Using sea transport for international trade

  • Using sea transport for international trade

    Using sea transport for international trade

    If your business needs to transport large quantities but there is no pressure to deliver quickly, shipping by sea may be suitable.

    Other advantages include:

    • you can ship large volumes at low costs – a freight forwarder can consolidate consignments to reduce costs
    • shipping containers can also be used for further transportation by road or rail

    However, there are also risks for sea transport:

    • shipping by sea can be slower than other transport modes and bad weather can add further delays
    • routes and timetables are usually inflexible
    • tracking your goods’ progress is difficult
    • you have to pay port duties and taxes
    • further transportation overland will be needed to reach the final destination
    • basic freight rates are subject to fuel and currency surcharges

    Protect your consignments with insurance. Under the maritime transport conventions you automatically have limited insurance cover under the Hague-Visby and Hamburg rules. However, it’s advisable to get additional insurance, such as general cargo insurance. See the guides on transport insurance and insurance for international trade.


    All your consignments must be accompanied by either a Bill of Lading or Sea Waybill. These documents clearly set out who the consignment owner is and the terms of the contract of carriage.

    When exporting to a new customer, use a Bill of Lading. This allows you to retain ownership of the goods until you release them to your customer. It is risky to release the goods before full payment is made unless you know your customer’s creditworthiness. Bills of Lading give you documentary security and more control over your consignments.

    Sea Waybills are less costly but do not offer the same security of payment. You should only use them when you know the creditworthiness of the business you’re shipping to, or when you have built up a good relationship with them. See the guide on getting paid when selling overseas.

    For more information on shipping, see the guide on moving goods by sea.

    If you ship dangerous goods, you must complete a dangerous goods declaration which includes the Dangerous Goods Note. In most cases this will be in addition to the maritime transport document that should accompany your shipments. Read about the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code on the International Maritime Organization website. Also see the guide on moving dangerous goods.

    Through UPS, Daks Couriers carries out international shipping to and from multiple places to and from Uganda.

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