Opening a new business? Or just shopping around to ensure you’re getting the best price available for your full container (FCL) shipments to Hawaii?


No matter why you’re researching the cost for shipping a container to Hawaii, we’ve got the answers you need! We’ve been moving Pacific freight since 1991, and we’ll share all our expertise in this arena with you below.


First, though, we want to give you a lay of the land so you can understand how domestic ocean freight pricing works.

ocean steamship freight

The FMC, Tariffs, and Hawaii Container Prices 

The ocean freight industry in the United States is regulated by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). Their mission is to:

  • Ensure a competitive and reliable international ocean transportation supply system that supports the U.S. economy.
  • Protect the public from unfair and deceptive practices.

As part of this mission, the FMC requires that ocean freight carriers’ tariff rates and charges are made available to the public electronically. In other words, every carrier has to provide access to their tariff rates so that anyone can look them up online.


So, if you wanted to look up the rates to ship a full container between the Port of Los Angeles and Honolulu Harbor, you could go to the carrier’s website and search through their rates/tariffs.


However, if you go to the Matson or Pasha website to review their rates/tariffs, you’ll start to see why “How much does it cost to ship a container to Hawaii?” can quickly become a complex question. Like many other vessel-owning common carriers (VOCCs), Matson and Pasha ask for a number of details to offer you a price for your shipment, including:


Origin Where your shipment starts 
NOTE: Shipments from Hawaii to the mainland are often less expensive since the steamship lines see less demand going eastbound 

Destination Where your shipment will end its journey 

And maybe most importantly: Commodity 


Commodity means what you’re shipping. In domestic ocean transportation (i.e., any U.S. destination to Hawaii), the contents of your container will significantly impact your price.

If you’ve got a pretty simple shipment—maybe a 40′ container full of mattresses—you might think that matching your shipment with the right tariff item would be simple. However, if you start browsing the tariffs, you’ll discover:

  • A search on “mattresses” brings up 23 tariff items in the Matson list. Pasha lists 5.
  • Even a search as straightforward as “tires” produces 14 tariff items in the Matson list. You’ll find 16 tariff items in the Pasha database when you search for “tires.”

Each one of those tariff items means a different price for your container.

So which tariff item will your shipment fall under? That’s something you need to discuss with the carrier or with the freight forwarder who’s handling your FCL shipment. At the end of the day, your rate will be calculated based on the tariff item the carrier places your shipment in.

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So, How Much Does It Cost to Ship a Container to Hawaii?

Because the price for every commodity is different, the cost to ship a full container to Hawaii can vary significantly, depending on what you’re sending. In our experience, we’ve seen costs that range anywhere from $5,000–$16,000 for a full container load (FCL) shipment of general commodities to Hawaii.


If you think that seems like a broad range, you’d be right. And if you find navigating the tariff rates somewhat complex, we wouldn’t blame you.


That’s where freight forwarders like Approved come in. When you talk to one of our experts, we’ll ask you a series of questions so we help you figure out exactly how much your shipment will cost. We’ll ask you:

  • What you’re shipping—exactly; as you can see, it really matters!
  • Where you want it picked up
  • Where you want it dropped off

Then, we’ll help you find the most cost-effective method for shipping your full container load to Hawaii. No need to navigate the system on your own. Plus, we can also arrange for door-to-door solutions for maximum convenience.


Finally, we can also evaluate whether FCL shipments make the most sense for your business and your budget. In some cases, you might be better off with a less-than-container load (LCL) solution in which your goods share a container with other goods bound for the same destination. This option has proven cost-effective for a number of our customers.


When you get in touch with us, we’ll walk you through all the potential solutions to find the one that’s right for your supply chain—and your bottom line.


Ready to Ship Your Container to Hawaii?

Reach out to our experts. We’ll help you take a long-term, holistic view of your Hawaii freight needs to help you secure the best rates for shipping full container loads (FCL) to Hawaii.


We also do less-than-container loads (LCL)/consolidations to all four major islands—Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. We’d love to help you create a shipping solution that works for your business.

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