How to Ship a Container to Europe

Most companies who want to ship a container to Europe from the US aren’t aware of all their options. Europe is a big consumer of American products and imports many types of foods, feeds, and beverages. There are many shipping lines available to send a container from the US to Europe. Most shipping lines don’t work directly with the end user.  In fact, you may end up working with a licensed ocean freight forwarder which is better because they have contacts with shipping lines and offer much lower rates than if you approached a shipping line directly. A professional freight forwarding company will have their shipping process streamlined when they ship a container to Europe for you.


There are two main things you should look for when selecting an ocean freight forwarder. One factor to look for is if the company is currently registered with the FMC (Federal Maritime Commission). You can visit the FMC website to verify that the ocean freight forwarder is legally registered with the US Government.  Never work with a company that does not a carry a valid license because it is not legal for that company to take possession of your goods. In addition, it is a high probability of being a scam. If the company does carry a valid license, then risk is almost eliminated and all you have to do is look at the second factor.

The second factor is BBB member registration. If the company is both a member of the BBB and carries an FMC license, you can feel comfortable shipping $1, 000, 000 worth of consumer goods. The reason BBB membership verification is important is to show that the company is actively involved in shipping and to check for any complains by their customers.  Any company of decent size will have complaints so don’t let that determine whether or not you will work with a particular company. What is important is to check if the company has numerous complaints regarding the same manner all within in short amount of time, especially if it is recent.

Once these two factors are verified, it all comes to price and service. If a company needs to ship a container to Europe, it must decide whether to take the product to the shipping yards (Port-to-Port) or to have a truck driver arrive with an empty container to pick up the product (Door-to-Port). Door-to-Port is more expensive upfront, but the company may incur additional expenses if they are far from the shipping docks. Door-to-Port takes care of all the logistics of getting the product to the shipping docks for you.

One final thing to make sure of before shipping a container to Europe is to have the receiver contact their country’s Customs Department for import duties and/or licenses.

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