The United States and Spain enjoy an important trading relationship, with freight transport playing a key role in facilitating bilateral trade.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the different modes of transport available for shipping freight between the US and Spain. We will delve into the specifics of each mode, including sea freight, air freight, rail freight, and door-to-door services. In addition, we will address critical considerations such as customs clearance procedures, documentation requirements, and tariff classifications.

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Table of Contents

Overview – Trade Relations between the US and Spain

Both opportunities and challenges have marked trade relations between the United States and Spain. In recent years, the total trade between the two countries has reached significant figures. In 2021, U.S. exports to Spain totaled $17.3 billion, a 24.9% ($3.2 billion) increase from 2020; U.S. imports from Spain totaled $18.6 billion, a 21.5% ($3.3 billion) increase; and the trade deficit was $2.5 billion, a 3.6% ($89.3 million) increase.
In 2021, 0.9% of the total U.S. exports were shipped to Spain, while 0.7% of total U.S. Imports were delivered from Spain.

The energy sector stands out as a crucial component of the bilateral trade relationship. From 2020 to 2021, three out of four of the top commodity sectors of the U.S. exports to Spain increased in absolute terms. In 2021, U.S. exports of Chemicals, Plastics, and Leather goods increased by 59.8% ($1.9 billion) from $3.2 billion in 2020 to $5.1 billion.


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Sea freight between the US and Spain

The main shipping seaports in the United States and Spain play a vital role in facilitating trade between the two countries. Here are some key ports in each country:

The main shipping seaports in Spain

Port of Barcelona

In terms of cargo handled, the Port of Barcelona is the most important port in Spain, with 24% of the country's external maritime trade passing through its facilities. It is also one of the most popular cruise ports in Europe and the Mediterranean. It is part of a unique European logistics platform that encompasses the port, Barcelona El Prat airport, the Zona Franca (free zone), Mercabarna and ZAL-Port (logistics zone), enabling it to reach 4 million consumers in less than 48 hours.
Furthermore, it offers 100 nautical services and is the only Spanish port with direct rail links to Europe, connecting it to 200 ports on five continents.

Port of Valencia

The port of Valencia is located in Spain, in the eastern part of the autonomous region of Valencia. It lies to the north of the southern bank of the mouth of the River Turia and to the east of the western bank of the Gulf of Valencia. To the south, it is close to the port of Alicante. Valencia is one of the main ports in eastern Spain and the closest seaport to the capital Madrid. Due to its qualities, this port can handle a wide range of areas and presents a high level of complexity and variety. The Port of Valencia is the second-largest cargo port in Spain in terms of tonnage, with 65 million tonnes of traffic, and the largest in terms of container numbers, with 5.05 million TEUs by 2021 (TEUs: Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units).

The main shipping seaports in the U.S.

Port of New York and New Jersey

The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest port on the East Coast of the United States, serving as a crucial gateway for international trade. It features multiple terminals, including Port Newark and Port Elizabeth, and handles diverse cargo types, such as containers, bulk cargo, and automobiles.

Virginia Port

Virginia Port, situated in the state of Virginia, United States East coast, is a thriving maritime facility handling an impressive volume of cargo. With its strategic location on the Atlantic Ocean, the port facilitates the movement of over 2.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) annually, making it a significant gateway for international trade.

How much does it take to ship freight between the USA to Spain?

Barcelona Valencia
Port of New York and New Jersey 19 days 17 days
Virginia Port 17 days 16 days

*The estimated shipping duration provided is based on an average of data collected from our previous customers and surveys.

Shipping Container Options for US - Spain Freight

When shipping freight from the US to Spain, various container options are available to accommodate different cargo volumes and requirements.

The following 3 different types of standard-size containers are available for the transport

  • 20 ft (6.1 m) container with a volume of 33 m3 (about 10 pallets)
  • 40 ft (12.19 m) container with a volume of 67 m3 (about 20 pallets)
  • 40 ft (12.19 m) HQ container with a volume of 76 m3 (about 24 pallets)

For pallets of 120 × 100 cm (max height 230 cm)

DocShipper Advice: As an international freight forwarder, we are able to handle different logistics operations such as sea freight. If you have an upcoming shipment and would like to rely on us and benefit from our experience in the sector, contact our experts via our form and receive a free quote within 24 hours.

