Buyers in the US look to Lithuania to source everything from chemicals to furniture to machinery. Of course, finding the product you want at the right price gets you only partway toward a successful deal. To make this sourcing strategy worthwhile, carefully managing the time and costs involved, you need to understand all the nuances of shipping from Lithuania to the USA.
Booking the freight
Say you’re in Dayton, Ohio and you’re buying a container of unassembled furniture from a seller in central Lithuania. Chances are, the purchasing terms put you, not the seller, in charge of transporting that product from start to finish.
That’s a good thing. It means that, working with a knowledgeable logistics partner, you’ll determine which transportation services to use every step of the way, making decisions that influence how long the shipment takes and what it costs.
Your first decision is how to book the door-to-door shipment. Since most of the transport will be by ocean, you might assume you should call a steamship line.
That would be a mistake. Obviously, ocean carriers know how to move containers across the ocean. But steamship lines often let their customers down when it comes to sourcing dray capacity – that is, arranging to transport your container to or from the port. That problem is worse today than ever, as worldwide supply chain snarls make it especially hard to find truck or rail capacity. You might book a door-to-door trip, but if the line has trouble securing ground transportation, that could leave your cargo stranded for days at the destination port.
For door-to-door cargo shipping, you’re better off working with a non-vessel operating common carrier. An NVOCC does everything a steamship line can do except operate its own vessels. An NVOCC whose portfolio includes trucking services taps its network of service partners to find the transportation you need for every leg of the trip. Also, because it does business with multiple steamship lines, an NVOCC can offer a wide range of routing and pricing options.
How long does it take? What does it cost?
In normal times, it takes about a month to ship a 40-foot container door to door from Lithuania to the Eastern US, and the cost is about $4,500 to $5,000. Unfortunately, we’re living in extremely abnormal times. The worldwide supply chain logjam has slowed trans-Atlantic shipping and pinched capacity hard. As of Fall 2021, shipping from Lithuania to the USA takes five or six weeks, and the cost is roughly double what it was two years ago.
Strategies for shipping out of Lithuania
There is no direct trans-Atlantic ocean service from Lithuania. That gives you two choices for shipping to the US. You can have your container drayed to the country’s main port, Klaipėda, and then load it on a feeder vessel bound for a major port such as Antwerp or Bremerhaven. There, your cargo is transloaded onto a trans-Atlantic vessel. The other choice is to transport the container by truck, or truck-plus-rail directly to a major Western European port for loading.
Lithuania’s road network has improved in recent years, but it doesn’t offer as many routing options as you’d find, for example, in Poland or Germany. So as you plan a truck move, allow a bit more time than you would in a country with a more developed network.
The strategy you ultimately choose for shipping out of Lithuania depends on the answers to several questions. How far from Klaipėda is your supplier located? How soon do you need the product? How much are you prepared to spend? What kind of truck or rail rates can you get? A partner that understands Lithuania’s business environment and transportation network can help you choose a solution that fits your goals.
The value of an owned office
Some NVOCCs rely on freight agents in Lithuania to manage arrangements on that end. Unfortunately, the agent assigned to your freight might also be handling shipments for many other US-based NVOCCs and forwarders. Will your cargo get the care it requires? Who knows? But when your NVOCC owns offices in both Lithuania and the US, as I.C.E. Transport does, your shipment becomes a top priority for in-country experts who speak Lithuanian and understand that country’s business landscape.
Are you shipping from Lithuania to the USA? Put an expert on your team
When you source from Lithuania, your main concern is finding an excellent product at the right price. You’re probably not eager to sign up for a lot of extra work. But hard work is what it takes to plan and execute a cost-effective, trouble-free shipment.
A global logistics partner with deep experience shipping from Eastern Europe to the USA will take that work off your hands, producing better results than you could on your own. To get started on shipping from Lithuania to the USA, contact I.C.E. Transport.