Shipping Considerations

caribbean shipping sizes
Container Sizes

Air or Ocean?
Unfortunately, we in the Caribbean cannot ship by truck or train thus shipment must be made by air or ocean.  These limited options, plus our considerable distances from mainland and foreign ports, strongly influence shipping times and costs.

Which will it be, Air or Ocean?  The following factors could affect your decision.

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Size and Weight
Will it fit on the airplane that serves the Virgin Islands?  Generally items that do not exceed 2,500 pounds per piece, and are not more than 48" in any dimension, can be shipped here by air without special arrangements.

Anything larger or heavier should be coordinated with a local air cargo company before you ship.  (Shippers in the States and around the world have no idea of our capabilities and limits, Four Star Air Cargo can supply you with a package size guide.)

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Origin and Destination
A shipment from Miami has equal access to the Virgin Islands by air or ocean.  On the other hand, an ocean shipment from Phoenix or Las Vegas would need to be trucked to an Atlantic Port such as Miami, or to a Mississippi port to go via the Gulf of Mexico, or to a Pacific port to go via the Panama Canal.  These factors will influence the cost and transit time greatly, and might favor air freight.

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Commodity being Shipped
Shipments that lend themselves to air freight tend to have a relatively high value per pound.  One would not send milk via air from Miami, because the cost of shipment would exceed the value of the milk.  However, air freight costs would normally be only a fraction of the value of items such as cameras, electronics, and auto parts.  Certain kinds of perishables such as fresh-cut flowers usually must go by air, since they are severely time limited.

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Acceptable Transit Time
If your ocean liner is stuck in port for lack of a $5 repair part, it may be worth thousands of dollars to charter a Learjet to deliver it quickly.  A dwindling stock of Cadillac tires, however, could probably tolerate a few days lead time.

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Affordable Shipping Cost
Once again, how badly do you need it?  Large shipments are considerably less expensive to ship by ocean.  Under about 200 pounds, the difference is less than you may think.  In some cases, small shipments may be cheaper by air! 

Sometimes, it may pay to reorder frequently by air, rather than warehouse and insure a large inventory, and incur the associated carrying costs.

Whether you decide to use air or ocean freight, you should arrange for your shipping locally.  Virgin Islands freight companies all have relationships with counterparts in the States and around the world.  They can make arrangements to expedite your cargo.

Once the arrangements are made, insist that the shipper follow your written instructions exactly.  Every time a shipper who is not intimately familiar with the pitfalls of shipping to and from the Virgin Islands makes a bad decision, it will cost you time and money.

If you choose ocean freight, contact your local ocean shipping representative.  If you choose air cargo, read on.  Some common questions are discussed.

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