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How Much Does It Cost to Send a Container Overseas?

Shipping costs can significantly affect your business’s overall profitability. Therefore, you should pay attention to your shipping budget to remain profitable and competitive within your given industry. But how much does it cost to ship a container abroad? Averagely, you will spend between $2,000 and $3,000 to ship a full container load (FCL). However, some shipments falling below a full container capacity might still fall under this pricing range.

So, what exactly drives the overall price of shipping a container abroad? Our post examines this critical business element. Remain onboard to learn more.

Factors Affecting International Container Shipping

Containers being prepared for international shipping

The price of shipping a container overseas depends on many dynamic factors. Here are the leading ones you should pay attention to when shipping containers abroad.

  • Destination or origin

Your shipping destination or origin in Canada significantly affects your container’s overall shipping rates. For instance, shipping a container from Toronto to Nairobi would require several transportation modes. You will need a ship to drop it at the Mombasa harbor from where it will require a truck or train to land in the Kenyan capital.

Additionally, most shipping companies have shipping zones that determine how much you will pay for your container. This shipping arrangement makes it easier to predict your shipping expenses, at least up to the landing harbor. 

  • Weight or dimensional weight

All carriers will charge you for your container based on its weight or dimensional height. This pricing method is simple because you can easily know that heavier containers will cost you more and vice versa. Dimensional weight pricing depends on your container’s weight, length, and height.

Here, a shipper will charge you based on how much space your shipping container occupies on their ship. That means that you may pay more for the container even if it’s lighter because it occupies more space.

  • Shipping season

Just like every other industry, shipping has its high and low seasons. That means that shipping your containers during peak seasons will cost you more and less during low seasons. A shipping season affects freight prices and the international supply chain.

Peak shipping seasons run between July and November/December as businesses worldwide start preparing their merchandise for the holidays. Freight companies increase their rates during this period to accommodate heightened service demand. This increase also applies to address the additional logistical work that addresses surging demand.

  • General Rate Increase (GRI)

GRI refers to the adjustment of ocean shipping rates by freight companies. These shipping firms adjust the rates to enable them to recover from low market price movements. In most stable years, this adjustment applies once.

Additionally, the decision to apply GRI strictly depends on the concerned carriers. However, they should file prior notifications before implementing these price changes. The notification season varies internationally, with some nations requiring a week, while others a month. That means that if your shipping booking isn’t locked in before a GRI implementation, you will pay the new freight price.

  • Currency fluctuation 

In this dollar-controlled international trade era, any fluctuation in the US currency directly affects your overall container shipping price. All ocean freight prices depend on the dollar’s fluctuating exchange rates. Thus, shipping companies will levy these changes on your overall container shipping rates.

  • Fuel prices

All ships use fuel to transport cargo overseas. Therefore, any downward or upward changes in oil prices directly affect your container shipping prices. For instance, the ongoing Russian war on Ukraine has affected oil prices, directly affecting the cost of goods worldwide.

international container shipping


Additional costs to consider

Besides the six leading factors affecting international container shipping, you need to consider other additional costs. These costs can significantly affect your overall shipping costs. Some of these expenses are:

  • Container inspection fees

Formerly, port officials inspected containers manually. But the rise of electronic scanners has reduced the likelihood of manual inspections. However, chances are still there that customs officials might need to open the container and inspect it physically if they have reasonable suspicion. In such cases, a shipping company will require you to pay for the cost of this additional inspection process.

  • Inland delivery charges

If you decide to ship your container using a port-to-port approach, you will need to deliver the box to the departure port. Additionally, you will have to transfer the cargo from the destination port to its final destination. This process can be expensive and logistically challenging.

  • Quarantine fees

You might also incur quarantine fees if the landing port’s customs officials have a reason to inspect or look for goods they believe could harm human life or the environment.

5 Tips for Shipping Containers Overseas 

Boxes awaiting packaging for international shipping

Now you are abreast of the key factors determining your container’s overall shipping cost. The good news is that you can do something to reduce or even avoid some of these expenses. Below are the top five tips to help you ship your containers hassle-free.

  • Find out any applicable shipping restrictions

You need to find if the goods you want to ship abroad have any shipping restrictions. Some of these limitations might be for safety or other reasons custom officials find necessary.

  • Listen to your customers

Do you want to ship your containers abroad to your customers? Then it’s critical to listen to your overseas customers before sending your containers to them. Go ahead and gather feedback from your previous customers about your container shipping.

This listening attitude will let you know if they are happy with the way you packed their goods or not. If they were unhappy, it would be a golden opportunity to correct all the issues they raise. You will also be better positioned to know what your customers didn’t like about your packaging. This approach is more beneficial if you are new in a given business line because it helps you learn more. 

  • Prepare your goods for international shipping pressure

You also need to factor in your goods’ safety before shipping your containers abroad. It’s necessary to pack your goods securely to withstand the pressure of international transportation.

Therefore, arrange your goods so that they don’t crush during transit. You should use strong and reliable packing boxes because handlers use forklifts to unload items in many international deliveries. This approach further complicates the handling procedure.

  • Don’t forget labeling procedures 

It’s also critical to remember labeling procedures before packing goods in your container for international shipping. Never ignore correct labeling procedures because your containers need customer identification codes, gross and net weights, and port marks. However, don’t mark the exact contents inside your containers because it might tempt thieves.

  • Check allowed size and weight

Lastly, you should check out permitted weights and sizes before shipping your containers abroad. You must follow these instructions and ensure that your chosen packing boxes or crates can handle your goods’ gross weight.

Otherwise, they could damage your transit goods, especially when dealing with heavy and expensive products. This damage could cost you huge losses that could negatively impact your company’s overall profitability. So, remain safe and keep everything within your containers’ maximum load capacity. Check out your containers’ gross weight or weigh your goods and their contents separately to be on the safer side.

remarks on overseas container


Closing Remarks on Overseas Container Shipping Costs

Containers used for international freight 

The average cost of shipping a container abroad lies between $2,000 and $3,000. However, this rate can vary based on different prevailing factors at a given time. Elements like the prevailing oil prices at the international level, shipping seasons, and the dollar’s fluctuating exchange rates determine these rates. The shipping company you also choose greatly determines how much you will spend shipping your containers abroad.

Therefore, it’s necessary to consider all these determining factors because shipping costs directly affect your transportation budget. Anything affecting your marketing budget automatically eats into your business’s overall profitability, and you must do everything possible to address it.

So, choose your shipping partner carefully because they also affect your container shipping rates. Have you checked out our friendly international shipping rates? Go on and contact us for the best rates and services next time you want to ship containers abroad.

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