Ocean freight companies play a major role in the international trade industry. With so many to choose from, it is important that you gather information about each freight company in order to make an informed comparison. Be sure to provide them with as many details as possible so that they can offer you a proper, accurate quote. Use our convenient forms to receive up to 5 free quotes from ocean freight companies around the world!
Ocean freight is just one form of shipping; you can also transport goods via land or air. Recently, intermodal transport is also being used, which combines any of the three transit methods. Ocean shipping is often the slowest method of transport when compared to road or air; however, there are many benefits to moving goods via sea.
Cargo vessels vary in size and can therefore handle all types of shipments. It's important for you to determine if the cargo ship is big enough to accommodate your shipment. If you will be moving full container loads (FCL) then you should be able to inform the ocean freight company of the height, length and width of the container(s) you'll be moving, as well as the weight. The container(s) can be picked up from your warehouse, factory or port. If you don't have enough goods to fill up an entire container, then your products will most likely be placed on a pallet and you'll need to share the container with others. This is known as a less than a container load (LCL) shipment. Some companies will do the packing for you; others require you to prepare everything in advance. Or perhaps you need to find a sea freight company that can transport bulk cargo. In that case, make sure they have special equipment to accommodate your oversized cargo.
Which ocean freight company you select will also depend upon whether you will be moving items domestically or internationally. It's important to be aware of the export and import laws in each country, plus the related port charges, consular fees and additional taxes. When you pay for the shipment, you will receive a bill of lading. This document is extremely important; not only is it a receipt, it also serves as a contract for the transit of the goods and you will need to present it when obtaining insurance. Some companies will help you prepare your shipper's export declarations (SEDs) while others will expect you to handle this on your own.
It's advisable to work with ocean freight companies that are bonded, insured, and licensed by their home country's maritime authority. You should also check if they are a member of any related associations such as the British International Freight Association (BIFA), the American Society of Transportation and Logistics (AST&L), Shipping Australia or the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
You might find yourself working with an ocean transportation intermediary instead of a direct company. A freight forwarder is one example. This is an individual or company who acts as a middle man, arranging shipments and schedules and taking care of all the documentation needed. They can provide a great deal of stress relief since most of the organizing falls on them. A non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) is another type of intermediary. These companies are also required to be licensed.
Don't forget to take note of the origin and final points of destination. Some companies will transfer goods only from port to port, while others will pick up and drop off from factories or warehouses too. With all of these factors in mind, you'll be able to pick the ocean freight company that best suits your needs.