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Air Cargo From India To USA: Guide for Smooth Shipping

sahil bajaj

Sahil Bajaj

Senior Specialist - Marketing @ Shiprocket

March 14, 2024

11 min read

India ships goods to various parts of the world including the United States. Air shipping regulations between India and the United States are clearly defined owing to which they have developed strong trade relations. The trade between the two countries has grown over the decades. For years, China was India’s top trading partner however it was replaced by the US in 2019. Reports suggest that trade between India and the United States grew to USD 142 billion from USD 16 billion between 1999 and 2018. Air cargo from India to the USA has witnessed a surge just as the sea cargo. The inclination towards air cargo is, however, growing. The trend is expected to grow further as businesses in India are trying to provide fast and efficient delivery of goods to their customers residing in the US. It is important to have a clear understanding of the customs regulations and other norms related to air freight from India to the USA to ensure the smooth transportation of shipments.

In this article, we have shared comprehensive information about the intricacies involved in transporting goods from India to the USA via air. Read on to find out!

Air Cargo From India To USA

Air Shipping From India To The US: Overview Of The Process

As mentioned above, the trade between the two countries grew from 1999 to 2019. This growth was hampered in 2020 as several businesses came to a standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic and trading between nations was restricted. The United States and India were among the countries that were worst affected by the pandemic. However, the relations between them grew stronger as they supplied necessary medicines and medical equipment to each other in an attempt to control the pandemic. Air freight from India to the USA was used for the purpose as it enabled quick deliveries while keeping the shipment secure. It fulfilled the urgent medical requirements during that crucial phase.

India is one of the largest suppliers of agricultural products and various other goods to the US. Rice, precious gemstones, and electronic devices are among the goods that are exported in huge quantities. Statistics reveal that exports from India to the US reached USD 78.54 billion in 2023.

Air cargo shipping from India to the USA involves a series of steps that have strict guidelines attached to them. Having a thorough knowledge about the kind of goods you can send to trading partners and how to get clearance for the same is crucial. It is also important to have a fair idea about the cost involved in the process to make necessary arrangements.

Different Steps or Stages For Shipping Products Internationally

Here are the steps to be followed while shipping products internationally:

  1. Export Haulage – This step involves transporting goods to the airport or port by arranging appropriate means of transport.
  2. Origin Handling – During this step, the goods are prepared for international shipping by packing and labeling them appropriately. It also involves collecting and preparing the documents to make sure they comply with the export regulations.
  3. Export Customs Clearance – This step involves preparing and submitting the customs documentation which includes the export declaration, packing list, and commercial invoice. This step must be handled cautiously to ensure the accuracy of documents.
  4. Air Freight – For air freight from India to the USA, you require booking space on an aircraft. Finding a reputed shipping company helps manage this step efficiently. It takes care of the logistics, customs, and documentation.
  5. Import Customs Clearance – As the goods arrive in the USA, they go through import clearance. To ensure this step passes smoothly, you must comply with the customs regulations of the USA. It is essential to show all the relevant documents such as the import declaration, commercial invoice, and bill of lading.
  6. Destination Handling – Local transportation companies come into the picture during this step. They pick up the goods from the airport and transport them to their destination in the United States. 
  7. Import Haulage – This involves arranging the appropriate mode of transportation to deliver the goods to their final location.

List of Prohibited Items When Shipping From India To The USA

It is important to have a clear understanding of the prohibited items when shipping from India to the US to avoid hassle and delays. Here we provide a list of the prohibited items. However, it is recommended to check the same with your freight forwarder as there may be changes in the regulations at any time.

  • Hazardous materials, such as corrosives and radioactive substances
  • Flammable liquids, gases, and chemicals
  • Live animals (without necessary permits and documentation)
  • Cultural artifacts and antiques (without the required permits)
  • Firearms, guns, and ammunition
  • Ivory and products made from endangered animals
  • Explosives, including fireworks
  • Communication devices or radio transmitters (without authorization)
  • Pornographic materials
  • Goods infringing intellectual property rights (such as counterfeit brands)
  • Narcotics and illegal drugs
  • Counterfeit or pirated goods
  • Seeds, plants, and agricultural products (without proper permits)
  • Prescription medications (without relevant documentation)
  • Tobacco products (exceeding the personal use limits)

Current Trade Relations Between India and The USA

Trade relations between India and the US are quite cordial. The United States is India’s largest trading partner. India reportedly had a trade surplus of USD 28.30 billion with the United States in 2022-23. Pharmaceutical products, gems, jewelry, electronic goods, light crude oil, and petroleum are some of India’s major exports to the US. Statistics reveal that the USA is India’s third largest investor with its total FDI inflow from April 2000 to March 2023 being USD 60.19 billion.

Air Cargo From India to The USA: Shipping Costs and Shipping Time 

The shipping cost of air freight from India to the USA varies depending on various factors. It largely varies between USD 2.50 and USD 5.00. One of the first things that is considered while determining shipping cost is the type of cargo being transported. There are different types of air cargo including special cargo, general cargo, live animals, perishable cargo, temperature-controlled cargo, and mail cargo among others. The amount charged by the shipping companies varies largely depending upon the type of cargo to be transported, the weight of the cargo and the distance to be covered. In addition to this, you may also be charged airport transfer fees.

