What are the various kinds of  freight shipping methods?

If you plan to work in the field of international trade or import and export, it is necessary to familiarize yourself with certain trade-related issues and how to transport the shipment or goods, whether within the country or across borders.

Delivery methods

There are three common methods you can use to ship goods abroad:

1-Air cargo

This method concerns the shipment of goods inside an aircraft, where the goods are stacked on wooden bases called pallets. Air cargo is the most cost-effective shipping method. It should be noted that you cannot ship huge quantities by air cargo, as the minimum load carried by a cargo aircraft is about one hundred tons of cargo, and the maximum load carried by a large cargo aircraft is six hundred tons. Still, those are modest numbers compared to the 400,000 tonnes of cargo that can be moved in the case of marine cargo.

What are the advantages of air freight?

Air freight may be especially recommended for transporting bulky, precious, fragile or dangerous products. It is the preferred solution for routes requiring short delivery times over long distances. Air freight guarantees you an excellent transit time and thus minimizes supply disruption problems in the supply chain.

In the context of the short time market, air freight may be the only viable solution for delivering your goods on time.

Scheduled flights also make it possible for you to plan your delivery times to optimize them. Finally, air freight is considered one of the safest ways of transporting goods.

Air Cargo Shipping Process

In order to provide you with a realistic idea of the transit time of shipments by conventional air cargo, we must consider all the steps of the shipping process:

  1. Removal of goods
  2. Pre-routing
  3. Customs declaration on departure
  4. Air cargo
  5. Customs clearance
  6. Post-routing

Unlike sea freight, it is impossible to estimate the transit time of the entire process. Indeed, it will depend on the trucking time (if you are far from the departure airport), if the products are sensitive and require a special customs inspection, if you choose a flight with or without stopovers, etc.

The most suitable goods for air transport

An air freight company is the preferred solution for food transport and certain goods and products:

  • Life-limited products: perishable foods (fruits and vegetables, seafood, fresh fruit, etc.).
  • Fragile products: laboratory instruments, medical equipment, electronics and household appliances.
  • Dangerous goods such as nuclear weapons or laboratory products.
  • Goods of high economic value such as works of art, confidential documents, precious metals, cars, jewelry, and fashion collections.
  • Oversized goods.

2-Land freight

This method concerns the shipment of goods inside containers or on the back of trucks traveling on land routes, where goods are transported from one country to another across borders. Land freight is the cheapest shipping method. It should be noted, however, that in the case of land freight, less cargo is transported compared to air and sea freight, so that the maximum load of the truck is only 30 tonnes of cargo.
Below are definitions of various shipment modes, each corresponding to unique necessities.

1. The courier service:

The courier service of a transport company aims to deliver packages for professionals or individuals in urban areas.

A courier’s mission is to quickly transport parcels using light vehicles (scooters, motorcycles or small utility vehicles).

Three standard services are generally offered by the companies: express races, regular tours and personalized transport.

  • Express Shipping is an urgent transport order that typically takes less than two hours to complete.
  • Regular tours and recurring transports are scheduled.
  • Custom shipments are deliveries that may have a greater geographic scope and shorter turnaround times (i.e., one package to one recipient).

Deliveries are invoiced according to the distance and time frame requested by the customer, as well as the weight and dimensions of the packages.

2. Courier transportation :

Courier transportation is a practice that requires a carrier to make at least one stop at a platform so that its goods are sorted before being transported to its final destination.

Messaging can be done nationally or internationally.

There are no weight and volume limits for goods transported.

Delays for transport are variable.

The delays are longer by courier than by direct transport. The rates will therefore be more attractive for this type of shipment.

3. Bundling:

Bundling is the organization and execution of a shipment with goods that originate from multiple shippers and are destined for one or more consignees.

This solution is more economical than direct transport but delivery times are longer.

4. Express Transportation:

This type of shipment refers to transportation without a load break between a pick-up point and a delivery point.

The execution is fast and the deadlines are determined in advance.

The rates for these services are higher than those for courier transport because the delivery times are reduced.

5. Accompanied Transportation:

The delivery man delivers valuable goods by hand.

This transport service requires high security measures.

These transports are carried out worldwide by rail, road or air.

The volume and dimensions of the goods are limited.

6. Dedicated transportation :

These transports are adapted to the specificities of the applicant’s activity in terms of time constraints, the particular equipment to be provided, the special organization to be planned, etc.

Example: the transport of works of art that require an expertise in the handling of objects.

7. Chartering:

Chartering is the transport of heavy goods worldwide in accordance with the specifications of the contractor.

