How Do International Shipments Work?

International Shipments Work

Before modern technology, people were already shipping goods from one land to another. The Spanish, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians sailed to different lands to deliver goods and other essential things for civilization to prosper.

But it wasn’t easy back then. The unloading and loading process took a lot of time and involved a lot of manual labor. And ships spend most of their time at the docks rather than at the sea because of it.

But as time passed and technology evolved, everything became easier and faster. You can even track your cargo using shipment trackers.

So, if you are wondering how modern international shipping works, this article is for you.

The Process of International Shipping 

Shipping goods would typically require the seven steps below before reaching their desired destination. 

Export Haulage

The first step of the shipping process is to get the goods picked up from the manufacturer. The pickup will either be by a truck or train, which could take up to a few hours or a few days to reach the warehouse. If you are near, picking up your cargo could be free. 

Origin Handling

The next step is to handle the loading of the goods from the warehouse to their intended ship or flight. This is called Origin Handling, and there are many parties involved in this process. But ultimately, the responsibility is on the freight forwarder to ensure that everything goes smoothly until the item goes on the ship/plane.

Export Custom Clearance

Before goods are exported, they need to go through export custom clearance firsts, which typically the freight forwarder or the appointed house broker by the shipper does. 

Cargo needs to go through export custom clearance before leaving the country.

Air or Ocean Freight 

Your cargo will now go into a ship/airplane, depending on what your shipping service cosigned. And are finally moving from the origin country to the destination. Freight forwarders will typically have contracts with the container carriage. And freight charges are paid by the shipper.

Import Custom Clearance

Import custom clearance is submitting the clearance declaration and other essential documents to authorities. Import customs are not the same for every country and need to be completed before your cargo can leave the destination warehouse.

Destination Handling

This step covers all the procedures for cargo handling in the destination warehouse and includes cargo unloading and cargo preparation before it is collected. 

Import Haulage

The last step of your cargo’s journey is the Import Haulage. At this stage, your goods are already being delivered to your given address. Typically the shipper will assign a local transportation company to do this step.

The Players Involved in International Shipping 

Shipping your goods would be impossible if not for the entities below:

  • Importer – The importer is also called the buyer. And is the one who places an order for the purchase and identifies the goods they want to be delivered.
  • Exporter – The exporter is the seller and a good manufacturer. It is them whom the buyer placed an order.
  • Freight Forwarders – These people are responsible for organizing shipments to get the goods from the manufacturer. You can also call them forwarding agents.
  • Custom House Agent (CHA) – CHAs handle business transactions relating to the departure or entry of conveyance.
  • Shipping Company – The company carrying the cargo from the source to the desired destination
  • Custom – Custom authorities provide clearance for cargo to leave the source country and arrive at the destined country
  • Transport Providers – Transport providers are essential for any shipping process. Without them, no one will facilitate cargo movement in the warehouse and handle the unloading and loading process.


There are plenty of things going on behind the scenes of international shipment. But due to modern technology, the process has become easier to get your cargo from point A to point B. So share this article with your friends to let them know how international shipment works.