The charges for air freight are certainly higher than the sea shipping. However, it enables quick deliveries. This has made it an ideal choice for shipments that are small and lightweight.

Major Shipping Ports in India and the US

Here is a look at the major shipping ports in India and the US:

Ports in India

  • Mumbai Port – This is India’s largest port by size with four jetties. It facilitates the transportation of bulk cargo. Most of its container traffic is sent towards the Nhava Sheva port.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru Port – Nhava Sheva – It is the largest container port in India. More than half of the total container cargo passes through this port.
  • Chennai Port – It is the second-largest container port in the country. It witnesses a huge rush of containers almost all around the year owing to its connectivity with more than 50 ports worldwide. Reports suggest that it handles over 60 million tonnes of cargo every year.
  • Port of Mundra – This is India’s largest commercial and container port. Situated near Mundra, Gujarat, it is known for its huge infrastructure. Owned by the Adani Group, the port has 24 berths. Statistics reveal that it handled 155 million tonnes of cargo in 2022-2023.  
  • Kolkata Port – Also known as the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, it is located approximately 203 kilometers away from the sea. The port built by the British East India Company is spread across an area of 4,500 acres. It has 34 berths in Kolkata and 17 in Haldia. It mainly transports iron ore, cotton textiles, and leather.

Ports in the US

  • New York Port – New York Port is the East Coast’s busiest port. It is known to be the chief economic engine of the region. The airports in the region make it the busiest center for air freight flights. Several international flights carry tonnes of cargo from this port to different parts of the world. 
  • Port of Long Beach – The second busiest container port in the United States, Port of Long Beach, is the chief gateway for trade between the US and Asia. It is spread across an area of 3,200 acres and has 80 berths and 10 piers. This popular port adjoins another major port in the United States, the Port of Los Angeles.   
  • Savannah Port – Located in Georgia, this is also among the busiest seaports in the United States. The facilities at this port include Garden City Terminal, Target Corporation Facility, Heineken USA Facility, SeaPoint Industrial Terminal Complex, Savannah Port Terminal Railroad, Ocean Terminal, and IKEA Facility.
  • Port of Los Angeles – It registers huge volumes of containerized trade year after year. The busiest container port in North America, it is known for its efficient infrastructure. It adjoins the Port of Long Beach and encompasses 25 cargo terminals and 8 container terminals in addition to 82 container cranes.   
  • Port of Houston – It is one of the largest ports in the world. Located in Texas, it is a huge complex spread across 50 miles. Initially, its terminals were confined to the Houston city. However, gradually they expanded and began providing facilities in several communities in the adjoining areas. It has 5 major general cargo terminals and 2 cargo container terminals.

Air Cargo From India To USA: Overview Of Required Documentation

Here is an overview of the main documents that need to be produced while sending air freight from India to the USA.

  1. Commercial Invoice – This is the proof of payment for the shipment 
  2. US Customs Invoice – This includes the value and description of the goods in the shipments in addition to the details about the country in which the products have been manufactured.
  3. Inward Cargo Manifest – It contains the list of the items in the shipment
  4. Bill of Lading or Airway Bill – Bill of Lading is a legal receipt issued for ocean freight. It is issued by the carrier. Airway Bill, on the other hand, is for air freight. This bill is issued by the airline.
  5. Packing List – It includes details about the dimensions and volume of the cargo. The packing list also has the contact information of the buyer and the seller.


Air freight from India to the USA is used to transport a wide variety of products under different cargo categories. Stringent guidelines have been outlined for shipping air cargo from India to the USA. More and more businesses in India are choosing air freight for delivering goods to their customers in the United States. This is because air cargo ensures speed, reliability as well as security. However, you can avail of these advantages only if you choose a trusted international logistics service provider like CargoX. Shiprocket’s CargoX ensures shipping brilliance. With its widespread network, spread across over 100 overseas regions, it enables the transportation of goods to different parts of the world in a quick and hassle-free manner. Timely delivery and safety of the shipment are among its top priorities. It provides real-time tracking of shipments and offers excellent customer service to guide you at various steps of the process. From documentation to customs clearance – you can sail through each step smoothly with CargoX’s help.

Is freight insurance mandatory for air cargo from India to the USA?

Though freight insurance is not mandatory for air cargo from India to the USA, it is recommended to insure your shipments. It helps overcome financial losses, if any, during the transit. It is important to choose a reputable insurance company and understand all the related terms and conditions to avoid any hassle later.

Can all kinds of live animals be transported by air cargo shipping from India to the USA?

You can transport live animals via air cargo shipping from India to the USA, only if you have the permit and required documentation. However, the transportation of endangered species is prohibited.

Is it possible to send currency via air cargo shipping from India to the USA?

You can send currency as well as other monetary instruments via air cargo shipping from India to the USA, however, only up to the specified limit and along with appropriate documentation.

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