Top 4 Challenges You Need to Master for International Shipping

By Raimond Van Kampen, Vice President of International Logistics, CLX Logistics

As increased globalization and mobile workforces continue to create opportunities for international business, it is more important than ever to realize the need for seamless global trade. Of course, international shipping is a complex service with countless moving parts, including regulations, security, capacity and legal considerations – all which can lead to a reliable and cost-effective shipment when tended to properly. Whether you are shipping one container per month, or 10 containers per day, successful shippers are aware of global challenges such as adhering to international rules and regulations, using suitable shipping methods, considering supply chain visibility, and knowing when to turn to freight forwarding and broker specialists to get the job done.

For many global companies, conducting seamless business overseas is critical to the vitality of partnerships, clientele, and sustained profitability. Oftentimes, many people within a company are dependent on the attainment of a global shipment, so avoiding delays or mishaps is imperative to ensuring a continuous and uninterrupted operation, which radiates performance excellence.

In order to continue conducting reliable and cost-effective business overseas, it is important to know how to combat the top four international shipping challenges:

1. Don’t rule out the importance of international rules and regulations. Understanding the various, and constantly changing, requirements and regulations from across the globe is critical to seamless shipping. The most common problems encountered with international shipping arise from paperwork errors and customs brokers not having the proper information about your items. To avoid significant delays or additional costs to your transportation spend as a result of overlooked logistics, be sure to collaborate with customs at origin and destination to ensure all information is compliant with regulations and procedures.

2. Get your priorities straight to determine which transportation mode is best. When choosing which mode of international transportation to use for your shipment, be sure to know your timeline, budget, and any regulations associated with the materials or goods you are shipping. If cost is a primary concern, then ocean shipments, particularly Full Container Loads, are going to be best. If timeliness is key, then airfreight is often recommended. When shipping FDA approved goods, there are separate regulations and documentation that is required, and leaning on a logistics specialist for assistant is often the best bet.

3. Recognize the importance of supply chain visibility. When shipping internationally, the importance of supply chain visibility from a customer service and financial perspective is especially crucial. Understanding where your cargo is at any given time gives you the ability to prepare for the next step – if you’re aware that a shipment will be arriving in a few days, then you can start the clearance process. This saves time and allows for quicker access and less chance for storage charges and delays, which could arise if you wait for arrival notice from the carrier.

4. Know when to ask for help and leave it to the specialists. No matter how many or how few shipments you move internationally, it doesn’t take much for a shipment to get complicated, fast. Third Party Logistics Providers (3PLs) act as an extension of your logistics services and are proud to represent your company’s name and reputation. This is why the best logistics providers employ only trained specialists who are well-versed in international shipping regulations and compliance. To maintain control and visibility of your shipment the entire time, 3PL’s:

  • Organize bookings with the carrier
  • Handle arrangements for loading or take control of the cargo at the agreed upon point
  • Work with customs at origin and destination to assure all paperwork and information is compliant with rules and regulations
  • Work with the carrier to transfer any needed information
  • Are in direct communication with the shipper and receiver for documentation and information throughout the process

It’s no secret that transferring items or goods internationally requires an experienced shipper with the necessary knowledge to cover all necessary bases. By keeping apprised of ever-changing global regulations and knowing the international savviness and capabilities of your company’s shipping department, you can determine what to handle in-house and when to lean on freight forwarding and broker specialists to avoid pitfalls and remove challenges of global shipping. In short, due diligence is key – and when it doubt, turn to an experienced professional.

It’s often the best route to take.


Raimond van Kampen is Vice President of International Logistics at CLX Logistics. He brings 25 years of strong experience in the transportation sector to his role, where he leads overall operational responsibility for the company’s international transportation and logistics activities, including ocean and air freight and managed international logistics services. Prior to joining the CLX team, Raimond worked at nVision Global Supply Chain Services as the Chief Commercial Officer, and held positions with Kuehne and Nagel, Fritz (UPS), and Wim Bosman.

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