What is Sea Freight? Types, Forwarding, Service, Importance, Advantages, and More - VS Trans Lojistik PVT LTD

With a long, eventful, and undulating history, sea freight is a phenomenon in its own right. From the first-ever sailing ships built around 3000 to 1500 BC by the Austronesian people of China and Taiwan to the inception of the modern shipping sector in the 1970s, the seafaring world has come a long way. Currently, 90% international trade is manned by maritime transport, and the scope and relevance of the industry are stronger than ever.

Sea freight is the most affordable medium for transporting bulk goods over long distances. With better cost-efficiency, lesser emissions, and higher capacity, maritime transport stands out as a class apart from the rest. An average cargo vessel can carry 18,000 containers at full capacity, a revolutionary feat that makes globalization and economic liberalization a possibility. If you want to know about the A to Z of sea freight shipping and its advantages for enterprises, read ahead!

What is Sea Freight Shipping?

Sea freight is transporting bulk goods across oceans using carrier ships. Sea freight shipping is distinct from traditional modes of transportation as it is usually preferred for large loads of goods, heavy machinery, or volatile substances. It is one of the most pivotal parts of the supply chain. Sea transporting entails packaging goods into containers and loading them into vessels. The underlying premise of sea freight is simple: a shipping container is colossal enough to carry tonnes of goods and cannot be co-opted to transport small quantities of cargo due to its high cost. The stakeholders of sea freight shipping include sellers (manufacturers, buyers, ocean carriers, freight forwarders, brokers, port authorities, and insurance providers.)

Reputable logistics companies handle sea freight shipping. Their teams offer special assistance to streamline the entire process of transcontinental goods transportation. As a customer interested in ‘shipping’ freight overseas, you have to instruct them about your products, their weight, the type of goods you want to transport, and the pickup spot. Thus, during sea freight shipping, the logistics company personnel arranges the movement of the goods from your chosen location and performs all ensuing formalities and legalities with full security.

Types of Sea Transport

There are numerous types of sea transport, and some of them are mentioned below –

  • FCL or Full Container Load, wherein one or more full containers are purchased to be sent on a ship.
  • LCL or Less Container Load, wherein goods from different suppliers are shared in a container, owing to less quantity or magnitude. After reaching the destination, the container’s contents are divided once again.
  • RORO or Roll on Roll Off, wherein the goods do not leave the vehicle to get onto the cargo ship. Instead, the vehicle drives onto the ship and then drives off to the destination.
  • Dry Bulk Shipping is a specialized transit method wherein items are deposited into the ship’s hold instead of stacked inside a container.

Characteristics of Sea Transport

Understandably, sea transport is quite distinct from other conventional long-distance goods transfer. Sea transportation has unique characteristics, some of which are mentioned below –

  • Maritime Shipping is the most preferred mode of transportation for international shipments
  • Maritime transport is intrinsically linked to ports in the world’s seas and oceans and the swift connectivity to inland transportation via feeder vehicles.
  • Sea transportation is characterized by flexibility. Cargo vessels are adaptable to a range of freight requirements – from food grains to artillery and fuel gases; everything can be transported on vessels.
  • The presence of small and large vessels means that varying magnitudes of freight can be transported via sea transport. Thus, sea freight shipping is also incredibly adaptable.

What is Sea Freight Forwarding?

Simply put, sea freight forwarding is when a third party, typically a forwarding company, organizes the shipping of goods from one location to another. Sea freight forwarders coordinate and manage the entire process of Bulk transportation of goods for their clients by utilizing a range of vessels across the ocean. Thus, sea freight forwarding is the mediatory process wherein the goods of a manufacturer are shipped to the customer base.

Sea freight forwarders negotiate with shipping providers to get the best possible price for the company (client) making the shipment. The negotiation is done by comparing all the established commercial shipping routes and identifying the option that provides the highest efficiency vis-à-vis speed, cost, and reliability.

