International container shipping is not something that everyone is familiar with. The idea to most people is that shipping containers are all the same size as the containers that are pulled by freight trains.
People assume that all of these containers are the same size and they are simply hoisted onto a ship and stacked up neatly then across the sea the ship goes.
The truth is, moving containers across the waters requires logistics and planning. The containers range in size from 20 feet long to 56 feet long. They do not always stack easily, and some containers have open tops or designs that make them perfect for hauling liquids.
What you need to know about the shipping containers used
There are 6 basic types of shipping containers used in international shipping. They are:
- Dry storage containers that come in lengths of 10 feet, 20 feet, and 40 feet. They are enclosed and designed to keep the contents dry and protected during shipping.
- Flat rack containers are made for shipping items like boats, cars, equipment, and such. The sides of these containers fold up or collapse.
- Open-sided containers are meant for shipping things like vegetables. One side of the container can be completely opened and this makes it easier to load the contents in them. Vegetables and produce are often shipped in these containers.
- Open top containers are designed to haul taller than average items like heavy equipment. Logs can also be transported in these containers that have no top.
- Refrigerated containers are cold storage units that are used for foods and pharmaceuticals that must be kept in cold storage or highly regulated temperature during transport.
- Tanks are designed for the transportation of fluids like fuels.
Full Container Loads
When shipping internationally you have two basic options. You can have your items transported in a full container load if you have a really large amount. Many shippers choose this method of transporting their goods because then their goods are the priority on the ship and they get dedicated space and protection during the voyage.
The other option is the less than container load option. This allows several shippers to utilize one freighter to transport their ocean freight. This type of shipping is much cheaper than sending your items on a dedicated ocean freighter carrying only your items.
It is recommended that you use standardized shipping containers when shipping internationally. The standardized containers are easily loaded on ships, trains, or trailers so they are easier to get from one place to another.
The standard sizes are 20 feet or 6.09 meters in length, 40 feet of 12.18 meters in length, and 53 feet or 16.15 meters in length. These are international standards so the containers are easily moved inside the country once they leave the ocean liner.
The standard sizes also keep the weight of the containers at a constant so the equipment used to load and unload will be sure to be able to handle the proposed weight of the container and the contents within it.
Policies and Regulations
There are certain policies and regulations in place that control international shipping. You must have the proper documentation to go with your container so that it will be accepted in the different countries it will travel to or through.
Many items are prohibited for transport and some countries have special tax regulations. You must hire an international shipping company that is capable of helping you create the proper documentation for your items.
The process of international shipping will include an importer who is shipping something from one country to another. You also have an exporter who is shipping something out of one country and to another country.
You can also have a third-party exporter who ships things out of the country on the behalf of someone else.
Ensuring the items that you are shipping is not just recommended it is a crucial part of the process. You want the shipped goods to be insured against possible delays and problems like natural disasters, human theft, human error, piracy, and more. If you have insurance and the ship carrying your freight is struck by a hurricane and the goods are lost or damaged then you will be able to recover the financial costs.
Key Terms to Learn
Customs Clearance: the levies and duties associated with the goes are determined by the customs departments. There are export customs and import customs. The amount of time it takes for freight to pass through customs will vary according to the ports of entry. You should know that most shipping carriers consider the item to have reached the destination when it reaches the import customs of the country it was being shipped to.
Ocean Freight and travel time: When you are shipping internationally across the ocean there is not a set amount of time it takes for a ship to get from point A to point B. The weather, the size of the ship, the weight of the ship, and the route the ship takes will all play a part in the amount of time it takes for the goods to cross the ocean. The number of stops the ship is planned to make is also key factor in the voyage length.
What happens when you call the shipping company?
Typically, when you talk to a container shipping company you will establish a place where they will come to get the container that you are shipping. Then the container will be taken to customs to be approved for departure,
The container will then be taken to the port to be loaded on an ocean freighter. It will cross the ocean to the country of destination where it will once again be taken to a customs office.
Your shipping company should provide tracking information and keep you updated on the whereabouts of your freight at all times.
International shipping is more complicated than in-country shipping because you have the regulations and requirements of two governments to worry about. The proper container shipping company will be able to understand the regulations and help you get all of the correct documentation and regulatory paperwork completed so your packages can travel with no problems.