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Sea freight international shipping guide - The 7 key steps

Shipping internationally sounds like it could be a complicated process, especially for a first-time shipper. We aim to offer our customers a better understanding of the shipping process, and the important steps along the your cargo's journey across the oceans on its way to the destination point.

In the below guideline, you will find out more about all of the steps involved in the transportation process, and also about other important facts you may need to consider when shipping internationally.

1. The Export Haulage

Export haulage is the very first step when it comes to the shipping process. After the booking has been completed, and all the terms agreed upon, the pick-up is scheduled. The cargo is usually collected by the freight forwarder and transported by road to a ship-from Warehouse. At the warehouse, your freight will be unloaded by the assigned employees and it will be prepared for export and a booking will be made on the next available vessel. At this point, the freight forwarder will receive the name of the vessel and ETA (estimated time of arrival) and send this to the customer.

2. Export Customs Clearance

When shipping your cargo abroad, there are 2 customs processes involved: the export customs process after the goods have been collected, and the import customs process, once the goods have arrived in the destination country.

What is very important for customers to understand is that all shipments addressed to other countries are subject to customs clearance, so the authorities can check if the goods meet all the legal requirements. One of the necessary documents is called a Commercial Invoice. When placing the booking on our website, you will be asked to complete the Commercial Invoice online, and it's extremely important to provide all the necessary details as failure to do so will delay the shipment.

3. Origin Handling

This process refers to the handling of the cargo from the ship-from warehouse onto the vessel that will carry your goods to the destination country. This process is coordinated by the freight forwarder, however many parties are implied. After the cargo has been received and officially inspected, it will get packed and consolidated with other consignments into a container, ready to be placed on the ship.

4. The Ocean Freight

Once the container has been loaded onto the vessel, it will depart the country of origin and make its way destination port, this can take anywhere from seven to sixty five days depending on the final destination of your cargo. You will be provided with the name of the vessel and a website with which to track the ship across the oceans.

Everything up until and including this stage is included in our door-to-port and door-to-door services. If you have booked a door-to-port service, there would be extra charges to be paid for by the consignee once the goods reach the destination port, such as local port and handling charges, customs clearance for destination, duty, import taxes and final delivery. Ideally, the receiver will already have a broker/customs agent in place at destination and their details can be passed to the shipping line.

5. Import customs clearance

The import customs clearance process will usually take place before the cargo leaves the country of origin, and the consignee is responsible for its cost. The process can be performed by the freight forwarder, an agent appointed by the freight forwarder or by a customs broker chosen by the consignee.

6. Destination Handling

The destination handling process includes the unloading of the container from the vessel and unpacking your cargo from the container. This comes at a further cost which would apply when the consignment arrived in the destination country. The charge can be paid by the sender or the receiver, but must be paid for before the goods can be released to the consignee.

7. Import Haulage

The import haulage represents the last step in the transportation process and means the final receiving of the goods by the consignee. Depending on the destination country and what the booking terms are, the freight forwarder can arrange the delivery to the receiver's address.

Improve the shipping process to grow your business

Planning a shipment overseas can be a challenging process, especially for a first-time shipper. People often look for the best price, howevere there are many other aspects which should be considering along side the cost. If you haven't shipped abroad before, there are many aspects you may need to know such as taxes and duties, shipping terms, service types etc.

We believe that a freight-forwarder represents real help for a new shipper. The main advantage is the information and advice you receive. According to your budget and your needs, they will offer you different shipping alternatives, and you can choose the one that suits you the most.

Apart from the most competitive prices we are able to offer you, we will also provide you with valuable information about the transportation industry which will help you in the future, especially if you will become a regular shipper.

Apart from all the steps in the transportation process, the customers should also make themselves familiar with the different types of services they have access to, depending on their needs.

Another important aspect is the pallet preparation process. From our experience, almost all new shippers have questions when it comes to preparing the pallet. We have prepared a guideline and instructional videos on How to prepare a pallet, where our customers can learn more about the packing process to ensure the safe transit of the cargo.

If there is any additional information you may need, please feel free to contact us via email, phone call or website chat, and our team will assist you in a very timely manner.

If you have any questions regarding our services, tracking your parcel or advice, we're here


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