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Intercontinental Shipping Tips

By Team Canada Inc |

So, you have to ship hydraulic seeding equipment from the plant in Brandon, Manitoba to the buyer in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India. Can't be too complex? Or can it? Have you done this before? How should you package the seeders for an ocean crossing? Do you know the handling capabilities at all the ports of entry and exit? Who is paying for customs duties in India? Or the inland transit from the port in Madras? These are just a few of the questions that need answering before you sign any shipping contract.

The onus is on the shipper, that's you, to ensure your goods are properly packaged and identified for transportation. Let's look at a few simple rules when preparing your goods for shipment. Do the following when researching and preparing your shipment:
  • Assess the hazards of all transportation legs and pack for the toughest leg
  • Determine how many times your goods will be handled in transit and prepare your goods for multiple handling
  • Meet the packing requirements that apply in the country of origin, for each carrier, at all ports of exit and entry, and in the country of destination
  • Know the packing capabilities of your product, such as its "stackability" or susceptibility to weather damage, and plan accordingly
  • Use the appropriate unitizing devices-pallets, containers-and ensure each terminal has the capability to handle your chosen devices
  • Plan for proper loading and securing of your goods (i.e. blocking and bracing in containers)
  • Ensure your goods are clearly marked, labeled and identified on a per item basis, if your goods are to be consolidated with other shipments
If you are a smaller company with little or no experience in shipping internationally, the task of identifying all the risks, hazards, and pitfalls of intercontinental shipping can be overwhelming. Luckily, help is close at hand. The Canadian International Freight Forwarder's Association ( is a good place to start when looking for assistance. Before you hire a freight forwarder to help you navigate the myriad laws and regulations, get recommendations from local exporters or trade specialists. If you decide to use a freight forwarder, prepare a Shipper's Letter of Instructions to outline any special handling requirements or paperwork pertinent to your shipment. Another option is to hire a transport company that offers integrated, value-added services, such as freight forwarding.

Whichever way you choose to go-independently, with a freight forwarder, or a full-service transporter-pay close attention to the negotiated terms of the shipping contract. Specific terms outlined in the contract, known as Incoterms, layout the logistical responsibilities of the buyer and seller. Know what you are responsible for and how much it will cost.

So, you have done your homework, hired a good freight forwarder, packaged your goods properly for marine transport, and labeled them clearly. Your seeding equipment will make it to Hyderabad-barring any Acts of God and Enemies of the Queen. But that's an insurance issue and a topic for another article.

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