Container Shipping to and from Spain
Do you want to ship containers to or from Spain? Are you searching for specific information on documentation, customs or pricing? Spain is a key nation for logistics, being home to some of the most strategically important ports in all of Europe. We have all the information to get your containers to or from these ports.
Relevant shipping information
- Is Spain more of an import or export country?
Generally speaking, Spain has a fairly even trade balance. Although usually throughout the year the trade balance is negative as most months of the year, Spain has more imports than exports in terms of absolute value. Spain has historically been a country with an import/export relationship and dependency within EU countries. Most of these transports are carried out by road.
In regard to maritime containers, the main traffic in Spain is imported from Asia (20%), specifically, China, since most of the products imported into Spain are produced here.
Regarding exports, the main destinations apart from European Countries would be Far East (10%), America in general (10%), distributed between the United States and the rest of the Latin American countries, with which Spain has had a historical relationship through great cultural and linguistic connections, which have facilitated the international trade of Spanish companies with these countries.
- How is my cargo getting from port to door or to the port?
In Spain, there are very well-developed infrastructures and connections with the main ports – and at Twill we offer a wide coverage of the Spanish territory, with different logistics solutions that make us adaptable to the needs of our clients wherever they are in the country. The main modes of land transport that we currently offer are truck and combined or multimodal transport (truck + rail).
In general terms, a delivery/collection by truck is usually done in less than 8 hours. This might extend to 24-72h if using combined or multimodal transport, depending on the service demanded and its availability. The railway network for the transport of maritime containers has also increased its capacity and has established itself in recent years as a competitive alternative; a quality service that adapts to the demands of customers, in addition to being very reliable and less polluting than road transport.
There are several well-established corridors in these rail services, from Valencia-Madrid, Algeciras-Madrid and Barcelona-Zaragoza. In addition, new services are continuously being developed to have greater connectivity throughout the national territory and meet the demands of customers in places like Bilbao, Pamplona, Tarragona with the port of Barcelona.
Alongside the strength of truck and rail, there are also other forms of transport between the main ports and secondary ports (usually proximity ports for specific areas of the national territory), such as transport via feeder. This mode of transport usually has a transit time between 3-7 days depending on the port to be served. For this, feeder ships are usually used (smaller ships of about 500-800 TEUs) that make a connection between the main ports (3), Algeciras, Valencia and Barcelona; and others of smaller size (11): Bilbao, Gijón, Marin, Almería, Cartagena, Alicante, Las Palmas, Tenerife, Ceuta and Melilla.
- What is the estimated transit time for shipping a container to/from Spain?
The transit time of a maritime container depends on the origin and destination, the type of service (whether it is a direct service or it is a transshipment service) and the number of ports that the ship has to stopover within the predetermined rotation of the service in question.
For example, in Spain an import from a base port in China, such as Shanghai, takes a certain number of days depending on the starting point or destination in Spain:
Algeciras: 26 days
Barcelona: 30-31 days
Valencia: 33 days
On the contrary, an export from Spanish ports to Shanghai can be increased between 7- and 15-days vs. the import transit times depending on the port of origin.
- Which peak seasons are important for logistics in Spain?
Like the many countries that have their main import origin in China, the main periods of high season and high occupancy usually coincide with local festivities in China, such as Golden Week and Chinese New Year. In addition, at the beginning of summer, usually another peak season in Spain is in June/July coinciding with the imports of the winter campaign from the retail and textile companies.
On the other hand, in exports, there is usually a rebound in the volume of cargo in the months of July and September, because August is the height of the summer season and most companies lower their exports due to the typical holidays. However, in recent years there was a very similar distribution between the summer months. In other words, this is a “seasonal nature” that minimizes the logistical impact, both in companies and suppliers. In addition, exports to Muslim countries also usually have a peak season prior to the Ramadan holiday.
- Do I need an insurance to ship from to/from Spain?
Comprehensive insurance is not mandatory to ship any type of merchandise to Spain; in the end, it will depend on the Incoterm 2020 agreed between buyer and seller in said transaction. Incoterms are rules developed by the International Chamber of Commerce, which are used in international sales contracts. What do incoterms regulate?
They define where the merchandise is delivered
The distribution of risks during the transport
The distribution of expenses between the parties
Customs in export and import
Find out more about Incoterms®.
If your goods are not insured or you need to increase the current coverage in your shipments. At Twill we offer Value Protect, which extends the usual coverage that the Bill of Lading provides.
- How is Customs Clearance handled in Spain?
Any company that imports and/or exports from other countries not belonging to the European Union must carry out customs clearance. Customs processes or procedures are usually different depending on the country in which we are located. In Spain, Twill has a company that acts as a customs agent and that also belongs to the A.P. Moller-Maersk Group. This company is Maersk Logistics & Services Spain (formerly Transamar), a company with extensive experience in the customs world and with more than 30 years of history in Spain.
In order to carry out shipments on behalf of the company, we need a Clearance Authorization from the company, which can be global or per operation, in order to carry out customs clearances on behalf of the importer and/or exporter.
The necessary documents to present to customs and to be able to carry out this procedure are commercial invoice, packing list, transport document (Bill of Lading) and DUA (Unique Customs Document) of import or export depending on the clearance to be carried out.
You can find more information about customs clearance here.
- What are popular/common trade lanes and main ports in Spain?
The main ports in Spain are Algeciras, Valencia and Barcelona. The port of Algeciras is owned
by APMT (a company belonging to the AP Moller-Maersk holding, to which Maersk and Twill also belong). Algeciras is the most important port in Spain and one of the most important in Europe and the entire Mediterranean. The strategic location makes it a very important international hub and transhipment port (approximately 95% of the cargo at the port are transhipment containers that have a destination other than Spain).
Valencia is the second port in size and importance in Spain, as well as the main port of entry and exit of all merchandise with destination/origin Madrid.
The third port in Spain would be Barcelona, which has a wide coverage and which currently serves the entire northwestern part of Spain (Catalonia, Aragon, Navarra, La Rioja and even much of the Basque Country) in addition to being very interesting for the industrial fabric of Southern France.
Ports and offices in Spain
Avda. de la Hispanidad, 2
Algeciras, Cadiz 11207
Puerto de Alicante
Prolongación Sur – Muelle 23
Muelle Levante s/n
Almeria, Almeria 04071
Av. Estany de Port, 91
Port de Barcelona.
08820 El Prat de Llobregat
Muelle 1. Ampliacion. Puerto de Bilbao
Plaza del Rey, 8 Edificio Real
Muelle de La Osa, Tinglado nº1
Puerto de El Musel
Avenida de los Cambulloneros (Muelle Virgen del Pìno)
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria , 35008
Tomas Quevedo Ramírez, s/n Edif. A.P.L.P.
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Las Palmas 35008
Muelle de Canovas, s/n
Malaga, Malaga 29001
Muelle Comercial, s/n
Maritima De Contenedores
Calle Muelle (Ig Puerto de Alicante) 11
Avda de la Marina Espanola 4
Puerto de Huelva
Muelle Sur, Huelva
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Vía de servicio, s/n
Nueva Terminal del Dique del Este
38180 Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Lugar Muelle De Levante, s/n
Muelle Príncipe Felipe, s/n
Muelle MSC, s/n
Puerto de Valencia
Muelle de Guixar, s/n
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