USA import LCL & FCL – update 17 Feb 2021

USA importers please read – important information follows;

I’m sure you are aware shipping out of the USA is proving very challenging at present. The ongoing contributing factors remain – port congestion, trucker shortages, equipment shortages, rail congestion, overbooked / infrequent sailings as well weather issues. Unfortunately, more and more shipments are incurring additional charges due to these issues. It is taking shipping lines days to provide a simple FCL booking in some cases. We rarely have an FCL shipment that doesn’t have additional and extra charges due to issues as mandatory rail appointments, changing ERD’s (earliest receipt date) LRD’s (last receival date), cut-off dates without notice. Some additional charges range from USD 450 to USD 4,000 per container. This is absolutely outside our control, outside of our agents control and although we appreciate it is highly troublesome to you our valued customers, with the USA being predominantly an ex-works market, these charges do come down freight collect to the NZ consignees.

ERD / LRD at ramps and ports are constantly changing without notice (akin to vessels calling NZ). Rail and Ports reject the containers because the dates have changed and then the container goes into storage. The next event that can happen is that the shipping line rolls or cancels the booking, resulting in more charges being incurred. We are seeing containers being held up for 2-4 weeks at this point in time, due to shipping line constraints. The shipping lines at this point are then charging per diem / detention / demurrage at origin, along with yard storage and chassis fees.

Regarding truckers in most regions across the USA they are fully booked for two weeks in advance. It is important you are also aware that many USA shippers are only open for 2-4 hours a day and have reduced staffing and some cases – un-manned warehouses.

Please see following link which is an article in the NY times which gives an excellent overview at many of the issues in the USA supply chain is facing at present. There is solution in sight for the short term future.


Following are updates from ours agents’ various offices USA

LOS ANGELES (incl Los Angeles | Longbeach| San Francisco | Portland | Seattle ports)

  • 51 vessels at anchor in harbour today, which means about 10-14 days before most will get to dock.
  • Labour shortages means vessels are taking 1-2 more days longer to unload as well as 1-2 dayus to re-load – so we are experiencing more like 7-10 days to turn a large vessel which pushes back pick upss for imports and return for exports
  • Chassis shortages / imbalance causing more chassis splits or additional chassis rental expenses)

LCL exports (ex USA)

  • This year and especially the past 3-4 weeks have been extremely challenging and impacted LCL service due to shortage of equipment, Los Angeles/Longbeach ports are severely congested, vessels are extremely delayed, limited appointments at terminals, shortage of drivers as well a the spike in import & export volumes
  • Carriers in Los Angeles and even San Francisco / Portland & Seattle are advising us they are overbooked for 8 weeks and our bookings are being declined even with an allocation in place. Just to advise we are constantly calling carriers to get bookings re-installed and for the most part we are successful.
  • Carriers are changing / updating their schedules (in some instances several times a day!). We are working hard to get the best and latest information to your suppliers / shippers.

FCL Exports (ex USA)

  • Vessels are booked out 6-8 weeks or more and getting space in increasingly challenging but rest assured we are working hard for you.
  • Truckers are also fully booked and we find with the lack of equipment the truckers are sometimes cancelling scheduled uplift of containers.


With several bad weather events in recent weeks it has impacted shipping from the New York area.  Covid is also affecting staffing across all sectors of the logistics industry.

Additionally, we have the following market conditions ;  ports are severely congested, vessels are delayed, limited trucking appointments at terminals,  shortage of drivers, as well as the spike in volumes out of the USA.    In the USA we have added additional shifts in our warehouse as well as weekend shifts to try to get things back on track.  But, it is likely to take a few weeks for the New York|New Jersey|Pennsylvania area to recover.  Below is a quick overview of the status on each of the products. 

LCL Exports (ex USA)

  • Currently experiencing regular changes in vessel schedules, ERDs and seeing average vessels delays of 5-7 days
  • Stop-off cargo moving through New York is also been delayed due to rail congestion, rail embargos and shortage of drivers in the US.   Drivers are arriving at the port to find dates have been moved in the short timeframe between container load and arrival at port, meaning containers need to be held back in storage until we can return.

FCL Exports (ex USA)

  • On average vessels are booked 3-4 weeks out and truckers are booked out for 1-2 weeks.  

It is important that you allow for extended transit times on FCLs and we suggest you plan in advance, and be aware that there will be delays.  Drivers are arriving at the port to find dates have been moved in the short timeframe between container load and arrival at port, meaning containers need to be held back in storage until we can return.


It is important that you are aware of the ongoing setbacks with the flow of import containers ex the USA due to overbooked ships, vessel rotations, port omissions and congestion.   

There are rail embargos in Chicago for cargo going to both the East and West coast.     The rail-ramps and ports are heavily congested and we don’t see the situation easing in the near future.

Shipping Lines are cancelling pre-bookings for vessels that are a week or two out due to containers being rescheduled to|from the previous week to the following.   Vessel schedules many times a time based on the port activity and space challenges.    Shipping Lines sharing space on same vessels are also showing different cut-off and departure dates.  We are working through these challenges on your behalf.

In the Midwest region, weather is a huge factor, with snow|ice| freezing temperatures causing major challenges in all areas of Supply Chain.  

There is congestion at rail ramps, due to limited chassis, rail yard space and resources resulting in 5 hour wait times. The port congestion sets back the trains departing from Chicago – there is correlation between the two.

Most containers moving by rail now require rail reservations prior to gating in.    With live-loads, we don’t have the container number until load is finished, and cannot submit rail billing without final paperwork. With one set-back in any of those areas, could delay the container from in gating on time and|or container rejected because they are over capacity and drivers will be turned away and an embargo put in place until the congestion is cleared.   Once they hit allocation, you are locked out until it’s lifted, which could be the next day at midnight, or 2-3 days out, or if over a weekend it might open up again on Monday.  The CY|rail|Carrier industry continues to change and we need to change with it.   As this happens, the shipment will incur additional charges, as trucker will have to store container and re-delivery once appointment received.

Apologies the perhaps negative overview but we think it important you are aware just how dire the USA supply chain is in general. Present day, we consider it the world’s worst in terms of congestion, cost and general disruption.

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