When you need to get cargo to Guam fast, air freight is your best bet. This mode of transportation can move freight to Guam in as little as a few days, and it has the added benefit of subjecting your cargo to minimal handling.


In this guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know to send air freight to Guam with ease. We’ll cover 1) the main advantages of air freight over other modes of transportation, 2) whether your air cargo needs to clear Guam customs, and 3) five must-knows to make planning your next shipment a snap.


In This Article:

Let’s start with what sets air freight apart from other modes of transportation.


Why Choose Air Freight? 3 Advantages to Consider

Air freight is often the most expensive way to move cargo to Guam. However, that cost buys you three distinct advantages:

Advantage #1: Shorter Timelines

If you’ve got something that absolutely has to get to (or from!) Guam in the shortest timeline possible, air freight is the way to go. In fact, when FEMA urgently needed to move recovery supplies to Guam in the wake of Typhoon Mawar, they chose air freight to get those initial supplies to the island as soon as possible.


In contrast, ocean freight from California takes about two weeks in transit time to Guam. When you add in freight cut-offs, loading, and unloading, you’re probably looking at about three weeks from start to finish. (Read more about how long it takes to ship freight to Guam.)


When your timeline is critical, air freight is far and away your best choice for moving cargo. Its shorter delivery times can give a business an edge by getting goods in the hands of customers faster.

Advantage #2: Minimal Handling

Items that move to or from Guam via ocean freight are subject to all kinds of forces during their journey—loading and unloading, plus the wind and waves during the two-week ocean transit. (That’s why packaging your ocean freight correctly is so important!) As careful as the carriers who touch your container are, ocean freight sometimes arrives with an occasional bump or bruise.


In contrast, air freight shipments are subject to minimal handling, so it arrives at its destination in impeccable shape. Those who sell luxury goods in Guam’s high-end stores especially appreciate this aspect of air cargo. Their items can only be sold in perfect condition, and they’ll often choose air freight for that reason.

Advantage #3: Fewer Handling Charges (or None at All!)

If you’ve ever looked at an ocean freight invoice, you’ll see all kinds of line items, including terminal handling charges, drayage charges, wharfage charges, and more. These can really start to add up.


In contrast, air freight shipments are generally subject to fewer “extra” charges, although some companies may add on documentation, handling, or other miscellaneous fees. Approved Freight Forwarders doesn’t charge any additional fees. We only charge for the air freight itself. This can make it a lot easier to understand your all-in cost for moving goods to Guam. For some shippers, it can make choosing air freight more economical.


Note: Air freight going to Guam has to pass through the Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA). Clearing Guam customs comes with an additional charge. We’ll cover that next!

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Weekly Air Freight Consolidations to Guam

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly air freight solution, consider a consolidation, also called a consol. In an air freight consolidation, different shippers’ cargo is gathered in a warehouse, and then it’s all sent to the same destination at the same time. Essentially, these shippers “share” space in a larger shipment—and share the cost.


Sending your item in a consolidation might mean waiting a bit longer in contrast to a dedicated air freight shipment. However, it’s significantly less expensive.


In partnership with our sister company, DeWitt Guam, Approved sends a weekly air freight consolidation to Guam. If you deliver your freight to our City of Industry, CA warehouse by noon on Thursday, it will arrive on Guam on Monday.

To qualify, your shipment:

  • Must measure less than or up to 20’ long, 8’ high, and 8’ wide
  • Must not contain perishables, pets, or vegetation
  • May contain hazardous materials, dependent on airline approval
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5 Must-Knows About Guam Air Freight

To add ease to your next Guam air freight shipment, we’ve compiled our list of the top five things you need to know. With these distinctions, you’ll avoid the most common pitfalls and simplify your future air freight shipments.


Must-Know #1: All Shipments to Guam Must Pass Through Customs

As we mentioned above, Guam has its own customs agency. The Guam Customs and Quarantine Agency (CQA) clears all arriving shipments to Guam, both international and domestic.

This means customs fees for air freight shipments:


The first 100 lbs. of air cargo are assessed a $125.00 fee, and a $.0012 fee will be charged for every pound thereafter.


You’ll also need to collect the right paperwork for the CQA, including a commercial invoice. Your forwarder can assist you in gathering all the required documentation.

Will You Need to Pay Use Tax on Your Air Freight Shipment?

Guam’s use tax law states that “Every person who imports into Guam, or acquires in Guam from any other person, any property for his use or consumption shall be subject to 4% Use Tax based on the landed value of such property. This is not applicable to items imported for resale.”

In other words, if you’re importing items intended for business or personal use, your shipment will be subject to a 4% use tax. This tax must be paid before your items are released to you.

However, if you’re running a licensed business in Guam and sending items to the island intended for resale, your shipment will not be subject to the 4% use tax. You will, though, pay the 4% gross receipt tax when the goods are sold on Guam.

