Port of Virginia



Maritime: Shipbuilding and Repair


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At the Helm of Trade in Hampton Roads

The Port of Virginia is the deepest water harbor on the U.S. East Coast.  It shelters the world’s largest naval base, the largest shipbuilding and repair industrial base, a thriving export coal and bulk trade, and the sixth-largest containerized operation in the United States. Centered around the busy Norfolk Harbor, commercial vessels also steadily move cargo up the James and York Rivers, as well as down the branches of the Elizabeth River.

The Port of Virginia is the second-largest port on the East Coast by tonnage, due in large part to the export of coal, and the third-largest port on the East Coast by container volume, with more than 2.9 million TEUs of cargo moving through its container terminals in 2019. The port is made up of over 55 public and private marine terminals, with the Virginia Port Authority (VPA) operating four deep-water marine terminals, an upriver terminal, and an inland intermodal terminal. Virginia’s 50-foot channels and unobstructed terminal access have allowed the size of the vessels calling at the Port of Virginia to increase significantly.  

Nearly 30 international shipping lines offer direct, dedicated service to and from Virginia, with connections to 200+ countries around the world. In an average week, more than 40 international container, breakbulk, bulk, tanker, and roll-on/roll-off vessels are serviced at the port’s marine terminals. In 2018, more than 2,500 commercial ships called on the Port of Virginia, with 2,327 calling in 2019. This reduction in calls is mostly due to the increased size of vessels calling on the port, increasing efficiencies.


  • 55+ Terminals

  • 22 Suez-class, ship-to-shore cranes
  • 2 Class 1 railroads operating on-dock, with a total of 30 miles of track
  • 50-foot channels, undergoing expansion to 55 feet to be completed by 2024
  • 0 Air Draft Restrictions

#3 East Coast Port in terms of cargo processed

Virginia-based jobs related to Port activity generated $23 Billion in paychecks and benefits to Virginians

Global Reach

The Port of Virginia offers great connectivity with markets around the world, both globally and here in the United States. In total, there are direct services to over 45 countries and indirect to 200+, with our top trading partners being China, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. There are 15 weekly vessel calls to Asia and 13 to Europe. More locally, the Port uses its integration with local logistics to reach key markets with ease. In just two days or less, goods can reach Chicago or Columbus via rail, and 2/3rds of the United States population via truck.

Imports and Exports

  • Top 10 Exports 2019

  • Logs and Lumber
  • Soybeans and Products
  • Paper and Paperboard
  • Wood Pulp
  • Pet and Animal Feeds
  • Grocery Products
  • Field Seeds and Bulbs
  • Auto Parts
  • Woodenware
  • Poultry
  • Top 10 Imports 2019

  • Furniture
  • Auto Parts
  • Plastic Products
  • Toys
  • Paper and Paperboard
  • Auto and Trick Tires and Tubes
  • Fabrics; Incl Raw Cotton
  • Hardware
  • Sheets, Towels, Blankets
  • Metalware
Did you know?

A 2024 expansion plan will make the POV the deepest port on the East Coast at 55 ft

Foreign Trade Zones

Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) are areas which are geographically inside the United States, but are legally considered outside its customs territory. Companies that locate in FTZs can benefit by using special procedures to encourage U.S. activity by reducing, eliminating, or delaying duties.

Benefits of Using a FTZ

  • Duty Deferral: Users can avoid paying duties on imported merchandise until the goods are removed from the FTZ and enter in the U.S. commerce. Duty on machinery is deferred until it is put into production; there is no duty paid on re-exports or scrap.

  • Inverted Tariffs/Duty Reduction: FTZ users can pay lower duty rates on goods produced in the zone when the finished product has a lower duty rate than the imported components and parts.

  • Weekly Entries: Zone users will benefit if they file multiple Customs and Border Protection entries each week. FTZs allow the user to file this paper work once a week at a rate no higher than $485.

  • No Time Constraints: Goods may remain in the zone indefinitely, whether or not it is subject to duty.

  • Customs Compliance: Customs & Border Protection requirements and federal criminal sanctions are deterrents against theft. Cargo that is imported into FTZs have fewer incidents of loss and may result in lower insurance costs.
Additional Resources

Looking for warehousing space?

Click here to view the Virginia Port Authority’s extensive list of warehouses near port terminals.

Looking for commercial marine terminals?

Click here to view the Virginia Maritime Association’s Commercial Marine Facilities Guide.

Looking to expand business operations?

Click here for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership’s site selection page.

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