Inland Ports

When people first get into international shipping there are many new terms to learn that even advanced shippers and freight forwarders may get wrong. Most people use the terms how they have heard them used and never actually find out what they mean. One of the biggest questions that comes to mind is: What are the inland ports? Or how can there be a port if it is in land? An inland in shipping terms is a place that is land locked and would require truck or rail service to get to with a shipping container. An inland port is just that, a port that is inland.

Generally speaking there are two uses for the term “inland port”. One which is used less often is a transfer point for containers. It is a dry port that is used just to move cargo to the next mode of transportation. Sometimes it might be at a border crossing like Montreal or a hub port like Chicago. Sometimes they are used as a transfer point because they are centrally located, but they are also used as a transfer point away from overcrowded seaports.

The other type of “inland port” is actually a water port, usually up a river that only smaller ships can get to. An example would be the port of Philadelphia. Ships come up the Delaware River to get to Philadelphia, but it is much further inland than New York or Newark ports. Generally mother vessels will not have time to call on these smaller ports, nor will their size permit. Instead steamship lines will use feeder vessels for these containers.

In both uses of the term, inland ports have become standard in international container shipping.