How much does it cost to ship between the U.S. and Spain

On average, shipping a standard 20-foot container (known as a TEU) from the US to Spain can range from $800 to $4,000. For a 40-foot container, the cost can range from $2000 to $6,000. 

It is important to note that these prices are subject to change and should be considered as general indications.

To obtain accurate and up-to-date cost estimates for your specific shipment, it is recommended to consult with freight forwarders (like DocShipper), shipping agents, or logistics providers who can provide personalized quotes based on your requirements. They have access to the latest market rates and can consider the specific details of your shipment to provide a more precise cost estimation.

Looking for an estimate? Get a free quote in les than 24h by filling out our easy form.


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Air Freight between the US to Spain

Air freight is a preferred option when time-sensitive or high-value shipments need to be transported between the US and Spain. While it is generally more expensive compared to sea freight, air transportation offers significant advantages in terms of speed and efficiency.

In terms of price, speed, and service, there are various options available for air freight shipments between the United States and Spain. Here are examples of companies that offer traditional airfreight and express airfreight services for this route:

Traditional Airfreight:

  1. Delta Cargo: Delta Air Lines operates an extensive network of cargo services, including flights between the United States and Spain. Their traditional airfreight service provides reliable transportation options for larger shipments with flexible routing options.
  2. Europlataforma de Carga: The Intermodal Transportation Site, Cargo Airport, and Logistics Platform in Albacete-La Roda are promoted by Europlataforma de Carga S.A, a private company, with political support from the Government of Spain. It is all integrated by the infrastructures of a Cargo Airport, an Intermodal Transportation infrastructure, and a Logistic Platform.

Express Airfreight:

  1. UPS: UPS offers express airfreight services between the United States and Spain. With its global network and advanced logistics capabilities, UPS ensures fast transit times and end-to-end visibility for time-sensitive shipments.
  2. DHL: DHL operates a comprehensive express airfreight network, connecting the United States and Spain with expedited shipping solutions. Their extensive reach, streamlined processes, and dedicated customer service make them a reliable choice for urgent shipments.
  3. FedEx: FedEx provides express airfreight services between the United States and Spain, offering fast and reliable delivery options. Their extensive global network and advanced tracking systems ensure efficient transportation and real-time visibility of shipments.

Main Airports in the US

For air freight from the US to Russia, major airports play a crucial role in facilitating cargo transportation. Some of the key airports in the US for international air freight include:

Main Airports in Spain

On the Spain side, several airports serve as important hubs for air cargo transportation:

  • Valencia Airport: (VLC) - International airport located approximately 8 km west of Valencia, Spain, on the territory of the municipalities of Manises and Quart de Poblet and the 10th largest airport in Spain.
  • Madrid Barajas Airport (MAD) - Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas Airport is the largest airport in Spain, serving the city of Madrid. In 2013, it was ranked 29th in the world2 and 5th in Europe.
  • Barcelona Airport International (BCN) - Barcelona-El Prat Airport is an international airport located around 12 km south-west of Barcelona in Catalonia. The airport is the second busiest in Spain after Madrid and the 27th busiest in the world.

Reasons for Choosing Air Transport

Air transport offers several advantages for freight shipping between the US and Spain:

  •  Speed: Air freight is the fastest mode of transportation, ensuring quick delivery of time-sensitive goods.
  •  Reliability: Airlines maintain strict schedules, minimizing the risk of delays and ensuring timely delivery.
  • Security: Air cargo undergoes stringent security measures, reducing the chances of theft or damage.

International air transportation has advantages that no other transportation can match. It is fast (usually takes 7 days in transit time), safe, and accurate, simplifies packaging, and saves packaging costs.

International air freight is calculated in W/M, but the weight-to-volume ratio is 6000 cubic centimeters to 1 kilogram (equivalent to 6 cubic meters per metric ton), so the actual freight is calculated in kilograms. Although air freight is generally higher, international air freight has advantages for large volumes that no other transportation can match

Why do we choose air transport?