Freight forwarding entails the following steps –

  • Export Haulage – Freight forwarders provide “Export Haulage,” in which goods are moved from your facility to a storage facility.
  • Items Checkpoint – The freight forwarder examines the goods to ensure they were not lost during export haulage.
  • Clearing Customs for Export- The freight forwarder secures export customs clearance to facilitate the export of products.
  • Import Customs Clearance – Authorities in the destination country inspect the goods
  • Destination Arrival and Handling – The freight forwarders ensure that all documents have been received and examine the information. Then, they inspect the cargo and begin the sorting process.

What is Sea Freight Logistics?

Sea freight logistics is a part of supply chain management that purveys the efficient forward and revere flow of goods and services from the point of origin to the point of consumption. Sea freight logistics ties the supply chain together by transporting tangible goods like raw materials, food, equipment, etc., overseas. Simply put, sea freight logistics forms the backbone of contemporary international trade. The volume of cargo transported by ships has been increasing at an unprecedented rate and has doubled from four to 10.7 billion tons between 1990 and 2020.

Why Use Sea Freight Shipping: Importance

Sea freight shipping has many benefits, such as cost efficiency, safety, lower emissions, higher capacity, more versatility, etc. Sea freight shipping is used by enterprises and individuals who want to export important bulk quantities of goods from one country to another. The fact that the capacity of the worldwide merchant fleet inflated by about 37 percent between 2013 and 2020 is an apt testament to the importance of sea freight in the 21st century.

Sea transportation is the sole viable means of moving heavy goods. Items, such as raw materials, food grains, packaged goods, volatile substances, etc., can all be transported via seaways. Although almost all goods can be shipped using sea freight, it is best to consult with a freight forwarder. As a general thumb rule, if your goods weigh more than 100 kgs, it is best to opt for sea freight. However, if the goods you want to transport are dangerous, perishable, or volatile, you have to for special containers.

What is Full Container Loading or FCL?

Full Container Loading is a type of sea freight shipping. As the name suggests, Full Container Loading is when you buy the full container to transport goods. It is suitable for cargo that is huge enough to take up the space of one entire container on a vessel. If you choose FCL, you get a dedicated container to transport bulky goods.

What is Less Than Container Loading or LCL?

Less Than Container Loading, or LCL, is a type of sea freight shipping. It is suitable for transporting goods that are not enough in quantity to fill a whole container. Thus, the goods are transported in a shared container with other people.

What Are Sea Freight Rates/Charges – Depending Factors?

The sea freight rate is the cost at which a specific cargo can be delivered from one country to another via carrier vessels. The factors upon which sea freight charges depend are –

  • The weight of the cargo
  • Distance to the delivery country
  • Size of the cargo
  • Points of pickup and delivery
  • The actual goods being shipped

What are the Advantages of Sea Transport?

  • Cost Effectiveness – Transit by sea is the most cost-effective mode of moving goods across continents.
  • Lower Emissions – Maritime transport usually produces lower emissions, even on low volumes. In addition, there have been persistent efforts to make sea transportation even more eco-friendly.
  • Capacity – Carrier vessels can transport huge amounts of goods and raw materials from the origin country to the destination.
  • Efficiency – Sea transport is incredibly efficient for heavy items, as their transit becomes exorbitantly pricey when done via airways. Moreover, shipping containers can be easily transmitted from the merchant’s vessel to a truck or rail, thereby facilitating easy inland travel.
  • Versatility – With LCL and FCL sea freight shipping options, it is possible to transport varying quantities of cargo via carrier vessels from one country to another.


Sea freight shipping has unrivaled significance in today’s day and age. Global trade is directly dependent on sea logistics. Moreover, the efficiency, speed, safety, and competitive pricing of maritime transport make it the most reliable means of moving bulk goods across long distances. With the presence of sea transport types, like LCL, FCL, RoRo, and more, diverse quantities and types of cargo can be loaded onto carrier vessels to traverse a seafaring journey and finally reach the end consumer.

Call to Action

The globalization of enterprise begins when it leverages sea transportation to create a cosmopolitan customer base. By taking the assistance of the right sea freight logistics company, you can revolutionize the face of your business and become a true leader.

At VS Trans Lojistik LLP, we help connect 195 countries via the sea and ocean ways. Our comprehensive ocean freight services assure you that your goods are safe as we meticulously manage the A to Z of seafaring cargo transfers. Browse through our personalized features, and step into a world of seafaring possibilities.

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