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Shipping Container to the UK

A Complete Guide | 2023

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Will the next chapter of your life story begin in jolly old England or in the Scottish Highlands? We imagine you might want to bring your possessions with you. If you are planning on purchasing a shipping container to the UK, you will want to know the ins and outs (especially on prices). In our complete guide, we cover shipping costs and times, and show you how to prepare for moving day. Read on!

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How Much to Ship a Container from the USA to UK?

We are sure that the price tag is the first thing on your mind. On average, a shipping container to the UK will set you back about $10,000. However, average only means average, and your move is unique to you!

In truth, there is no clear answer to how to determine the container shipping rates from the US to the UK.

Why is this? There are several factors which determine your container shipping rates to England. There are two main factors, though: the size of your container and your shipping distance.

Because containers come in two standard sizes (20ft & 40ft), you pay for less or more space. And because your cargo ship could leave from any American port, there is a ton of variation in distance!

Sirelo Tip! Having a tough time figuring out how much container space you need? No worries! Our handy Moving Space Calculator will get you to an approximate shipping volume in just a few clicks.

Overhead view of a container ship at sea

Cost of a 20ft Shipping Container form the US to the UK

So you might be wondering, is there any way to get a ballpark estimate? We’ve got your back! Even though the UK has many ports of entry, odds are your container will end up in London. That is why we have compiled the below price ranges originating from several major American cities:

City of Origin20ft Container Cost
New York$ 4,500 – $ 5,000
Chicago$ 3,600 – $ 5,250
Los Angeles$ 5,750 – $ 6,500
Houston$ 7,000 – $ 7,500
Seattle$ 7,500 – $ 8,500
Miami$ 6,000 – $ 7,000

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Container shipping rates to the UK regularly fluctuate per season and per carrier.

Cost of 40ft Shipping Container from US to the UK

If you are moving more than a modest apartment or home, you might be signing up for a full 40ft container. How much is all that freight going to cost? We dive into this below, listing approximate rates to London:

City of Origin40ft Container Cost
New York$ 8,750 – $ 10,000
Chicago$ 9,000 – $ 10,000
Los Angeles$ 11,000 – $ 12,000
Houston$ 13,000 – $ 15,000
Seattle$ 15,000 – $ 16,000
Miami$ 11,000 – $ 12,500

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Container shipping rates to the UK regularly fluctuate per season and per carrier.

Request Quotes for Shipping from the USA to the UK

By now we are sure you have realized that while shipping to the UK from the US might be an exact science, the pricing certainly is not!

The fact is, you will never know the cost of your shipping container to the UK until you request a quote from an international moving company. Until then, it is all just speculation.

At Sirelo, we are firm believers in shopping around to get the best price. To make this easy, by completing the form below you will receive up to five no-strings-attached quotes from reliable, trustworthy movers. You might end up saving a buck!

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Shipping Furniture to the UK: Things to Consider

You may be surprised to learn that a shipping container to the UK is not a one-size fits all business. In fact, there are small, medium, and large options, and you can tailor your delivery to your convenience and budget.

So how does it all shake out? Below we dive into the different sized containers and delivery options. Try to contain your excitement (see what we did there?).

20ft vs 40ft Shipping Container to the UK

Let us start with the medium and large options, as these are more straightforward. In essence, shipping containers to the UK (and the world) come in two standard sizes. This can make things easy or tough, depending on how you look at it!

A 20ft container has a volume of 33 m3, or 1,179 ft3. 40ft containers range from 66 m3 to 76 m3 (2,330 ft3 – 2684 ft3), depending on if it is extra tall (extra large?).

With two-ish options to choose from, there is not much thinking to it. We run into trouble, however, when we’re just over or under the recommended volumes. Need help downsizing? We got you!

Solo Travel vs Shared Container Shipping to the UK from the USA

Do you find yourself with too much to ship via air freight, but too little to fill a 20ft container? This is a common conundrum faced by many in need of a small move, and shared container shipping is a commonly offered solution. Phew!

But what is this exactly? In short, with a shared container (sometimes called an LCL or ‘less than container load‘ shipment) you split a container (and the price) with another person. Ever share a taxi? Same thing!

Door-to-door vs. Port-to-Port Delivery

Shipping your personal effects from the USA to the UK can receive the red-carpet service with a door-to-door move. The name says it all: the mover collects from your door and delivers to your new, British door.

Why would anyone choose otherwise? Well, budget concerns mostly. Door-to-door is the premium service, whereas port-to-port is a way to slim down your costs.

Port-to-port is as it sounds, where the freight carrier only handles the shipment at the departure and arrival ports. The rest is up to you to either deliver yourself or arrange separately.

Don’t forget! You can combine this with a Door-to-port or (rarely) a Port-to-door move. The combinations are (almost) endless, huh?

Loaded cargo ship with containers seen from the deck

Shipping Container US to UK: Delivery Time

Depending on your location, your US to UK shipping times will vary. We are sure you can figure out why… anything not on the Atlantic coast has quite a way to go!

If your container starts deep inland, it will need to be trucked across the highway or ferried down a river before it can be loaded on your cargo vessel. And if you start from the Pacific, your shipping container to the UK might have to pass through the Panama Canal!

