Many buyers look to Poland as a source of well-made goods at attractive prices. Of course, when you source from overseas, you have to consider the length of transit along with the cost of the product and the transportation.
So when it comes to shipping time, how does shipping from Poland to the USA compare with shipping from other markets?
Shipping time matters because time is money. That’s especially true when your vendor requires you to pay for the product before it goes out the door. Say you buy a container load of product for $15,000 and it takes three weeks to arrive. That’s three weeks of financial limbo. You no longer have the $15,000, but you can’t use or resell the product during that time.
That brings up another reason why shipping time matters: you need the product. Whether you’re sourcing parts for an assembly plant, machinery for a job site or consumer goods for a retail store, you can’t do business until the cargo arrives. Shipping time helps determine how early you order (and pay for) your product and, sometimes, how much money you tie up in buffer inventory.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic pushed much of the world into an economic slump, shipping time has moved up on the list of variables that shippers weigh when they source from overseas. With business slow, shipping lines have a tough time filling vessels. Rather than operate half empty, they’ve cancelled some sailings. So you might have to wait a few extra days for a ship, adding time to the total transit.
Airlines have cancelled flights, too, and that diminished capacity has doubled or tripled rates for air freight services. Shippers who normally use air freight are now looking closely at ocean service, wondering if the money they would save on the water is worth the extra travel time.
How fast can you get goods from Poland?
A shipment from Poland to the East Coast of the US typically spends about 20 days on the water. To make the carrier’s cutoff for loading cargo on the vessel, you need to get your shipment to the port at least two days before the sailing. That adds another two days to the transit. Of course, total shipping time also includes the days it takes to transport your shipment by truck or rail from the seller to the Polish port and from the US port to the final destination.
One big factor that influences average shipping time to the US from Poland is transshipment. Since there is presently no direct service from that country to the US, when you load in Poland, your cargo goes on a feeder vessel, which takes containers to a major base port such as Hamburg or Antwerp. There, the line transloads your shipment to a larger vessel for the ocean crossing.
How do other sourcing markets compare?
For comparison, here are shipping times from a few sample regions of the world where US companies might source product.
East Asia: When you source from China or another market in the Far East, and you ship to the eastern half of the US, you have to budget for a good deal more transit time than when you source from Poland. For example, cargo transported from the Port of Shanghai to the Port of New York through the Panama Canal spends about 30 days on the water.
India: Service from the Port of Nhava Sheva (near Mumbai) to New York could take anywhere from 25 to 32 days, depending on whether you pay extra for an express service or use a lower-priced service that includes transshipment.
The Mediterranean: A shipment from Cairo to New York spends 17 to 18 days on the water.
Western Europe: Transit from a major Western European port to the East Coast usually takes about 13 to 14 days.
How to optimize average shipping time to US from Poland
There are a couple of tricks that can reduce the number of days a shipment from Poland spends on the water. One option is to move the shipment by truck to a major Western European port. There, you can have the shipment loaded directly onto a trans-Atlantic ship, cutting six or seven days off your time on the water, while adding only a day or two on land. Of course, you’ll pay extra for the land transportation.
Depending on where your shipment is bound, you might also save time by choosing your vessel strategically. For example, if you’re shipping to Atlanta through the Port of Charleston, you could choose a vessel whose first port of call in the US is Charleston, rather than a vessel that stops in New York before heading south.
If time is absolutely of the essence, in some cases you might want to truck the shipment from Poland to Hamburg and book it on a vessel whose first port of call in North America is Montreal. That crossing takes only nine or ten days. Shipments to destinations in the Northeastern US, or even as far away as Detroit or Chicago, might benefit from this strategy.
A partner in Poland
The 20-day average shipping time to the US from Poland makes Poland a viable alternative to East Asia and other sourcing markets around the globe.
A freight forwarder with years of experience in the Poland-USA shipping lane can help you identify strategies that optimize both your transit time and your cost. When that partner has offices in both the US and Poland, with native Polish-speaking staff who know the business landscape there, you gain an even greater advantage.