International shipping can be a complex series of maneuvers, or it can be a simplistic handing off of your cargo at one end with the assurance that transportation will be carried out quickly and efficiently in time for scheduled delivery at the other end.
The second option is definitely the most attractive, and most companies prefer to deal with a transport service that offers the combination of shipping options. Dealing with a single logistics company that offers access to ground, air and ocean transport can save you money, time and hassle on each shipment.
For international shipping between countries with adjoining borders (such as between the US and Canada or Mexico, or between various countries in the EU), overland freight transport is generally the most cost effective option.
Ask your prospective carrier if they allow truck sharing for less than full cargo loads, and what their contingency plans are in case of break-down or inclement weather. If you require temperature controlled containers or have oversized cargo to ship, the shipping company you select should offer those options without a huge surcharge.
For international shipping over long distances with time sensitive cargo, air freight may be your best option. Although expensive compared to ground transportation, air freights has numerous advantages, allowing fast, reliable shipping from continent to continent with climate control as required.
A reputable shipping company will have contracts with a variety of airlines to garner the best possible rate and efficient delivery to all major airports with no hassle at customs.
For international shipping by ocean transport, costs are generally lower than air freight. The advantage of sea transport over trucking is the ability to deliver transcontinental shipments. If the timeframe for delivery is wide open, overseas shipping may be the most cost effective option.
This is also an ideal and low cost way to ship oversized items such as machinery or vehicles. Oversized shipments or heavy items that would result in a surcharge if carried by air or truck often are much less expensive to ship by sea, so this option should be considered.
Intermodal containers are a huge benefit when shipping international cargo. Overseas ocean transport is often combined with air or truck transport to deliver the cargo to its ultimate destination, and containers which are compatible with all three modes of shipping make transfer and delivery easy.
If your shipment will be changing modes of transport at any point, intermodal containers are a must; so double check to ensure your shipment won't have to be unloaded and reloaded unnecessarily because of incompatible transport facilities or containers.
If a whole container is overkill for your shipment, check with your carrier to see if another company has a small shipment and would be willing to split the cost of container transport. Insist on temperature controlled containers if your shipment is climate sensitive - it's not only heat which can cause damage, but humidity.
Once you have identified all your shipment's specific requirements (destination, mode of transport, need for climate control or extra cargo space), selecting an international shipping option should be easy.
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