What’s the Difference Between Courier and Air Freight?


Industry Encyclopedia

What’s the Difference Between Courier and Air Freight?


Courier is a ‘door-to-door’ service through companies such asTNT, FedEx, and DHL.These companies will arrange to pick up from the factory and handle customs clearance at both the destination and origin ports, along with payment of duty and taxes.

Air freight is similar to shipping an LCL container in that the service is port to port (airport to airport in this instance).  A forwarding agent will be required to handle customs clearance and to arrange internal delivery (haulage) to your door.


How Do I Decide Which is Best?

Delivery through a courier is the simplest method as you don’t need a forwarding agent to handle customs clearance, payment of tax and duty, and internal delivery.  Courier services are also typically faster than air freight.

When it comes to pricing, for small chargeable weights (see below for formula of chargeable weights) less than 500kg, a courier is more economical.

It’s important to note that we are talking about ‘chargeable weight’, which is the greater of either the actual weight or the volumetric weight of a shipment.

Think of it this way, a 100kg parcel of linen will have a much larger volume (box size) than a 100kg parcel of batteries.  It will, therefore, take up more space on the plane. Freight services account for this differential through the volumetric weight formula.