Understanding ocean freight – and what it means for your business

Ocean freight is the method of transporting often large loads of goods by sea – putting cargo in large containers which are loaded onto vessels.

Over 90% of all the world’s trade is carried by sea – and even more in some countries. As a general rule, shipments weighing more than 100kg – or consisting of multiple cartons – will be sent by sea freight. Some further restrictions apply to certain goods from country to country, but most items are allowed.

Sea freight is a method of transporting large quantities of product via cargo ships; goods are packed into containers and these containers are loaded onto a vessel, where they will be sailed to their destination country.


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Sea Freight is a method of transporting large amounts of goods using carrier ships. Goods are packed into containers and then loaded onto a vessel. A typical cargo ship can carry around 18,000 containers, which means that sea freight is a cost-efficient way to transport high quantities over large distances

Frequently Asked Questions

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FCL or Full Container Load is a standard set by the ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) which refers to one 20 or 40ft container filled with cargo. A shipper uses up the space of the entire container.

LCL or Less than Container Load refers to a shipment that doesn’t fill one 20 or 40ft standard container. In the case of LCL, several shippers load their cargo into a single container. While LCL is the cheaper option for small shipments, it costs more money per unit of freight as compared to FCL.

Port free days refers to the number of days for which a port allows the importer to keep the containers in the port area for free. Once the limit of port free days is exceeded, the port storage charges published in the port tariff are applied.

On the other hand, line-free days is the number of days the shipping line gives to the customer to pick up a full container, take it to their facility for unpacking and return the empty container to the concerned shipping line. After the line free days, the shipping line imposes a charge for every extra day taken by the customer to return the container.

Here is an example to demonstrate how detention and demurrage charges are calculated:

A container is discharged off a ship on the 5th of December; the concerned importer takes the release of the cargo from the port on 15th December. He returns the empty container to the concerned depot on 22nd December.

Let’s assume:

  • Demurrage free days offered by the shipping line = 7 days
  • Detention free days offered by the shipping line = 10 days
  • Free days at port = 3 days

In this case, here’s how the demurrage charge will be calculated:

On the 15th of December, the container would have been in the port for a total of 11 days. In the above-mentioned scenario, line-free days for demurrage will expire on the 11th of December.

11 days dwell time – 7 free days = 4 days more than the allowed limit

Hence, the shipping line will charge the consignee a demurrage charge for 4 days from 12th to 15th December.

Here’s how detention charge will be calculated:

The full container moves out of port on the 15th and let’s assume that the consignee returns the empty container of on the 22nd of December.

  • Detention free days = 10 days so the container can be returned till the 24th of December. But as the consignee returned the empty container on the 22nd of December, detention charges won’t be applied.

As the name implies port charges refer to the charges levied by port authorities on the containers it handles. Some of the port charges involved in container shipments are as follows:

Terminal Handling Charge (THC)

Terminal Handling Charge is levied by ports for loading and discharging of a container from the ship. It is charged by both the port of loading as well as the port of discharge. THC varies from port to port and terminal to terminal across the world. It is also paid to transhipment ports if there’s a transhipment along the route. However, for transhipment ports, THC is paid directly to the port by the shipping line. It is usually included in the ocean freight charges paid by the shipper to the shipping line in advance.

Early Arrival Charge

At times containers arrive at the port even before the stacks into which it is to be taken has opened, in this case, the port levies the early arrival charge. It is usually at the discretion of the port operator to decide whether or not to accept containers that arrive early.

Late Arrival Charge

At times containers arrive at the port after the stacks into which it is to be taken has been closed, in this case, the port levies the late arrival charge.

Shifting charges

Sometimes situations arise under which the destination of a port gets changed or the ship in which it is to be sent gets changed or the container requires an inspection. In such cases, the container needs to be shifted around within the stacks and the charges levied on it are called shifting charges.

Amendment/Cancellation charges

It refers to the charges levied by the port for cancelling or amending any document lodged with them.

An ocean carrier that moves cargo under its own House Bill of Lading or an equivalent document and does not operate the vessels by which ocean transportation is provided is called a Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC).

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A headache-free ocean freight forwarding solution with fast online quotes, tools that simplify your shipping and the resources to get your freight on the water fast.

How Does New Option Group Simplify Ocean Freight Shipping?

When the world of global trade is at your fingertips, entering new overseas markets is an inviting prospect, but the complexities of international ocean freight shipping can create challenges for SMEs.

New Option Group solves that problem, by bringing Agility’s global logistics network to your virtual front door. One digital online platform, a straightforward sign-up, and you’re shipping like the big boys.

  • An-easy-to-complete form to get your initial ocean freight shipping quote.
  • Thousands of international trade lanes served.
  • FCL and LCL ocean freight shipping services.
  • Ocean freight door to door shipping and port to port services.
  • Transparent pricing includes shipping and transport fees.
  • A customer support team to help you with more complex shipping requirements.
  • Online compliance engine to simplify document completion.

Get your quote, make your booking, pay your freight, and track your shipment, all online, on one tab of your browser, with New Option Group, the SME’s ocean freight forwarder.

