The Process of Sea Freight in the UK
Today, the world functions on global trade and around 90% of goods are transported via sea freight.
This method is the cheapest and most effective way to transport your bulky goods internationally.
If you’re considering using a sea freight service to transport goods from the UK, you’ll naturally want sea freight rates explained and have some other important questions answered. For example, what is sea freight, how does sea freight work, and how is sea freight calculated? This guide will explain everything you need to know about the sea freight process.
What Is Sea Freight?
Sea freight is a shipping method that uses cargo ships to transport large quantities of goods worldwide. This cost-effective method is preferred by individuals and businesses importing and exporting goods from anywhere in the world. Some advantages include cheaper duty and VAT, several shipping options, and the shipment of oversized items such as furniture and vehicles.
This method stands out from other transport modes available. On average, it can be four to six times cheaper than air freight.
How Are the Good Packed?
The goods are packed into large containers and loaded into a vessel before heading to their destination. A cargo vessel can carry between 18,000 to 24,000 twenty-foot equivalent units per ship. Cargo containers are typically around 8.5 to 9.5 feet high and come in two lengths of 20 and 45 feet.
How Many Goods Can One Container Fit?
For a rough idea of how big a 20-foot container is, it can fit approximately 100 washing machines.
Alternatively, if you were shipping teddy bears, for instance, 20 teddies can fit into one 50cm x 30cm x 30cm carton with a volume of 0.05 cubic metres. By utilizing space of 27 cubic metres within a container, you could fit 600 cartons and 12,000 teddy bears!
Thanks to an abundance of room on a vessel, space is priced less than it would cost on other transport modes such as air.
How Does Sea Freight Work?
There are several types of sea freight:
- Full container load: where an individual shipment is loaded into a 20-foot – 45-foot-long container
- Less than container load: where multiple shipments share a container then is divided upon arrival
- Dry bulk shipping: handles commodities that don’t need to be loaded into containers and can travel in the hold, like aggregates or metals
- Roll on/roll off: where lorries and other vehicles drive onto the ship with their cargo and are securely fastened for the voyage.
The Sea Freight Process
It’s common for businesses to use an experienced freight forwarding company to arrange their sea freight to transport goods safely and legally. Import and custom processes are complex, and mistakes can be expensive. A shipping agent will effectively manage the risks and ensure the process runs smoothly.
These are the general steps required for sea freight:
- You select a reputable freight forwarder and ensure the rates and service is explained clearly so you can agree on a quote for what you need.
- The freight forwarding company will arrange to collect the goods from your supplier.
- Your goods will be moved to the port and go through UK customs.
- Your goods are loaded into their own or a shared container and then placed on the cargo ship for its outbound journey.
- On arrival at the destination port, the goods must clear through customs and are released once the duty and taxes are paid.
- The goods are delivered to the destination warehouse and then to the receiver.
How Long Does Sea Freight Take?
There are several factors involved when explaining sea freight transit times.
The time spent at sea and the door-to-door time differ due to the steps involved in the sea freight process. In addition, the location will affect how long it takes.
Generally, seven days at both ends should be added to the time spent at sea. For instance, if you’re importing from East Coast, the U.S., the time spent at sea may take 14 days, but you’ll need to include an additional two weeks to go through customs in both countries.
So how long does sea freight take? Here are some approximate times at sea between destinations around the world and the UK:
- West Coast, U.S. 30 days
- East Coast, U.S. 10 – 14 days
- Western India 19 – 22 days
- Eastern India 27 – 29 days
- Northern China 32 – 35 days
- Central China 28 – 30 days
- Southern China 23 – 25 days
- Australia 40 – days
Furthermore, delays to the process, such as not having the required documentation ready at customs, can further extend sea freight transit times and make the sea freight rates explained question harder to answer
Sea Freight Rates Explained
Sea freight rates depend on the shipping company and how they determine how much sea freight using their vessels will cost you at any given time. However, the issue with freight rates is that they fluctuate due to competition. Shipping lines compete to ensure their vessels are full, so they may artificially lower the rate to draw business from their competitors and then need to massively increase them to make a profit.
Incoterms are another factor that affects sea freight pricing and are crucial in the sea freight rates explained equation. Incoterms are international trading terms, where each Incoterm has a clear set of rules and obligations that all parties need to follow. Incoterms help makes international trading easier as both parties explicitly know what they are responsible for, and language barriers don’t cause problems.
Individual shipping terms mean responsibility for different costs. For instance, the “Free on Board” (FOB) shipping term is approximately evenly divided between you and your supplier, while “Ex Works” (EXW) terms mean you’ll be accountable for everything. When shipping via “Cost, Insurance and Freight” (CIF), your supplier is responsible for the sea freight fees. However, this Incoterm is risky and not usually recommended.
What Is Sea Freight Explained?
Hopefully, we’ve answered the “What is sea freight”. Put simply, Sea freight is a standard and cost-effective method of shipping heavy or oversized loads. It is ideal for sending bulky items like furniture or even vehicles to any part of the world.
Working with an experienced sea freight company to set up your shipments will save you time, money, and hassle. You’ll receive the services required to meet your specific needs, and have access to end-to-end visibility of your goods, while the entire process is handled for you.
We are here when you need us. Get in contact to see what we can do for youContact Us