The speed of air freight is unmatched by sea, road, or rail freight. It is very popular for the delivery of fresh produce, animals, and plants. 


Airports are very secure places, with strict regulations and controls, which benefit air shippers who know that their goods are being monitored, limiting risks and accidents. The unloading of the goods is done quickly, which further reduces the delivery time.

Places served

Air freight allows delivery to almost any location in the world, goods can be flown to the nearest airport and then delivered by road freight to its destination more quickly than with any other solution.


Airfreight companies offer a service that allows the tracking of your goods in real-time and their status during the entire transport.

Cost of packaging 

Air freight lends itself to lightweight packaging and low material requirements. Packaging costs are therefore quite low. 

What is volumetric weight?

A law of equivalence is used by air carriers to respect the volumetric weight. The higher of the volumetric weight and the gross weight of the goods will be used. The following rules should be noted:

  • Classic air freight: 1 m³ = 167 Kgs
  • Express air freight: 1 m³ = 200 kgs

formule poids volumetrique

calculer poids parcelle

DocShipper Advice: If you need to ship products by air freight between the U.S. and Spain, our team is ready to discuss your needs anytime. If you're interested in this service, contact our experts via our form, and you will receive a free quote within 24 hours.


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Rail Freight from the US to Spain

Rail transport offers a cost-effective alternative for freight shipping between the US and Spain, especially for landlocked regions. While it may have longer transit times compared to air or sea transport, rail freight provides excellent connectivity and can be a viable option for certain types of cargo.

Rail Transport Infrastructure

The rail networks in the United States are much more developed and cover much larger areas than Spain. Connecting rail lines transport goods from inland regions to major ports and terminals for onward shipment.

Advantages of Rail Transport between the US and Spain

Rail transport offers several advantages for freight shipping between the US and Spain:

  • Cost-effective: Rail freight can be more economical than air or sea transport, especially for certain types of cargo or specific trade routes.
  • Secure and Reliable: Rail transport provides a secure and reliable mode of transportation, ensuring the safety and integrity of goods during transit.
  • Environmentally Friendly: Rail transport is considered a more sustainable option compared to road transport, reducing carbon emissions and promoting eco-friendly logistics.

Door-to-Door Delivery between the US and Spain

Door-to-door delivery services offer convenience and efficiency by handling the entire logistics process, from origin to destination. This comprehensive service includes pickup, transportation, customs clearance, and final delivery of goods.

Why is door-to-door service useful?

All in all, from packaging, loading, documents, customs clearance, shipment, unloading, and unpacking ... We can provide the most mature service you could imagine. Check here to know more: Door-to-door service

Benefits of Door-to-Door Service

  • Convenience: Door-to-door delivery eliminates the need for multiple intermediaries, streamlining the shipping process and reducing administrative burden.
  • Time Savings: With door-to-door service, shipments are handled by a single provider, ensuring faster transit times and minimizing potential delays.
  • Peace of Mind: By entrusting the entire shipping process to a professional logistics provider, businesses can focus on their core operations and have peace of mind knowing that their goods are in safe hands.

Why would I need a door-to-door service?

A door-to-door service, just like its name indicates, involves collecting the goods from wherever you want them to be delivered to the address of your choice, right to your home or business. So the service is complete, whether by sea, air, express, or rail and makes things much easier for you.

 Safe delivery

When you entrust your cargo to us, you can be sure that it will arrive at its destination without any problems. All our partners guarantee a high-quality service.

Professional staff

At Docshipper, one thing we are very pleased with is the friendliness of our team and their attention to detail. When you order your goods through us, you get an individual experience. 

Tracking of shipments

Our staff will allow you to track the progress of your shipment at any time.

Are you looking for a reliable and safe door-to-door solution for transport between China and Switzerland? Then contact us! We will be happy to discuss with you the most appropriate solution for you.

Our team is here to assist you with the details of all your logistics requirements.