The nature and packaging of the goods to be transported determines the choice of mode of transport.

Delivery times vary and depend on the geographical area of destination, the packaging and the nature of the goods.

Each transport request corresponds to a suitable method of dispatch.

There are many constraints and regulations require strict and rigorous standards.

3-Sea Freight

This method concerns the shipment of goods inside containers, where the containers are on board a huge cargo ship with a capacity of 15000 containers, and the maximum load of the ship is 400000 tons of cargo. Sea freight is a highly economical method of shipping goods, even compared to the air or land freight methods, especially when shipping bulky goods. Sea freight is also the most common means of transport and shipping in the Arab world, due to the possibility of shipping a large quantity of goods at an affordable price. It should be noted that the cost of shipping decreases as the volume of goods increases. The additional cost of the products decreases, allowing you to sell them for less, and more quickly. For example, the cost of shipping a 20-foot container with a capacity of 15 tonnes of cargo is about $1,000. To double the quantity, the price will be about $1,500, not double the shipping cost of the small container.

The type of transport

Transportation costs have increased dramatically since the COVID-19 crisis and the end of detention. This increase is mainly due to the increase in container prices. Therefore, the cost of ocean freight varies depending on the type of transport, origin and destination.

Container ships: with a size of 20 or 40 feet, this type of vessel is used most frequently. They transport goods of all kinds.

Bulk transport: this type of transport is preferred for bulk cargo transportation. It is perfect for grain, coal, or minerals.

RoRo: RoRo are boats that carry trucks full of goods.

Refrigeration boats: these are mainly used for transporting food.

Tanks : this type of boat is dedicated to the transport of dangerous goods.

The type of goods

Sea shipping is one of the most utilized forms of export freight as it allows for the transportation of a large volume of goods around the world. Shipping costs are calculated on the basis of 1 ton of goods per 1 cubic meter used. So even if the shipping time is longer, its price is much more affordable.

The type of cargo directly affects the carrier’s price. Therefore, shipping rates vary depending on the goods:

  • Liquid
  • Perishable (for transporting food)
  • Dangerous or flammable
  • Gas

As such, depending on the nature of your goods, it can be ideal to choose to apply a one-time tax. The latter offers barrel pricing rather than weight.

Air Cargo Vs. Marine Cargo


If your expedition exceeds 2m3, it will certainly be more advantageous to consider a maritime solution. Below that, air freight brokers will certainly be more advantageous.

Note that prices are likely to vary depending on the price of oil, the place of departure and arrival, etc.


In terms of time, air transport is by far the fastest means of transport. For example, the delays between China and France would be:

  • 6 to 8 days by air
  • 40-45 days by sea


Shorter transportation times mean greater reliability. In fact, litigation caused by air transport is infrequent:

  • Less handling than sea freight, therefore less breakage
  • Specific airlines, so little delay

Air or sea freight? How to chose

If you want fast shipping and you import a volume of less than 2m3, air freight will be cheaper. On the other hand, if time is not an issue, we advise you to choose sea freight, which will be more advantageous.

Finally, note that the type of product being transported is also a factor to consider. Certain products are prohibited on board a plane. Therefore, a maritime solution will be imposed on you.

How to choose the appropriate shipping method for the goods?

Some people do not know how to choose the proper way to ship goods. For example, should you ship your goods by air, sea, or land?

When importing from a distant country, the maritime shipping method is the best, in the absence of urgency in the period of arrival of the goods.

In the case of importing or exporting vegetables, fruits, or other perishable goods, air cargo is best.

In the case of importing or exporting goods from a country that is accessible by land, land freight will certainly be preferable due to the low cost.

Bill of Lading

The bill of lading is one of the most important shipping documents. It is an invoice or a contract between the shipping company and the owner of the goods. It contains many data points, including the type of goods, their quantity, the date of shipment, the port of departure, the port of arrival, and other important cargo data. The bill of lading is extracted by the shipping company, after the goods have been fully shipped on board the carrier, whether it is an airplane, a boat or a truck. The freight agent receives the invoice in order to send it to the cargo owner, who uses the policy to complete the clearance process when unloading the goods at the port of arrival.

Export Clearance Stage

For each shipment leaving a country, customs formalities must be carried out to meet regulatory requirements. Customs clearance is an activity in which the declaration and submission of necessary documents to the competent authority can be carried out only by companies with a valid customs license, known as customs brokers.


You must choose the best means of transport for your goods according to your budget, and you must ensure that your products will be shipped as soon as possible.

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