These rules apply to both domestic and international air freight shipments to Guam.

By the way, if you’re sending air cargo from Guam to the U.S., it will be considered a domestic shipment. However, your shipment will still need to clear U.S. Customs at its first point of entry. Your forwarder can assist with preparing the paperwork you need for quick and easy clearance.

Must-Know #2: Air Freight Comes in Different Service Levels

Above, we mentioned our weekly consolidated air freight shipment to Guam. Consolidated service is just one of several air freight service levels available. Higher levels of service mean faster delivery, but they also mean a higher cost.


No matter your budget, it’s important to get a sense of the entire landscape so you know what’s available to you—just in case:

  • Air Charter – Just as it sounds, an air charter involves hiring an entire airplane for your sole use. This is the top level of service for air freight.
  • Part Charter – A high-priority air freight service that allows you to secure a spot on a scheduled charter flight.
  • First Flight Out – For cargo that needs to move quickly, first flight out service means your cargo moves on the next available flight(s) between two points.
  • Express – This priority-level service books space on the first available flight with the quickest transit time.
  • Standard – General, all-around air freight service. Compared to options like ocean freight, standard air freight offers a relatively speedy delivery time.
  • Deferred – This lower-cost service puts your cargo on flights that are more convenient for the airline. Rates are often cheaper, but longer transit times are also likely.
  • Consolidated – The lowest-cost air freight service, in which a freight forwarder accumulates freight and ships either on a set schedule or once the freight reaches a certain weight/volume.

Not sure which service is right for you? Talk to your forwarder about your goals and budget, and they’ll match you with the right service.

Must Know #3: Not All Providers Offer Pickups & Deliveries on Guam

Some air freight providers are just that: They deal solely with airport-to-airport cargo shipments, with no options for door-to-door service. Other providers may be able to offer door pick-up and delivery on the U.S. mainland, but not on Guam.


For maximum convenience, look for a one-stop provider who can offer door-to-door air freight services on both ends. You might not need it right now. However, down the road, that kind of flexibility can come in handy. It will save you from calling (and coordinating with!) a multiple providers, should you need help moving your cargo to or from the airport.

Must-Know #4: A Multi-Modal Carrier Can Offer Advantages

Along those same lines, look for a provider that can assist with multiple modes of transportation—such as air freight and ocean freight. At the end of the day, these providers can offer you more flexibility, both in terms of transit times and budget.

For example, let’s say you’re running a business on Guam, and you’ve run out of some inventory you need urgently. However, you don’t need the entire shipment, just a couple of pieces to get you through.


If you’re working with a provider who handles air freight and ocean freight, you can solve this problem with one phone call. For example, a freight forwarder could arrange to move a small shipment of inventory via air freight, with the rest to follow in a few weeks via ocean freight, a much cheaper mode of transportation. This will get you the inventory you need, and save you some money along the way. Rather than having to contact multiple carriers, a forwarder could arrange it—and coordinate the whole thing for you.


This kind of partnership can add significant ease to your Guam freight going forward.


By the way, FEMA used a similar strategy to move recovery materials to Guam after Typhoon Mawar. As we mentioned earlier, they used air freight to move critical supplies to the island in the immediate aftermath of the storm. Then, they followed those air freight shipments with ocean freight shipments to support ongoing recovery efforts in the weeks that followed.

Must-Know #5: Some Items Can’t Go Via Air Freight

Finally, you should also know that air freight comes with a few more restrictions than ocean freight.

  • Large, oversized items (bigger than 20’ long, 8’ high, and 8’ wide) are extremely challenging to move via air freight.
  • Additionally, heavy items can be difficult—and they’ll also be expensive to move.
  • Finally, certain hazardous materials can’t be shipped via air freight. For example, lithium batteries have become increasingly challenging to move, ever since the FAA banned the transportation of lithium ion cells and batteries as cargo on passenger aircraft. They can still travel on cargo-only planes, but that means fewer options for shippers.

To sum it up, despite the advantages that air freight has to offer, some shipments are simply better suited—or only suited—for ocean freight.


If you’re looking for options for hard-to-ship materials, reach out to one of our experts! We’ve been moving all kinds of freight to Guam since 1991, and we can get your cargo to the island, safely and affordably.

Choosing the Right Mode of Transportation

For certain shipments, air freight is the perfect solution with plenty of advantages. For others, ocean freight is the way to go. However, now that you have a deeper understanding of Guam air freight, you’re perfectly positioned to decide which one is right for your business—and your budget.


If you’re moving freight to Guam, our experts would be happy to help! We offer air freight and ocean freight solutions to Guam, depending on your needs and your budget. Reach out for a free quote, and we’ll be in touch.

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