Your First Import Shipping Container

If you are getting ready for your first time importing, it may help you to know the basics of how your cargo will move and what you will need to get things started with your freight forwarder. First you will need to determine what size international shipping container is required and what your time frame will be. Most freight forwarders will require notification of the load date at least week ahead of when you want to ship a full container load (FCL) and 3-4 day for Less than Container Load (LCL). They would also be able to advise you ocean freight rates at this point if you have not already determined them.

Once your container leaves for shipment, your supplier should notify you with a pro-forma invoice which will give you all of the details of what is shipping in your container. It will also list the agreed upon price and any special details concerning the shipment. Once the container ships, you will receive a copy of the shipping documents as well as the ETA of the ship. You should also receive a pre-advice from the steamship line closer to the arrival day of your container. This will make it easier to plan for local transportation to your facility once the container arrives. If you do not have a domestic trucking company already set either on your own or as a through rate, you should be able to get a good recommendation from your forwarder. They may even have one already set up as part of their freight forwarding services. Getting ready for your first shipment can be stressful, but with a little planning and good shipping partners, everything should flow smoothly.