Many things must be considered in the import/export business. Choices made in terms of ship finance, shipping company, charterer, etc., will decide how efficiently  cargo will be moved. Of these the most important is which cargo shipping company to choose. It is important to partner with a company that is trustworthy, reliable, and affordable.

Here are a few tips that make the process smoother:

  1. Check the registration and licensing of the cargo shipping company

The cargo shipping company has to be in sync with the shipping industry. This is crucial. Start by checking and comparing the registration and licensing. A shipping company that is reputable in the market will be able to provide the NVOCC number that they have received from the Department of Maritime commission. A domestic shipping company needs to register itself within its country and the countries to where it delivers. At the international level, companies associated with RIM, FIDI and AMSA may be expected to offer better customer service.

Different capacity and size of containers

The container size required for cargo depends on the type and quantity to be transported. Generally, shipping companies offer 20’ or 40’ sized shipping containers to the clients. Containers such as these are usually used to move vehicles or household items.

If the cargo contains perishable items then temperature controlled containers will be needed. Called Reefers, these are also used to transport antique pictures, expensive paintings and or rare furniture. This is to ensure they remain in perfect condition.

Different cargo loading services

Each company offers different cargo loading services. Learn about the services being provided. For example, with door to door shipping the shipping company will pack the items and then deliver them to the agreed destination. In this situation the client has little role in the transportation of the cargo.

Cargo tracking tools

Advancements in technology now offer effective cargo tracking tools. Customers can use them directly. The customer will receive an email on the status of the cargo in transit or given a code which shows where the cargo is at that time. These services are included along with other services by the shipping or may be charged as an extra. Ask the shipping company which form of tracking they offer.

Industrial standards

When shipping cargo overseas certain industrial standards need to be followed. Check that the company chosen follows the regulations and laws set by the government of the destination country. Additionally, ensure that the company chosen has a network of professionals skilled at handling packages once they arrive at the destination port. This is important in choosing the right shipping partner. These agents will unload and unpack the cargo once it reaches the shore.

Overall costs

Some cargo companies offer a single rate for shipping services and then detail additional charges in the bill. Initially, it may appear that the company has included additional fees in the bill. Ask them the charges to transport cargo and compare prices. Also ask about the fees for insurance, fuel, tracking, etc. Identify all charges, including hidden charges. Ask for a breakdown of the overall costs for the service. Always do this before choosing a shipping company.


The majority of the insurance companies provide insurance for the goods from the beginning to the end of the voyage. Ask the shipping company about their insurance cover. If something goes wrong with the ship the cargo must be insured. The cargo is generally covered for a given amount. Supplementary insurance can also be considered for a larger amount. The shipping company may even suggest insurance companies they have worked with.

Safety records

Any shipping company selected on the above criteria will likely be one of the leading steamship lines. These companies offer reliable services and follow standard operating procedures. They are standalone enterprises in the industry.

Ask the shipping company some questions about the details of the voyage. Inquire who will transport the cargo. Inquire whether their ships have any safety issues. Check their safety certifications and review their website.


Always compare prices and look for discounts, when comparing cargo shipping companies. Like any business, cargo companies may negotiate also. With flexibility alternative dates may yield lower costs.

Offered holding facilities

Ask what happens if goods arrive late. What will be the cost implications? Asking these simple questions will prevent issues and money losses. Once the goods arrive at the destination port, they may need to be stored. If so, ask what the fees may be for storage. Where the cargo contains perishable items ask whether the holding facilities are suitable. If the merchandise is heat sensitive, ask if air conditioning is available.


Choosing the right shipping company is what matters the most. Transporting cargo is expensive. It is essential to find a partner who will provide the best services.


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