Think before you ship: What to consider before shipping internationally

Transporting and shipping can be a complicated process. Moving goods or possessions across borders always involves a complicated mix of carriers, modes and regulations. Compare that to a simple transaction such as moving a truckload between two points within South Africa; such as Durban to Cape Town. The differences are quite hefty, thus it is important for one to consider these major contrasts before shipping internationally.

Rules and Regulations
Even the simplest international shipment requires the understanding of at least countries import/export regulations. Therefore identifying restricted items before shipping is of importance. Every country has a unique set of rules about what can be either imported or exported and even to whom.
In some countries, the law could be an outright prohibition, like a certain tobacco brand. Other countries impose restrictions on some goods to protect their domestic industries.
To import some goods into some countries, specific requirements have to be met; when unmet the importer may be held liable for not meeting those requirements. Not abiding to the rules and regulations will at best result in both delivery delays and additional fines. To avoid these challenges working with logistics providers who have expertise in foreign markets is important.

 Estimating Transit Time & Cost
It is inevitable that international shipping will take longer than domestic shipping. Regardless of the various options of transporting goods that are available which are much faster, before committing merchants must look at cost and product.  

  • Can your product survive on a longer but cheaper sea trip?
  • Or are the goods perishable and require speedy but expensive delivery?

Similar to most domestic shipments, the choice of transit time will affect international transportation costs. However, its effect is often magnified several times. For example, travelling to the US will have its own time duration due to the weather conditions influencing the number of days for travel. Therefore, it is imperative to budget cost and time correctly to meet 

When delivering goods across international borders, irrespective of method used, the risk of damage or loss is much higher. This means taking out insurance on your goods should be top priority.
Some merchants try to save money by not taking up insurance, which in most cases is the biggest mistake. Doing this increases risk of losses and damaged goods during the shipping process.

Know your costs
International shipping is much more complex and there are potentially 4 or more carriers involved in even the simplest international shipment. Moreover, international usually involves ocean shipping. Ocean rates are constantly in flux with ever changing fees and surcharges. Coupled with GRIs and other market factors, keeping ocean freight rates and contracts up to date is almost impossible. When planning your move across the globe, it is easy to make assumptions on costs. Merchants often focus on the lowest unit cost, and thus caught off-guard when there is an additional, unexpected costs. 

While all this may seem far-fetched, it is best to plan for the worst.   International shipping is much trickier than expected. By collaborating with a logistics provider such as , it will save you both money and time throughout the process.