Explanation of International Shipping Costs

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When you receive the quotes from international shipping companies you may wonder – Does this quote include all international shipping costs? Are there any additional or hidden charges I need to be aware of? A reliable overseas transport company will clearly state in their quote which charges are included and which ones are not. But sometimes you need to ask the right questions to verify.

So what are the various international shipping costs that you may expect when shipping your commercial freight, vehicles, or household goods to another country?

*** Packing Charges. When dealing with commercial freight this is usually not an issue – supplier will provide proper overseas packaging. However, this is oftentimes not the case when private parties (read ebay sellers) are involved. We just shipped 2 motorcycle engines to Italy that were sold on ebay motors and the seller just had them sitting in his garage. Naturally, we had to arrange for the engines to be placed on a shipping pallet and shrink-wrapped to make it ready for the pick up.

*** Pick up Costs. If the international shipping company quoted you from the DOOR at origin (also known as EX-WORKS) this means that the transport company will collect your overseas shipment from your home or your supplier’s location. This can be done via regular commercial trucks. Cars and motorcycles will require auto haulers transportation. Boats will require towing via hydraulic trailers. And oversize equipment will require flat bed or low-boy trailer trucks.

*** Export Loading Charges. If the overseas ocean containers are utilized to ship your freight to an international destination – then you can expect to pay the container stuffing charges to an export packing warehouse. If you have oversized machinery or vehicles that are being transported via roll-on roll-off vessel service – then port receiving charges will apply.

*** International Shipping Costs. These are the rates directly related to the ocean vessel carrier or aircraft operator. These will include: ocean or air freight, fuel surcharge (also known as bunker), currency adjustment factor (CAF), terminal handling charges, bill of lading fees.

*** Documentation Fees. A lot of international freight forwarders charge numerous fees for handling documentation and filing paperwork. In my personal opinion these charges should not be billed to the customers. These are the costs of doing international shipping business and should be treated as company’s expense. For example: some overseas shippers charge up to $100 for documentation. We as an international shipping company must provide proper documentation to our customers – it is our duty – I do not know why customers should be charged for it. Another example is export declaration fees. Any cargo exported from USA must have an export shipment declaration filed via AES system. Again, lots of freight forwarders try to charge their customers for doing what they’re obligated to do anyways to comply with export regulations.
Our company handles a lot of vehicle shipments from USA to overseas destinations. We’re required to clear the original title with US Customs to receive the export authorization. Numerous international car shippers charge extra for doing this even though there’s no fee payable to US Customs for title clearance.
Also, you may see courier charges added to your bill for mailing the original documents to you. In my opinion this should be done at company’s expense.

*** Marine Insurance. This is often a misunderstood concept for the people not working in the international shipping industry. Many customers assume that their cargo is automatically insured during the overseas trip. This is not the case. Vessel operators carry a legal liability of only $500 per unit. That’s why there’s so many international shipping insurance companies offering coverage for the goods in transit. Also, a lot of customers ask us to provide international shipping costs with insurance included. The cost of marine shipping insurance depends on the type and value of the shipment. You can’t expect to pay the same amount for shipping overseas a 50-lbs package with books as for a luxury sports car. The more valuable and delicate your cargo is – the more the marine insurance premium will be.

In conclusion my piece of advise is: know what you kind of international shipping costs to expects from overseas transport company, get your quotes in writing, and make sure a shipper is not trying to bill you extra for the service they’re obligated to provide to do their job.

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