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Pre-Carriage versus On-Carriage

Posted on Tuesday, January 12th by

The shipping industry can be quite confusing at times unless one familiarises themselves with the specialised terminology. However, this can prove to be quite a challenging task, as both non-experts and experts in the field can confirm. A quick look at associations between similar terms such as pre-carriage or on-carriage should be quite eloquent. So what is the difference between these two terms, for example?

A very general definition of the opposing concepts of pre-carriage and on-carriage will explain the former as referring to all those operations to be carried out prior to a container being loaded and, by contrast, the latter as pinpointing to all those operations to be carried out after the same container has been unloaded. However, a closer analysis will reveal a number of very clear differences between the two shipping concepts.

As far as pre-carriage is concerned, this term is used to denote any type of movement carried out within the perimeter of an inland area before the cargo is loaded onto the carrying ship at a port of loading. It should be noted that this activity may be carried out at the exact location of the port of loading or in its vicinity. For instance, an empty container may be released in Johannesburg, then transferred to Pretoria to be packed and then finally transferred again to the Durban port by rail or road. This would be a valid example of a pre-carriage operation. The concepts of carrier haulage and merchant haulage should also be noted in this context. The former concept involves the activity to be carried out by the client being carried out by the shipping line instead. In this case, the bill of lading will feature Pretoria as the point of origin of the shipment. The latter, on the other hand, involves the activity being carried out by either the transporter or the client.

The term of on-carriage, on the other hand, encompasses any kind of movement carried out within the perimeter of an inland area after the cargo has been unloaded at a port of discharge. As in the case of pre-carriage operations, the movement may be carried out either at the exact location of the port of discharge or in its vicinity. For example, a full container may be unloaded in the Durban port, then transported to the Johannesburg City Deep terminal by rail and then transported further to Sasolburg for the unpacking operation to be completed. Such an operation classifies as a standard on-carriage operation. Once again, the concepts of carrier haulage and merchant haulage stand should be mentioned in this context. As a reminder, carrier haulage involves the shipping line handling the movement in the client’s stead, whereas the concept of merchant haulage involves it being handled by either the transporter or the client. In this particular case, where the cargo is discharged at Durban and is then transferred to Johannesburg and then Sasolburg, the bill of lading will feature Sasolburg as the end destination.

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