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Shipping Container

Whether you’re a small enterprise or moving your personal life abroad, container shipping can be a game-changer for your relocation. Here’s the lowdown on how you can take advantage of this well-developed system, covering costs, and snagging the best deals.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Making Container Shipping Work for You

Whether you’re eyeing a sea journey or need an airlift for your belongings, going containerised can be lighter on your wallet than you think. The trick? Knowing the ins and outs—from choosing the right size to understanding the extra costs like customs duties and special equipment needs.

Thanks to their modular design, shipping containers are easily transported by lorry, crane, plane, or ship, seamlessly integrating into the global logistics network. As a standardised method to move and handle items so efficiently, container shipping can significantly cut costs and help you save money.

Let’s take a look at the ballpark based on destination port and container size (20ft or 40ft):

Destination Port20ft Shipping Container40ft Shipping Container
New York£1,500 – £1,700£1,900 – £2,000
Miami£1,550 – £1,750£1,900 – £2,000
Los Angeles£1,900 – £2,100£2,700 – £3,000
Montreal£1,100 – £1,250£1,800 – £1,900
Marseilles£900 – £1,000£1,400 – £1,500
Athens£950 – £1,100£1,500 – £1,600
Melbourne£1,200 – £1,300£1,900 – £2,000
Auckland£1,250 – £1,350£1,950 – £2,050

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Tips to Cut Costs on Container Shipping

#1. Right Size Matters

With an international removal, you’ve got options like LCL (Less than Container Load) for when you’re not filling up a whole container, which means you don’t rent all of the space inside. If you have a business delivery to make or are moving personal items overseas but don’t need a full container, then LCL can save you a chunk of change.

LCL or Group Shipping

With LCL a freight forwarder or shipping agent will establish whether or not another client wants to make a similar shipment from the same port or airport at roughly the same time and match your consignments up together. You still get your goods delivered from A to B but they may share the same space for a time, usually when at sea. Under an LCL arrangement, a container could be shared by two, three or even many more customers.

Full Container Load

On the other hand, opting for FCL (Full Container Load) makes sense if your consignment is enough to pack it out, minimising delays and handling hiccups. It’s also the best option to go for if you think that your items might be contaminated or damaged by sharing a container with another delivery.

#2. Choosing the Right Service

From DIY port-to-port shipments to full-service, door-to-door removals here’s the options you can pick to suit your needs and budget best:

Port-to-Port Container Shipment

If you opt for a port-to-port container shipment, then you are responsible for getting your container to the air or seaports of your respective departure and destination. Alternatively, you can arrange for your contractor to take this work on. In other words, with port-to-port shipping only the air or sea mode taking the delivery over international borders is catered for.

Door-to-Door Container Shipment

On the other hand, door-to-door service will provide you with all of the modes of transport needed to get your container from A to B. When relocating home, opting for this service means that you will have your items delivered to your new house soon after – or even before – you arrive in person. This option might be more expensive but can be very practical for urgent and necessary items.

Finding the right shipping container can be easy

#3. Quote Hunt for the Best Offer

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Additional Costs for Global Shipping

Beyond the cost of hiring the shipping container itself, there are certain costs to take into account when planning an overseas service, like with any form of cross-border shipment.

Here’s the lowdown on these additional charges:

1. Customs Declaration

Even if your shipping container is being loaded entirely for personal use – for a home removal job, for example – then you will need to make a customs declaration to explain why the shipment is being made. If you have your removal company or a customs agent do this work for you, then expect to pay a variable fee depending on the complexity of the shipment.

2. Customs Duty

Where items are subject to an import tax, otherwise known as customs duty, fees will depend on the nature of the items you are sending and where in the world they are going. You can find out more about different customs charges here.

4. Import Levy

However, if you ship a car or an item of furniture, for instance, to a territory like India, Australia or Mexico which the tax authorities might think will be sold on, then an import levy is likely.

As a general rule, please note that anything that will be sold or traded on arrival or that is being shipped to meet a customer’s order, will almost certainly be subject to customs duties (or import levies) when it arrives at its destination.

Shipping Container

Paperwork to Get Your Stuff Where It Needs to Go

Other than your all-important customs declaration that is always needed when shipments cross international borders outside of free trading economic blocs, you will need a bill of lading and a freight bill with any delivery being made via a shipping container. Usually, international removal companies can organise this paperwork for you.

Shipping Container Contract

Essentially, a bill of lading is the contract you have with the shipping company that outlines how and where the shipment is to be transported, for example, from London to Felixstowe by rail freight and from Felixstowe to Dubai by sea. The freight bill is an invoice which details all of the shipping costs associated with the shipment, something that customs officials will need to inspect on arrival.

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