In the transportation process of goods from shipper to consignee, there are five steps in general, and each round of transportation must complete each step according to the process and regional system.

The seven steps of ocean shipping: export haulage, origin handling, export clearance, ocean freight, import clearance, destination handling, and import haulage.

1. Export transportation

This involves the movement of goods from the shipper to the forwarder’s warehouse. For goods that are less than a container load, they will be shipped to the freight forwarder’s warehouse for consolidation. Goods are usually transported by road (via truck), rail or a combination. If it is agreed that the shipper is responsible for this part of the transportation, it will usually be arranged through a local transport company. However, if the recipient is responsible, then it is usually best to use a forwarder who can provide export haulage as part of the international shipment.

2. Export customs clearance

For every shipment that leaves a country, customs formalities must be completed to meet regulatory requirements. Customs clearance is a transaction that draws up a declaration and submits the required documents to the authorities, and can only be carried out by companies with a valid customs license (so-called customs brokers).

Export customs clearance can be done by a freight forwarder with a valid license or an agent appointed by the freight forwarder. Alternatively, it can be performed by a customs broker appointed directly by the shipper, who is not necessarily involved in any other part of the transport process. Export clearance steps must be completed before the goods leave the country of origin.

3. Processing at the origin

Origin handling covers the physical handling and inspection of all goods from receipt at origin warehouses to loading into containers for shipment. There are many steps under origin processing by many different parties, but all of these are coordinated and accountable by the freight forwarder or the agent appointed by the freight forwarder. In a nutshell, when cargo is received, it is inspected, loaded is planned, combined with other cargo, containerized and moved to port, where it is loaded onto a ship.

4. Sea freight

The freight forwarder decides to select a shipping company to perform the ocean shipment from origin to destination to meet the shipping schedule required by the shipper or consignee. The freight forwarder has a container transportation contract with the shipping line, in which case the shipper or consignee does not have any direct interaction with the shipping line.

The cost of sea freight is ultimately borne by the shipper or consignee. However, sea freight is never the entire cost of shipping from port to port. There are many kinds of surcharges levied in the industry, such as fuel adjustment factor, currency adjustment factor, etc., which are included in the transportation cost.

5. Import customs clearance

Import customs clearance can often begin before the shipment reaches the country of destination. As for export clearance, it is a formality in which a declaration is made and submitted together with the relevant documents so that the authorities can register the goods and collect any customs duties. Import customs clearance is handled by the freight forwarder or the agent of the freight forwarder, or the customs broker designated by the consignee. Import customs clearance procedures must be completed before the goods leave the bonded zone of the destination country.

6. Destination processing

The cargo needs to be loaded and unloaded at the destination before it can be released to the consignee. In a nutshell, destination handling involves transferring containers from a ship to ashore, from a port to a freight forwarder’s destination warehouse. It also includes unloading the container and preparing the cargo for pickup by the consignee. Destination handling encompasses several destination charges and is always performed by the freight forwarder or an agent appointed by the freight forwarder.

7. Import transportation

The final leg of the shipment is the physical delivery of the goods to the consignee. It can be carried out by the freight forwarder or the local transportation company designated by the consignee. If this part of the transport is arranged by the shipper, it is often more convenient to use a forwarder who can also arrange local import transport. Import shipping usually includes shipping to a specific address, but does not include unloading from the truck upon arrival, which is usually the responsibility of the consignee.