Moving Goods by Sea

Moving goods by sea: the cheapest transport option availableFor those who are not too fussed about the speed of shipping and are more concerned with how cheap the cost of shipping overseas is, sending second-hand garments from England via the ocean is without a doubt one of the best methods. On this page, we are going to take a little look at the idea of moving goods by sea in general.

Now, sending goods via sea is incredibly popular. As a result, there are a number of different ships available for this purpose. The exact method that you use will be dependent on the type of goods that you are shipping. Here are some of the options available for those who are looking into moving goods by sea:

  • Container ships: Containers measure either 20 foot or 40 foot. These containers are normally stacked on the ship, fairly neatly. Some of the largest container ships in the world can hold up to 9,000 containers at once. If goods need to be moved across smaller waters, a smaller ship will be used which contain fewer containers. This method is one of the cheapest and the most popular. One of the major benefits of sending goods via container is the fact that it is easy to transport. After all, the container can also be sent via rail or road without needing to unpack the container.
  • Roll-on and roll-off boats are for vehicles which are driven on and off. This method is used for haulage vehicles. It is not all that common.
  • General cargo ships: These containers will carry loose-packaged cargo. These ships are, obviously, not going to be ideal for those who are sending smaller items. They will be jumping all over the place!
  • Bulk containers: These tend to carry large volumes of a very specific type of good. They will be fitted out for that good only. Oil and gas is a common commodity to send via this method. Grain, fertilisers, ore, and coal are also sent via bulk containers. Most people will not need to worry about this method of shipping.

Generally speaking, unless you have a lot of goods to ship, it is likely that the ship that you use will operate along a fixed route and to an incredibly fixed schedule. This means you know when your goods are going to arrive. It is also a cheap method. It is obviously not ideal if you have missed the cut-off point for the shipping!

The alternate option is to charter the ship. You will be able to set the loading and discharge of the goods. However, this is obviously going to be an expensive method! You are effectively renting a whole ship after all. This method is not even used by some of the largest businesses out there!

Remember, if you are going to be moving goods by sea, you should always look into which option is going to be the best fit for the type of goods that you are shipping. Talk to the shipping company to find out more.

How are Goods Carried on Ships?

How are goods carried on ships?Sending goods overseas by ship is without a doubt one of the most cost-effective options, even if it is a little bit slow in comparison to other methods. Below, we are going to take a little look at the three methods that goods will be carried by ship. Not all of them will be applicable to your business, but they are certainly worth knowing about.

Container Shipping

The vast majority of goods carried by ship will be sent via a container. Containers tend to come in one of two different sizes:

  • 20 foot, with a volume of 33.2 cubic metres.
  • 40 foot, with a volume of 67.7 cubic metres.

These contains can be open-topped, refrigerated, or simple closed containers. The option used will, of course, be dependent on the goods which are being shipped.

One of the biggest benefits of container shipping is that it is easy to deal with. Containers can be unloaded whole. Individual goods do not to be taken out of the container before being sent on for further transportation. The container can be taken off and put on the road or rail instantly. This makes this method highly efficient and that can help bring the cost of shipping down.

In addition to this, container shipping ensures the security of your goods during transport. After all, these goods are going to be locked away in a container. It is very rare that anybody will ever have the opportunity to tamper with them.


This is the opposite to container shipping. The goods will not be put into containers. They may, instead, be put on pallets, drums, or even in sacks. Basically, the items are going to be loaded directly onto the ship. This method is mainly used by the fresh fruit industry where container shipping is not appropriate. In addition to this, break bulk shipping will normally be used to ship goods to locations which do not have the ability to handle containers i.e. smaller ports.

The downside to this method is that break bulk shipping means that the goods are subject to damage as they do not have the protection of the container. Those that go down this route will almost certainly wish to ensure that the goods that they are shipping are well-protected.

Bulk shipping

There are some goods which will be transported in bulk on a specialised ship. For example, oil will be sent on an oil tanker. This can also apply to certain ores, coal, or even wheat. This method is, obviously, not really used by those who are shipping products simply because you will be taking up the whole ship! It, therefore, can get expensive.

Remember, you should always talk to the company which is providing your shipping to find out what the best shipping method for your products are. This will not only depend on the product which you are shipping, but the locations in which you are shipping the products to.

