrival, international shipments undergo customs clearance procedures to ensure regulatory compliance and calculate applicable duties and taxes. CBP requires a bill of lading (BOL) detailing the consignment’s contents and value, as well as other forms to avoid restricted and prohibited items and shipping delays.

This customs clearance process typically takes 1-2 working days once the shipment reaches the destination country. It’s performed either by the courier (for a fee) or the recipient. Do-it-yourself clearance can save on middleman costs but requires navigating government reporting mandates. 

In a nutshell, building in time for cross-border transit and customs is wise to avoid pressure and disappoint customers with delayed estimates.

Choosing the Right Courrier 

Several premier companies offer UK to US freight, including FedEx, DHL, and UPS. Each has its own specialities, so it’s worth comparing key factors like:

  • Price – typically based on weight, dimensions, and service speed. Larger parcel services tend to be cheaper for small and mid-sized shipments.
  • Delivery Speed – from standard ground to time-guaranteed expedited options. Consider rush requirements and associated premiums.
  • Tracking – visibility into progress benefits both exporters and recipients for peace of mind. All major firms provide online tracking.
  • Customs Assistance – some couriers offer clearance support as part of their international services. Compare included and extra paperwork fees.
  • Surcharges – watch for additional charges like residential or remote area deliveries. Calculate total costs.


FedEx is renowned for its swift delivery services. This makes them ideal for urgent shipments from the UK to the US. They have a strong global presence and an efficient tracking system. However, the speed comes at a premium cost.

Services to the US:

  • FedEx International Priority (1-3 days)
  • FedEx International Economy (4-6 days)


DHL offers a wide range of services, making them a versatile choice for various shipping needs. They have a large network and are known for reliability. Their prices are competitive, though they may not be as fast as FedEx.

Services to the US:

  • DHL Express Worldwide (1-3 days)
  • DHL Economy Select (4-6 days)


UPS is known for its reliable and consistent service. They offer a good balance between cost and delivery time, making them a suitable option for regular shipping needs.

Services to the US:

  • UPS Worldwide Express (1-3 days)
  • UPS Worldwide Saver (4-6 days)

Choosing the right courier can be time-consuming. For businesses that partner with Delta Fulfilment, this decision-making process is streamlined. Thanks to our extensive network, we take the guesswork out of selecting couriers. We evaluate your needs and find the most cost-effective and efficient option, whether that’s the fastest delivery or the most budget-friendly service. You don’t need to spend time comparing couriers – we do it for you, ensuring your shipments are handled with the utmost care and efficiency.

Navigating Taxes and Tariffs

International trade inevitably involves taxes and duties to consider as part of shipping estimates. The main types are customs duties and VAT (value-added tax):

Customs duties are tariffs applied by the destination nation on imported goods. Rates vary widely by good classifications called Harmonized System (HS) codes. The US generally has lower duty rates than the EU.

VAT is a domestic consumption tax applied in the EU but not the US. However, exports are usually zero-rated to avoid double taxation. Reciprocal agreements further reduce UK-US duty rates under free trade arrangements like NAFTA.

Additional Considerations

When shipping goods overseas, proper packaging and insurance are important to protect your products and ensure safe delivery.

Packaging – Use strong boxes or crates sealed against water and impact. Clearly label each package with your contact info so customs and customers know where to send it. This helps it pass through different countries smoothly.

Insurance – Make sure your items are covered if something goes wrong in transit. Carriers offer coverage, or you can get separate cargo insurance. Know what kinds of losses are covered and any limits on how much the policy will pay out.

Tracking – New tracking technologies let you follow your order every step of the way. Ask for texts or emails at important points like arriving at an airport or border. Knowing where your shipment is avoids delays or lost packages.

Make arrangements well ahead and think of backups in case of unexpected delays. Following best practices like these helps your international shipments get where they need to go safely and efficiently across borders, which means happy customers worldwide.

Partner with Delta Fulfilment for fast, global fulfilment 

With our network of 100+ centres worldwide, we can ship within 24-48 hours to customers near and far. Alternatively, distribute from the UK using our carrier partners for reliable 1-2 week international delivery. 

We understand the complexities that come with managing international shipping logistics. Juggling compliance requirements, coordinating cross-border transportation, and ensuring visibility can drain valuable time and resources away from your core business. Let us take the burden of international fulfilment off your plate. 

As a leading 3PL provider with thousands of global shipments under our belt, we have the expertise and global network to move your products from door-to-door seamlessly to customers overseas. Contact us today and watch your international operations simplify. We’ll handle every step so you can focus on growth.

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