Challenges of international shipping explained

Compared to domestic shipping, we find that international shipping can get really complicated and daunting. There are many reasons for it, such as the price, insurance, taxes, duties, and so on. One of the challenges of international shipping is the transit time which depends on human errors, port delays, weather conditions, and other unpredictable factors. These challenges are not easy to overcome, as they can cause a domino effect in logistics and transportation services. It’s necessary for a sender to plan, be responsive, and have a backup plan to minimize the damage.

International shipping: Air, sea, or road freight?

There are pros and cons when transporting via plane (air freight) or boat (sea freight). For those choosing which one of the two ways to ship, here are a couple of factors to consider:

  1. Cost
  2. Time
  3. Distance
  4. Safety
Packages in transport
Content of the shipment goods safely packed before loaded into aircraft

The airplane uses more fuel and has less storage than a cargo boat. Another thing to keep in mind, sea freight is more eco-friendly. Therefore the cost of airfreight will be much higher transporting via sea. The volume of a cargo ship and its capabilities make international shipping an affordable option. For example, a Boeing 747-400 can hold up to 150 m3 of cargo. That’s about as much cargo as can fit in two semi-truck trailers. A cargo boat can carry 21.000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent unit or around 33m). An additional flaw of the cargo boat is that it cannot be anchored in any harbor/port due to its size, while an aircraft can land in almost every airport. Airfreight is much faster,  so the package can arrive in a couple of days, and with ocean shipping -it can take weeks.

Another important thing to keep in mind is the content of your shipment. For temperature-sensitive products, it’s hard to keep the quality by choosing sea freight. Airfreight is by far the safer alternative, unless you wish to ship products that are less sensitive, and for a cheaper price. Road freight is the most popular way of shipping, but it is rarely used for international shipping due to time consumption and price.

Tracking and insurance

Two things you should consider when shipping internationally –  tracking and insurance. Once the package you ship your package, you should check your confirmation email to see where your package is in the shipping process. If the parcel arrives safe and sound, the recipient will be happy. That is the power of tracking. Letting the recipient know where the shipment is at every step of the process. Most carriers already provide this to their customers but it’s always nice to check and make sure. You want your shipment to make it safely from point A to point B, so always choose a carrier who offers tracking services.

Cargo airplane before shipping
Airfreight is the fastest transport alternative compared to ocean, road, or rail transport.

Insurance for international shipping

The second thing to consider when shipping internationally is adding insurance. This seems to be a common question in the shipping and logistics world, to either add or not to add insurance. Some do not see the value, and others cannot ship without it. Think about the next scenario. You are shipping internationally- how confident are you that your shipment is going to make it across the seas and through the skies without incidents? Most situations that occur are often out of our control, so it’s nice to have that peace of mind knowing that your shipment is going to be protected from being lost or damaged with insurance.

Now again, most global carriers will offer insurance if it passes through their facility. But it’s not an automatic thing that is added- you will need to request it. You might find that some of your options are already rolled in the price of the carrier. Whatever you decide, you should consider adding insurance if the shipment is valuable. If you are unsure of the safety of your items, make sure to hire a trusted logistics company for international shipping that you are confident in, even if you are shipping for personal or professional reasons.

Current challenges of international shipping

When shipping to Bahrain, you want to consider all the challenges facing international shipping. Every type of freight can meet these unique and common challenges. Sea freight can face weather issues, while road freight may face traffic jams or construction delays.

Air cargo logistic challenges

Some of the most common challenges that affect the air cargo industry are security threats and skyrocketing fuel prices. More countries are now requiring air carriers to supply advanced information to customs on incoming shipments. They are also changing safety regulations, but there are fears that there will be an impact on operations and increase costs for all air cargo. Fuel cost has always been a major concern and number-one issue for the aviation industry.

Signing insurance contact
Cargo insurance is necessary to protect the cargo interest against inevitable losses that occur during the transportation of goods

The growth in the e-commerce sector led to a growth in goods being sent by air. E-commerce is a future widening driver for the air cargo industry, as there is a rise in these goods traveling by air. Online shopping boosts demand for parcel delivery so everyone involved in the air freight sector needs to rise to the challenge.

Sea cargo logistic challenges

The role of maritime transport is more important than ever, especially after COVID 19 hit in 2020. Cargo boats continued sailing overseas due to e-commerce growth (as well as with airfreight). It is a fact that ships use fewer human resources and have less human contact than other means of transport.

Coronavirus has diverted the world’s attention,  but piracy and armed attacks against ships and cargo boats remain a serious problem. Many of these attacks are motivated with the intention to steal cargo. It’s known that most ship types have been targeted, including bulk carriers and containerships, as well as offshore support vessels tankers. These are just some of the many issues in shipping internationally.

Challenges of international shipping are even more in the spotlight. A recent affair- now known as the 2021 Suez Canal obstruction, thought us how great the commercial importance of canals (such as the Panama and Suez canal) for the shipping industry is. Around 12% of global trade passes through the Suez canal each day. When shipping to Qatar, this canal is crucial as the alternative (around  Cape of Good Hope) can take up to 10 days more.