This variation is important to consider as you put together your moving timeline, so we dive into the options below.

How Long Does Shipping by Sea from the USA to the UK Take?

So how long does a shipping container to the UK really take to arrive? We have compiled approximate shipping times for several major US port cities to London:

City of OriginShipping Time
New York9 – 14 Days
Chicago10 – 15 Days
Los Angeles14 – 21 Days
Houston14 – 18 Days
Seattle14 – 18 Days
Miami10 – 16 Days

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Container shipping times to the UK regularly fluctuate per route and per carrier.

What About Air Freight from the USA to the UK?

When you compare the shipping times, air freight appears highly preferrable to the alternative. So what is the catch?

Well, the price to volume ratio is sky high! We only recommend opting for air freight if shipping personal effects from the USA to UK means just a few boxes. Otherwise, the expense will be so large you might end up living in those boxes…

City of OriginShipping Time
New York1 – 3 Days
Chicago1 – 3 Days
Los Angeles2 – 4 Days
Houston2 – 3 Days
Seattle2 – 4 Days
Miami1 – 3 Days

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Container shipping times to the UK regularly fluctuate per route and per carrier.

What to Know When Shipping by Sea from the USA to the UK

Now that we have touched upon the pricing and logistics of US to UK shipping, we can let you in on some of the practicalities. Once you have your shipping container to the UK arranged, the next preparations are crucial to ensure all goes well.

Below we dive into how to prepare, as well as some legal technicalities to keep in mind as moving day appears on the horizon:

How to Prepare for Shipping Household Goods from USA to UK

Shipping furniture to the UK is an undertaking, so there are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for moving day. While there is much to keep in mind, we have listed the most crucial points:

Create a crystal-clear packing list

If you have ever moved locally before, you know that labelling your moving boxes is the smart move. When shipping personal effects from the USA to the UK, the wisdom here is ten-fold.

By creating an inventory as you pack, you ensure you have all the necessary paperwork for your moving company, customs inspectors, insurance company, and yourself!

Carefully pack & wrap everything

When moving from the US to the UK, shipping might mean different stages. Your furniture might need to first be trucked, then loaded into a container, and then unloaded onto yet another truck.

As you might imagine, this might involve some bouncing around. Having firm padding, packaging, and sturdy wrapping will help ensure everything arrives in one piece.

Don’t leave before you ship

While this may be tricky to arrange, you will thank yourself later. The last thing you want is to be sitting at high tea in England only to hear there is a problem with your container back home.

To prevent this, make sure your shipping container to the UK has set sail before boarding a plane. On the flip side, definitely be ready across the pond for when it arrives!

loaded cargo ship seen from a distance at sea

Customs Duties and Inspection

While being a part of the bureaucratic details of moving, paying close attention to customs inspection is important when shipping furniture to the UK. You do not want to end up paying tax on your own items!

Luckily, if you follow the rules, you will not have to. As long as you thoroughly declare the contents of your shipping container to the UK, you receive customs & import tax relief.

There are other rules, however. For example, you need to have owned everything for at least six months (save those receipts!) and you cannot sell anything within 12 months of arrival.

For more on these procedures, we recommend the UK custom authority’s website.

What Is Prohibited?

Of course, not everything is possible when shipping household goods from the USA to the UK. Some things by law you will need to leave behind. These items include:

  • Firearms
  • Offensive weapons (ex. switch-blade knives)
  • Alcohol
  • Controlled substances
  • Raw meat, dairy products, and plant seeds
  • Rough diamonds
  • Endangered animal and plant species
  • Pirated films, music, or other intellectual property

Will Your Electronics and Appliances Work in the UK?

Like most things moving, it depends. The easy answer? Electronics probably, appliances probably not.

Why? Most American appliances are designed to run on 110-volt power sources, while the UK power system tends towards 220 – 240 volts. Small electronics, like laptops and mobile phones, can more easily accept a wide range of voltages.

If you are set on bringing a particular appliance with you, it is possible to have an adaptor installed (though this is not always easy or cheap to do!). Our recommendation? It is very likely less expensive to replace your washing machine and refrigerator than to ship them.

Loaded cargo ship with a tug boat in the foreground

Shipping a Car from the USA to the UK

If you plan on bringing your vehicle with you, it pays to be wise on the costs. However, remember that the UK traffic laws may render shipping a car to the UK a moot point. Driving on the opposite side, left-side steering might be awkward! If you’re keen to tough it out, we have listed the price ranges below:

City of OriginShipping Cost
New York$ 7,250 – $ 12,000
Chicago$ 6,000 – $ 12,000
Los Angeles$ 8,500 – $ 13,500
Houston$ 10,000 – $ 15,000
Seattle$ 10,000 – $ 15,000
Miami$ 8,500 – $ 14,000

*Disclaimer: Please be aware that these ranges are merely estimates. Container shipping rates to the UK regularly fluctuate per season and per carrier.

Easily Get A Shipping Container to the UK with Sirelo!

We hope that by now you feel like an expert on shipping by sea from the USA to the UK. As you prepare yourself and your possessions for your long journey abroad, having a firm understanding of freight from the USA to the UK will help ensure you have a smooth move. Need further assistance? Then check out the useful article linked below for further reading. Good luck!