Ocean Freight 101

Ocean Freight 101
January 19, 2021 Chrissy Goodwin
A container ship sails on the open sea, carrying its ocean freight to ports around the world.

Ocean freight remains the most cost-effective way to move large amounts of property and goods around the world for private individuals, businesses, and governments alike. Professional ocean freight services help ease international shipping, ensure efficient transport, and are a useful resource in controlling logistics costs. As an ocean freight forwarder and non-vessel owning common carrier (NVOCC), Trans Global Logistics is positioned to help our clients move their property worldwide, whether they’re shipping a vehicle to a new duty station or arranging for the transport of their latest production run from an overseas factory. This gives us a broad insight into ocean freight and what it can mean for our customers.

What Ocean Freight Is

In the simplest terms, ocean freight is simply the movement of property via ship over the ocean, just as has been done for centuries. Modern ocean shipping, however, has the capacity to move goods that is unlike anything seen before in history.

With the advent of container shipping in the 1950s, the amount of goods that could be reliably moved by a single ship increased exponentially, meanwhile the cost to transport those goods dropped as only a single crew and ship needed to be outfitted for the journey. Ocean freight has continued to evolve, with the standard of shipping still being large container vessels, but advancements in shipbuilding created larger, faster, and more fuel-efficient vessels.

Container Shipping

Shipping containers are large, rectangular metal boxes, similar to the trailers pulled by semi-trucks or train cars. Ranging from 20 to 40-feet long, cargo is loaded into these boxes for transport. Just as moving boxes do when moving a house, these containers allow for the safe and secure stacking and moving of a wide range of cargo packed within. These also allow ocean freight services to offer their clients flexibility without cutting into their bottom line with specialized shipping cost.

  • Full Container Shipping – Used for large loads from a single source, full container shipping allows clients to load a full container up to its maximum weight of around 37,500 lbs. Usually priced per-container, this can be the best way for a company to meet its bottom line when they have enough goods to fill or mostly fill out a container.
  • Less-Than Container-Load – For smaller shipping orders, such as single vehicles, smaller production runs, or simply less property than a full container would warrant, LCL shipping combines property from multiple sources into a single container to share costs. Each shipper is responsible for a cost based on pieces, weight, or percentage of container occupied.


A young man looks up at stacked shipping containers, used by ocean freight services to move large amounts of cargo.

The Ocean Freight Process

Shipping goods by sea has also become easier. Far from being only the province of large manufacturers or distributors, ocean freight forwarders and full-service logistics companies have worked to remove the barriers that made it a daunting task for individuals and small businesses. The process of shipping your goods or property can be arranged with confidence that, on the other end of the journey, your property will arrive when and where it’s needed in good condition.

  • Take Stock Of Your Shipment. – You’ll need to know what you’re shipping and have a general idea of its dimensions, weight, piece count, and what kind of property (vehicles, furniture, palettes) the load will include.
  • Contact Your Ocean Freight Services Provider – Your shipping company will work with you on creating an estimate based on the containers needed, the speed with which you need your property transported, and the dates shipping is needed. They can also help coordinate the movement of your cargo from where it is now to the export dock, and on the other end of the journey, they can help facilitate transport from the port to its final destination.
  • Paperwork And Preparation – From customs declarations to permits and licenses, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got the documentation needed to efficiently move your property across borders. In many cases, your ocean freight shipper will be able to offer resources that can help you make sure you have the right paperwork or can offer services to help you navigate the process in your export and import country.
  • Loading – For full-container shipping, a container will be delivered to your shipping facility where it will be loaded, sealed, and then hauled to the port for loading onto the ship. For LCL services, your goods are usually transported to a shipping consolidator who loads a container with property from you and other clients into a single container that is then taken to the port. Containers are loaded onto a ship and secured for ocean freight transport.
  • Transit – Once the container ship disembarks, it will make its way toward its destination. For full ships going to a single port of entry, this direct trip can take as little as a couple of weeks. Some vessels will stop at several ports, loading and unloading cargo, on their way to the eventual final port of call to unload. This can extend the transit time depending on where in the journey your property is to be offloaded.
  • Arrival – Once your cargo arrives at its import location, the container is unloaded. Customs will review your documentation if necessary. Once approved, full container loads will then be transported to the final destination, while LCL containers will go to a receiving warehouse to be unloaded and each client’s cargo routed appropriately.

Using Ocean Freight For Your Goods

Our industry experience makes coordinating your shipping painless. As a licensed and insured NVOCC and freight forwarder, we’ve established working relationships that let us offer you efficient import, export, and transit at locations around the world. It all starts when you fill out our easy quote request form. One of our ocean freight specialists will review your information and offer you the options you need to make an informed decision about moving your property. They’ll work with you to set the proper expectations and meet your needs so your goods get where they need to be when they need to be there. Contact Trans Global Auto Logistics for your ocean freight services today.

Related posts:

Call Now Request Quote