'Whale Knows' - Things to Know When Booking Shipments In Advance

When booking shipments in advance, in order to meet delivery times and customer expectations, there are many factors that should be considered when planning at origin. In this blog post, Walter, our Client Relationship Manager, goes through some of your Shippers requirements that they need to take into consideration when booking shipments ahead of time.

Planning shipments

As with any type of cargo, planning is the most important step in ensuring your supply chain performs smoothly. Both applicable to air freight and sea freight, it is important that all the forward planning is done at origin (point of supply, or at manufacturer), and done well in advance of the expected cargo departure date.

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At origin, several things need to happen before your cargo departs. Firstly, you must make sure to book your cargo with your nominated freight forwarder, either using FCL (full container load) or LCL (less than container load, or loose cargo). 

Read our guide on How to Choose the Right Freight Forwarder

When you are preparing to make the booking, it is recommended that a booking is made and details provided to your forwarding agent at least 2-3 weeks prior to the actual cargo ready date with the required information such as shipment volumes and service required. Shipment volumes may also include information such as volumetric weight, and services such as type of trucking or delivery should also be agreed and arranged beforehand. Booking early will not only get you the best pricing, but also secure the guaranteed space on the shipping line service.

On the other hand, if you don't book well enough ahead of time, you may face some consequences which may affect your business, such as:

  • Vessel fully booked and shipment will be delayed until the next available vessel, this may mean you miss your delivery deadline to your customer.
  • Spot rate (for last minute bookings) may be required to obtain the sailing you require, this may result in a higher price than you had originally factored into your landed costs
  • Late booking may require express clearance and trucking at origin requiring a premium service to get the cargo shipped as required which will also result in higher costs than anticipated.

Origin handling

The steps that follow the booking fall into the origin handling category, which is when your goods are readied for departure. Origin handling involves the following steps to getting the cargo loaded and on board the vessel:

  • Physical handling of the freight: This may include loading, unloading, and proper packaging of the freight, if your supplier has not done so already. Remember, the responsibility of the supplier often ends the moment the goods arrive at the docks, so be sure to check the Incoterms to avoid time delays.
  • Trucking: This includes any transportation necessary between the supplier and your cargo departure point.
  • Export clearance (and treatment if required): Each country will have specified requirements for export clearance. In some cases treatment may be required to comply to these standards. Make sure you are aware of these requirements beforehand and avoid delays by having your cargo treated if necessary.
  • Random inspection of the cargo: Random inspections are sometimes necessary to ensure security and exercise proper control at border. Failure to comply may result in your cargo to be denied passage.

Although times may vary vastly, usually you may allow 3-5 working days for origin handling. If there are hiccups along the way, your freight forwarder should be in contact with you at all times to resolve the problem together.

Follow the tips above to ensure your cargo is smooth sailing to your destination on time.

If you liked this blog post, stay tuned as our staff introduces more commonly asked issues on our Whale Knows series. Subscribe to our blog to get sent free updates weekly! And if you still have questions regarding booking shipments in advance, contact Walter or one of our friendly Customer Success Managers here.


Whale Logistics are Australia’s leading Freight Forwarder and Logistics company located in Sydney and Melbourne. We deliver digital services such as Australian customs parcel tracking, parcel delivery box, and comprehensive ocean, air and road freight solutions. For cost competitive and innovative ocean freight solutions, please click the link below to contact a Whale Logistics Freight Specialist today for a quote.

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