International Ocean Freight Shipping Service


Industry Encyclopedia

International Ocean Freight Shipping Service

Shipping overseas requires careful management of carrier logistics, customs paperwork, and drayage to the final destination. Import supply chains must deal with variables like weather and accidents, and keeping international shipping affordable requires a careful balance of cost and speed.

Ocean freight services are a reliable option for getting imports and exports where they need to go. Freight forwarders can plan your door to door freight transportation and navigate the complexities of global logistics.

Ocean vs Air Freight

Air and ocean freight carriers work hard to provide competitive rates, but ocean freight ends up being more cost-effective. The limited space on airplanes and the higher cost of jet fuel drive up costs significantly for air freight.

Some sellers with small but high-value or perishable goods may find the speed of air freight to be worth paying for. Air freight usually arrives at its destination country within a week, while ocean freight across the Pacific Ocean can take well over a month. However, most won’t need the rapid shipping and find ocean freight to be sufficient with careful planning.

The relative size of the shipment will affect ocean shipping rates. Full Container Load (FCL) shipping requires senders’ cargo to take up most or all of a shipping container, and the sender is charged the rate for the full container. Less than Container Load (LCL) means that a sender’s goods are combined with other shipments, and each sender only pays for their portion of the container.

Per-pound rates are higher with LCL shipping because the carrier has to work to combine and manage multiple sellers’ shipments in one container. Sellers with large amounts of cargo will benefit from FCL rates.

Customs and Duties

Importing and exporting goods requires detailed knowledge of the origin and destination countries’ laws. Different goods are subject to different restrictions, and even common goods like electronics may be subject to surprising regulations.

Clearing a country’s export restrictions is usually simple compared to import clearance procedures. Customs agencies check shipments closely to make sure their paperwork thoroughly and accurately details its contents and packaging.

Any discrepancies in the paperwork can result in costly delays, or in fees from a customs broker. An experienced freight forwarder can make sure the paperwork is done correctly, and help you avoid the extra costs and delays caused by customs brokerage.