What is Ocean Freight

Ocean freight is the logistics of exporting and importing cargo by shipping lines.

Goods are packed in shipping containers, the freight forwarder books the space or container with the ship agent, cargo is trucked to the shipping line at the port of origin and shipped overseas to the importer at the port of destination. The itinerary can be port-to-port or can include truck pick up and or delivery, door-to-port, port-to-door and door-to-door.

Ocean freight versus air freight

Airfreight is much faster, but more expensive than ocean freight. The size of the cargo will determine the feasibility of airfreight versus ocean freight.

Some cargo is restricted from airfreight so it must be shipped by ocean freight. Perishable cargo may have to travel by air to keep from spoiling during the shipment.

In ocean freight, incoterms - standardized shipping term sheets - determine the shipper and consignee’s contractual obligations and financial responsibilities. Those terms provide guidelines as to which party, between the importer and the exporter, is responsible for the shipping arrangements and assign the liability for each step of of the itinerary, whether it is door-to-door, port-to-port, or door-to-port. This process also determines who has to insure the cargo. If you are financing your transaction with a Letter of Credit (LC), the bank will verify that the incoterms have been met before releasing the funds. In other words, incoterms dictate when the ownership of the cargo is transferred to the consignee.

Ocean Freight
Air Freight
Cost Low Cost Cost High Cost
Time Slower Time Faster
Size of cargo Any size Size of cargo The size of the cargo will determine the feasibility of airfreight
Restricted cargo No restrictions. Restricted cargo Some cargo is restricted from airfreight. See air cargo we do not ship
Perishable cargo Perishable cargo Perishable cargo may have to travel by air to keep from spoiling

FCL (Full Container)

FCL shipping is a type of ocean freight and the term FCL refers to full container load. Shipping FCL does not mean you need to have enough cargo to fill an entire container you may ship a partially filled container as FCL.

Benefits of shipping FCL

  • You are paying for the entire container, so a half-filled or full container is the same price.
  • If you are inspected, it is only your cargo being inspected.
  • Other cargo will not damage your cargo.
  • here is no stand-by time until the container is fully filled.
  • Whether you are using LCL or FCL, all cargo should be palletized or boxed depending on the goods being shipped.
learn more about fcl

LCL or Groupage (Share a Container)

When shipping LCL, cargo is consolidated with other shippers' goods to fill a container. The price of your shipment is determined based on volume and weight.

Drawbacks of shipping LCL

  • There could be a delay due to the stand-by time consumed to fill the container.
  • Other shipments inside the container might be inspected by customs thereby delaying your shipment.
  • Other cargo inside the container could contaminate or damage your cargo.
learn more about lcl