Shipping products, goods and cargo overseas can be tricky business, but if done correctly, can be fruitful and profitable for those businesses looking to grow.

It goes without saying that exporting overseas can help increase customer base, stimulate competition, access more markets and establish presence in other countries, and drive turnover and bottom line growth. For many businesses, a tried and tested product in one market may suit other markets, but getting the goods on the ground requires risk taking and careful planning.

We’ve put together a few tips on shipping goods overseas.

1. Work with a customs broker

For those who are less familiar with the process, a customs broker will have the experience and in market knowledge of shipping cargo to certain ports or terminals.

A customs broker or freight forwarder could also help your business avoid hefty fees and charges for filling out paperwork incorrectly, or unexpected delays. Read our free guide on Customs Documentation for Exporters here.

2. Know your business and your numbers

In a world of knowing your customer, customer’s customers, and your goods, it’s important to know the facts about the parties in your supply chain. Banks, shipping companies and customs will need to know this, so have it to hand.

It’s important to find out all of the costs for you to produce and ship goods, including:

  • Import and export duties
  • International regulations or restrictions on certain goods or markets
  • VAT
  • Shipping costs

In terms of the goods themselves, it’s important to know the dimensions and weight of the goods being shipped, and whether dismantling the goods or flat packing is more cost effective to fit into a shipping container.

3. Look out for taxes and duties

To avoid delays in your goods reaching the final destination, look up the locations where the goods are coming from to see whether they are eligible to local duty and taxes. These fees might apply in certain export or non-trade free zones.

4. Consider import or export restrictions

When importing or exporting internationally, many markets have restrictions or limits of what can come in or out of a country, and you could face heavy penalties if you don’t abide local laws.

As an example, some perishable goods might have pests or non-indigenous plants / seeds which are restricted in some countries. Read our Incoterms 101 here.

5. Assess your budget and stick to your plan

There are many costs involved in shipping overseas, and to avoid it impacting your bottom line, it’s important to consider the shipping costs as a percentage of margin when thinking about how much you’ll charge your customer.

Costs include:

  • freight forwarder or customs broker
  • Import and export taxes and duty
  • Insurance
  • Container Yard (CY) or CFS Services Charges
  • Terminal or port charges
  • Delivery to the customer from the port
  • Packaging costs

Want to find out more about shipping and transport?

View our Shipping and Logistics Guide

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