Timing Your Shipment

Leaving more than enough time for your shipment helps for a smooth move. We suggest starting the moving process three to six months before your move date. It is important to recognize that moving internationally cannot be scheduled with great (or sometimes even reasonable) accuracy. Understanding the variables within your timeline will help you make better decisions and adjust your expectations.

​Please note: Because of worldwide congestion related to Covid, there is ever-increasing irregularity and waiting times at ocean, air, truck, and rail terminals. Though Kef and its agents are meticulous in our due diligence with confirmed reservations for container and vessel, containers are sometimes unavailable and sailings are cancelled or greatly delayed. The terminals and trucking, air, and steamship companies add new charges with little or no notice which are added to your invoice, though we do our best to avoid them. Click here for a NY Times article.

Timing is unreliable–shipments can be early or late.

Everyone wishes to keep to planned times, but in most cases timing is approximate and cannot be guaranteed. The overall unpredictability comes from unforeseen earliness and delays at every stage of the process, which, when they happen in series, can compound to dramatic effect. Time changes happen with surprising regularity in every part of the shipping process–packers, pickup truck, container, steamship, port handling, train from Haifa to Ashdod, container unloading, customs clearing, and delivery.  To avoid waiting for pickup, delivery or service agents, ask them to call you ½ hour before they expect to arrive and call from time to time for updates.   Any time you are given a time estimate or range, double it and/or add 4 hours.    Expect the unexpected.    Do not base your actions or inactions on simple reasoning;  be pro-active and make no assumptions.

Timing of Air Freight Shipments

Air freight is every bit as uncertain and unpredictable as sea freight. In fact, more so, since air freight shipments are often separated into separate components, which arrive at different times.   As with sea shipments, customs clearing can take a day for a week or more.   Do not be surprised if there are storage charges.       Customs clearing time depends  on customs,  security (homeland security in the USA), the port of arrival, having all the documents received in a timely manner and with form and content found to be acceptable and coherent by customs, security, port authorities.

Timing of Different Containers

Exclusive container shipments (FCL) are faster and more predictable than shared container shipments (LCL).

LCL’s need to be matched up to fill the container, and on the delivery side, matched up again to fill the truck. If you are not shipping out of the busiest port, New Jersey/New York this difference is increased. Therefore, LCL shipments take longer and have more variability in their timing.


Containers that arrive in Haifa and are sent by rail to Ashdod have 2 days of free storage in Ashdod. Shipments to be cleared and delivered from Haifa have 4 days. If all goes well, it can take a week to clear through customs and deliver a container.

LCL delivery takes from one to several weeks after clearing customs. At origin and destination, the smaller the shipment, the less predictable the time of shipping and delivery, the greater chance of delay.

Some causes of delay

Not having opened a file at customs, prepared and presented documents before ship’s arrival, accepted delivery when offered, or completion of payment.
Container unavailability, difficulty filling a shared container, vessel overbooking, cancelling, changing its closeout date, missed connections, engine breakdown, deleting ports from its schedule, delays or mistakes in documents, strikes, wars, congestion of ports, vessels, trains, trucks, or delivery teams. Risk of delay is greater in summer, when most people are moving.

Containers loading from storage are more often delayed. “Live load” containers, where goods are put directly into the shipping container which is sent straight to port have greater urgency and are less frequently rescheduled.

Type East Coast West Coast
FCL 5-7 weeks (DC & Florida) 8-10 weeks. They change in China which can cause delays of a few weeks
4-5 weeks (New York)
Florida sailings sometimes change vessels in Jamaica, which adds 1-2 weeks
LCL Minimum 6 weeks. 8-12 weeks on average. In winter, add 2-6 weeks Minimum 7 weeks. 9-13 weeks on average. In winter, add 2-6 weeks.

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