Costs of Ocean Shipping

What is the cost of ocean shippingWhen you ship goods by sea, there are two costs that you need to bear in mind. The first, and the most obvious, is the money that you are going to need to pay to your carrier. In addition to this, you are going to need to pay costs to the port for the handling of the goods. It is very rare that the carrier will work this into their own costs.

If you wish to secure the best possible rates when it comes to ocean shipping, you should try and ensure that your products are sent on scheduled services. It is not the ideal solution if your goods need to get to a specific place at a very specific time, but it is going to be affordable. Those who may be shipping huge quantities of goods may wish to look into chartering their own ship. This is, of course, very expensive. Even the largest companies will not even go down that route unless they have to.

Costs that you may need to take into account include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • In some cases, the rate that you pay may be dependent on the goods or cargo which is being shipped. Obviously, cargo which requires a great deal more care to ensure it gets to a destination safely will cost a whole lot more.
  • If the port is fairly busy, you may need to pay a congestion charge. This fee can actually increase the cost of ocean shipping quite substantially.
  • The vast majority of shipping costs, no matter where you are sending the goods to or from, will be quoted in US dollars. You will, therefore, need to check the exchange rate. You will also want to consider the exchange rate throughout the journey of the products. Remember, exchange rates can go up and down which can drastically change the cost of shipping at a moment’s notice.
  • Fuel prices may go up. You will need to bear this in mind because any increases in fuel prices will need to be paid for by you.
  • There may be additional surcharges depending on where the goods are being shipped to. In most cases, this will be a security surcharge put in place by the receiving port. However, the shipping company who is handling your goods may also have charges of their own in order to stick to local regulations. You will need to find out all about this before you ship your products.

Your load is also going to have a huge impact on the price. The vast majority of shipping companies will price their service based upon a container load. This means that the more you put in your container, the less the shipping costs will be for the shipping. If you can’t fill a whole container, you can bring down the cost of shipping by looking into consolidation companies. These companies will put goods from a variety of different senders in one container which will cut down on the overall cost.

Key Documents for Transporting Goods by Sea

Key documents for transporting goods by seaJust like every other type of shipping out there, if you are going to ship goods by sea then you are going to need to have a few key documents to hand. Let’s take a little look at some of the most important documents for transporting goods by sea.

If you are unsure as to whether you have the right documents or even whether you have filled out the documents you have correctly, talk to the freight forwarding company that you are dealing with. They will be more than happy to help you out. It is their job after all!

At the very minimum, you are going to need to have an Export Cargo Shipping Instruction, known as an ECSI. Think of this document as the contract between you and your shipping company. This document will be packed to the brim with information about the type of goods that you are shipping and where the goods are going to. It will also tell which boat your products are going to be sent out on. This is going to be important for planning.

In addition to your Export Cargo Shipping Instruction, you will also need one of two other important documents:

  • Goods which are hazardous will need to have a Dangerous Goods Note prepared. This will detail what the hazard in that good is. This will ensure that the goods that you are shipping are looked after properly.
  • Non-Hazardous goods will need a Standard Shipping Note. This will, basically, tell the shipper that the goods are not hazardous. It will also contain all of the information needed about that particular shipment. This includes details of the port that the container is being sent from. It will also include any relevant details about how to look after the ship properly. The shipping company will also use the standard shipping note to check whether your shipment is all in place when you ship it.

Finally, your shipment will need one of the following two documents. You will only need one of them:

  • Bill of lading: This will be issued by the carrier of your goods. The main purpose of this will be to demonstrate that the carrier has your goods in their possession. In addition to this, it will highlight the contract that the carrier and you have agreed for the shipping of those goods. It will also show title of those goods.
  • Sea Waybill: For the most part, this is exactly the same as the Bill of Lading. The only difference is that it does not show the title of the goods and does not confer title to the carrier. This will often be used when the buyer and the seller of the product already have a healthy relationship, or if the ownership of the product is not going to change hands e.g. if a company is shipping their product overseas to a company which they also own.

Some goods, like used clothing for example, if you are importing at least, will require a some sort of certificate of origin. This document will say where the goods come from. It is used to conform to various laws. If you are importing goods, your freight forwarder or transport company will help you to establish whether you are required to have a certificate of origin in place or not.

In some cases, you may need a license to import and export certain goods. It is absolutely necessary that you check the relevant laws in your country and the country that you are exporting the goods to in order to determine whether this is something which applies to you.

Find out available options of freight transportation

All about moving goods by air