The Advantages of New Option Group’s Services for Ocean Freight Shipping

Person checking ocean freight for shipping with Shipa Freight

Online Instant Quotes

If you’re looking for ocean freight shipping services, speed of transport is probably not your highest priority, but that doesn’t mean you want to wait around for forwarders to respond to your quote requests. At New Option Group, you request your quote online, and in many cases, it will be with you momentarily. If we can’t quote you instantly, our team will let you know right away, and get to work to supply you with a custom quote.

Easier Online Booking

Our customer support team is on hand when you need us, but if you’re used to getting things done online, you like that self-service freedom, and the feeling that you’re in control. Booking ocean freight overseas shipping with New Option Group is fast, straightforward, and transparent, so you know precisely where you are and when you’re done.

Diversed Payment Methods

Once you have booked your shipment, you can pay online using one of several convenient methods available. Options include credit and debit card, wire transfer, and pay-at-bank-branch. You may also be able to request business credit, which eliminates the payment step when booking, so you spend even less time organizing your freight, and more time organizing your business.

Track Your Cargo Transit Online

Those long days when your valuable goods are in transit can be nerve-wracking, prompting a few too many phone calls to your forwarder to try and get updated. With New Option Group real-time shipment tracking, you can see exactly where your assets are at any given time.

Stress-Free Customs Clearance

Our industry-leading compliance engine walks you through the information-gathering required to complete your shipping documentation, including documents specific to your ports of origin and destination, and the nature of your goods. We’ll make sure your documents are completed accurately and correctly, so you don’t need to feel intimidated by import and export procedure.

Ship the Way You Want

Our services cover more than 100 countries and are tailored to suit your business’ needs. We can ship full container-loads (FCL) or less-than-container-load (LCL) consignments, door-to-port, port-to-door, port-to-port, and door-to-door. We’ll even advise you as to which transportation mode would best suit your needs, based on the volume and type of goods you are shipping.

Get Help When You Need It

New Option Group is a technology-first logistics service, but we understand that people often want to communicate with people. That’s why our knowledgeable customer support team is standing by 24/7 to help you with your freight inquiries. When you need help, we’re right here, and accessible by live chat, phone, or email.

Key Features of Our Solution

Team working on a shipment at Shipa Freight

Now you know the essential facts, like what we do and how we can help your business, you might like to know a little about the solution that makes all those benefits possible.

New Option Group offers you the critical advantage of a simple-to-use online tool, along with personal support when you need it, to take the complexity out of commercial ocean shipping.

Key platform features include:

  • A powerful quote engine that can supply a global ocean freight shipping quote in moments .
  • An experienced pricing team to help shippers with more complex requirements.
  • A fully integrated freight quotation, booking, payment, and tracking solution.
  • Access to help through live chat, by phone, or via email.
  • A logistics network that serves around 100 countries worldwide.
  • Platform-access via a free, fast, and simple registration process.
  • Live shipment tracking provides end-to-end visibility of your freight.
  • A compliance engine that makes it easy to generate shipping, import, and export documents.
  • Quick-quote facility available for users to enter shipment details without signing in.


Your Ocean Freight Questions Answered

When should I use ocean freight logistics services?

Ocean shipping makes sense when your shipments are large (more than one pallet), or of any size if you are not in a hurry for goods to reach their destination. When it comes to freight rates, all but the smallest shipments will be less expensive to ship via ocean freight (when compared to air-freight costs), so if your budget is constrained, an LCL (less-than-container-load) or FCL (full container load) shipment will be your best bet.

What is New Option Group’s experience with ocean freight global shipping? New Option Group is part of Agility, one of the world’s largest logistics companies. We are leveraging new technology to give SMEs access to Agility’s vast and well-established network of transportation assets and partnerships. Ocean freight services are core business for Agility and New Option Group, so you need not be concerned with the insecurities that might typically surround startups in the freight forwarding space.

What makes New Option Group more convenient for SMEs?

We’re able to offer convenience to SMEs because our online platform is easy to access and free from complex business-onboarding procedures, we provide self-service quote requests, shipment-bookings, payments, and shipment tracking, and our software makes it easy for businesses to maintain compliance with import, export, shipping, and customs documentation requirements.

What’s in an ocean freight shipping quote?

Ocean freight rates can be complicated to understand, comprising a range of different charges. For this reason, it’s never easy to calculate precisely how much you will pay for an ocean shipment until you have a quote from your freight forwarder.

Carriers, customs services, insurance companies, and port authorities all require fees for handling and managing your goods. These fees are not always broken out clearly in ocean freight quotes, so it can be hard to understand where your money is being spent. At New Option Group, we provide you with quotes that are broken down into individual elements, so you have complete transparency of your shipping costs.

How can customers benefit from Shipment Tracking?

When you can track your shipments in real time and receive notifications at all critical stages, you can be less reactive and plan more effectively. Ultimately, visibility is the key to efficiency and cost savings for your business, especially if you’re the consignee.

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Fast Delivery

You benefit from every innovation, whether it involves a simple extension to our Air and Ocean Freight products, whether it means a development in warehousing.

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All of which explains why you’ll find the team of outstanding support at TransCargo ready to apply their passion for solutions in support of your business.