When trying to ship packages across long distances, the first thing people consider is how long the shipping process will take. They also consider what the most reliable and flexible shipping options are as well as the best freight shipping service for them.  

International freight timelines can be somewhat complicated to predict because it’s affected by several factors, such as the size of the shipment, mode of transport, travel distance, routes, and many more. Nevertheless, international freight shipping can take anywhere between a couple of days to several months. 

Modes of Freight Shipping 

Air Freight Shipment

This is the fastest and most expensive way to ship cargo. It is usually used in transporting packages with lesser weight. Although this mode of shipping is more expensive than other shipping modes, it is the most suitable way of shipping urgent and time-sensitive shipments.

When shipping goods within the same continent, air freight usually takes 24 hours or less to arrive. But for inter-continental shipments, it may take between 1-3 days to arrive. In some circumstances, consignees may be able to collect their goods on the day of arrival.

Sea Freight Shipment

Freight shipment by the sea offers the most cost-effective way to ship goods anywhere in the world. With this shipment mode, you would be able to select from different transit time options. Also, you would have the option of shipping either by a full container load or a less-than-container load.

Sea freights can have a transit time of between 20 to 60 days, depending on factors such as weather conditions, seasons, and the operational procedures of the shipping company, seaports, and customs authorities. It is not ideal for goods with urgent delivery, but it is best for full container loads and non-urgent deliveries.

Shipment by Container Load

  • Less than a Container Load Freight (LCL)

An LCL freight is an economical way of transporting smaller items. It allows different people with small goods to use the same container, saving them the cost of paying for a full container load. Hence, making this a cost-effective and reliable service.

  • Full container Load Freight (FCL)

An FCL freight utilizes the entire space in a container for a single consignee. It is usually used for goods that require sensitive packaging to avoid damage. It is also used for packages that need immediate delivery.

Rail Freight Shipment

Rail shipment is one of the safest and cheapest ways of shipping goods over long distances. It has a lesser transit time than sea freight. The transit time is usually easy to predict since rail transport is not affected or dependent on traffic conditions but railway timetables. For instance, the estimated transit time for rail freight from China to the United Kingdom (Europe) is 16-18 days.

Expedited Freight Shipment 

This is a shipping method that deals with time-sensitive cargo but usually at a higher price. Expedited shipping ensures that goods are delivered faster than they would have arrived. For instance, if the transit time of air freight is 6-7 days, with expedited shipping, the transit time may take 3-4 days. It is normally used by pharmaceutical or medical companies.

Intermodal Freight Shipment

Intermodal freight shipping usually combines different modes of transportation to get to its destination, such as air freight and rail freight. Here, intermodal containers are used to transfer shipments without difficulties between trains, ships, or trucks.

The transit time in intermodal shipping depends on the different shipment modes that are used.

How To Calculate Freight Shipping Time

Freight shipping time can be easily calculated using some variables. If you are shipping boxes or pallets, you’ll need to provide the specific dimensions of the boxes in centimeters, total volume, number of boxes, and the weight in kilograms. In addition, you’ll provide the origin of the freight and the destination it’s heading to; this will be used to calculate the travel distance. All the stated variables will be used to estimate the freight transit timeline.

If you’re shipping containers, the variables used in calculating the travel timeline can be a bit different. Most times, you’ll only need the quantity of the container, the container size as well as the origin and destination of the freight. 

Depending on your package, there are several shipping companies you can choose from. So, make sure to check if a shipping method fits well before opting for it. This would save you time and money and also simplify the shipping process.