We know that it can be hard to tap into international trade when you are new to all of the logistics language and processes. As we work closely with our customers, we know what is most important for a business to understand when shipping cargo for the very first time. That’s why we’ve created this guide of the five most important things you need to know — with all our insights, necessary shipping information and key requirements. Let’s get your cargo on the move!

  1. What needs to go into the container?
  2. Firstly, it is important to think about what type of commodity you want to ship:

    • What is the type of commodity?
    • Is there anything that needs to be refrigerated?
    • Is it considered to be dangerous cargo?

    Finding the right logistics provider will depend on the type of cargo you’re shipping. For example, some companies don’t offer refrigerated containers (reefers) or ship dangerous cargo.

  3. What is the quantity and dimensions?
  4. Before starting to ship, you need to figure out the quantity and dimensions of your cargo. This means you must consider the following three key points:

    • Total weight
    • Total size (m3)
    • The number of boxes or pallets

    The weight and dimension of your shipment play a role in your overall costs. Larger, longer and heavier shipments may require additional space; hence you can expect additional surcharges to appear on top of common services charges.

    If you can’t fill an entire container, you might be looking for Less than Container Load (LCL). With LCL, your small-volume goods are combined with other orders to fill the container space — you only pay for the space you use.

  5. Where are you shipping to and from?
  6. The next step is to figure out the origin and destination locations of your goods. Do you want to move your cargo from door to door? Do you want to transport your cargo across different continents? The start and finish points will affect the overall freight cost and determine whether you need an end-to-end logistics service that provides inland transportation as well as ocean freight.

    The origin and destination of your cargo also influences the need for customs services and insurance coverage. These extra services depend on whether you ship within a country or between countries, as well as if you ship inland or across the sea.

    On the origin side of your shipment, you might face freight costs. Whether you have to pay them all depends on the Incoterms® you have agreed on with the shipper of your cargo. Incoterms are rules that define the terms of trade for the sale of goods all around the world. You can think of them as the common language of trade – and by understanding them better, you will be better equipped to import and export goods with parties around the world. That’s why it’s important to know your incoterms and to pick the right one – because in some cases, the shipper will cover all freight costs on the origin side.

    Take a look at our local information pages for important information on shipping to or from a specific region or country. We’ve gathered contact details and shipping information such as routes, demurrage, detention, charges, holidays, and cut off times.

  7. What is your time plan?
  8. The next step is to ensure you have a time plan ready. Make sure to know when your products should arrive at their destination. What if there are unexpected delays? For instance, you need to consider a longer waiting time when it’s coming up to peak logistics seasons such as Golden Week or Chinese New Year. So, make sure you have a detailed time frame in mind when shipping for the first time.

    Another important factor is the mode of transportation when creating your time plan. It depends on the route you choose, but often, moving cargo by rail, road or air takes less time than ocean transport. However, when you want to transport larger volumes of cargo, ocean transportation is the best option. At Maersk, we offer ocean and inland transportation to get your cargo delivered from door to door or from port to port.

  9. What will your container transportation costs be?
  10. The Incoterms® are a good starting point to identify who is paying for each part of your transportation costs. Whether you are handling a bill of lading, creating a customs invoice or preparing a certificate of origin at a port – the Incoterms® will guide you. 

We help you ship your containers for the first time

We know that it takes a lot of preparation and work to ship containerised cargo for the first time. That’s why we’ve created Maersk Go: an intuitive platform where you can make bookings and manage all your shipments and tasks in one place. Easily pair ocean shipments with inland transport and customs clearance services across our extensive global network. Sign up for a free account today and check our transparent instant rates.

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