You may also wish to have a look at our special page: Door-to-door service


Customs Clearance in Spain for Goods Imported from the US

When importing goods from the US to Spain, customs clearance is an essential step in the shipping process. It involves the submission of necessary documents, payment of customs duties and taxes, and compliance with relevant regulations.

Categories of Tariffs

Tariffs for goods imported into Russia can be classified into different categories:

  • Tariff Classification based on Commodity Flow: Goods are categorized based on their nature and purpose, such as raw materials, finished products, or capital goods
  • Tariff Classification based on Tariff Purpose: Goods are classified according to their intended use or function, such as consumer goods, intermediate goods, or capital goods
  • Tariff Classification based on Tariff Treatment: Goods are categorized based on specific tariff treatment, such as preferential tariffs or special exemptions

Preferential Tariffs

Preferential tariffs are offered under trade agreements or arrangements between countries to promote bilateral trade and provide cost advantages for specific goods. These tariffs are typically lower or exempted, subject to certain conditions and eligibility criteria.

Most-favored-nation Treatment Tariffs

Most-favored-nation (MFN) treatment tariffs are applied to goods that are not eligible for preferential treatment. MFN tariffs are the standard tariff rates applied to all countries with which Russia does not have preferential trade agreements.

Special Preferences

Certain industries or sectors may receive special preferences, such as tax exemptions or reduced tariffs, to promote growth, innovation, or economic development. For more information, click here

Generalized System of Preferences Tariffs

Under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), certain developing countries may benefit from reduced or zero tariffs on specific goods when exporting to Russia. GSP tariffs aim to support economic growth and trade cooperation with eligible countries.

Calculating Customs Duties and Taxes

To calculate customs duties and taxes for goods imported from the US to Spain, several factors come into play, including the customs value of the goods, applicable tariff rates, and any additional fees or charges. Importers can seek assistance from customs brokers or freight forwarders to accurately calculate these costs.

Finding the HS Code

The Harmonized System (HS) code is an international standard for classifying goods based on their nature, composition, and purpose. Importers need to determine the correct HS code for their goods, which facilitates the customs clearance process. You can easily find the HS code by visiting this website and searching your product name in the search bar.

hs code finder

To determine the duties and taxes applied to specific goods imported from the US to Spain, importers can consult the customs tariff schedule or use online tools provided by customs authorities. These resources provide information on applicable rates, exemptions, and any additional charges.

DocShipper Advice: As you can see, Docshipper is far from being just an international forwarder. In fact, we take care of many other logistics operations such as customs clearance, or even packing and insurance! For more information, contact our experts via our form or directly by phone, you will receive a free quote within 24 hours.

Required Documents

Bill of Lading

The purpose of the bill of lading is to guarantee the designated goods have been supplied by the exporter, in other words, it represents a certificate of transport

The goods listed on this official document are covered by the terms of the freight company's contracts with the shipper.

This document contains the prices of the products and the coordinates of the places of transport of the goods.

The bill of lading, as an official document, has legal value. All the data required to proceed with the shipment of the goods is contained in this document.

For air transport, this document is called "Air Waybill".

Packing List

A form completed by the shipper that details the shipment including weight (gross and net), dimensions, contents, the numbering of each package in the shipment and any identifying information features such as serial numbers. It also allows for the identification of damage or shortages, as the customer only pays taxes for what they have actually received.

Documents of Conformity (CE Standard): 

The DOC is a declaration of responsibility stating that you comply with the requirements of the CE Directive and related harmonized standards, and it must be based on a conformity assessment, such as a test report or certificate of conformity for the product. In the case of electrical and electronic products, for example, the manufacturer can issue the DOC for both directives after passing the LVD/EMC test and preparing the technical data as required by the directives.

Certificate of Origin

Justifying the place of origin of your shipments, the certificate of origin is an essential element in world trade. It allows you to declare the country of origin of the goods.

It indicates the country of manufacture of the products, which should not be confused with the origin of the goods. This part is very important to allow importers and exporters to benefit from advantageous rates of customs duties, which are very advantageous for certain goods.


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