Eastern Europe Shipping Blog

Expert tips on smarter shipping between the U.S. and Eastern Europe, including shipping of heavy goods.

How to Get an Accurate Ocean Freight Shipping Quote

I.C.E. Transport | Aug 16, 2022 8:38:34 AM | ocean shipping


“I have 10 pallets of product to ship in a container from New Jersey to Poland. Can I get a freight quote fast? I can provide specific details later.”

Believe it or not, quote requests like this are not unusual. But to get an accurate ocean freight shipping quote in a timely manner, you'll want to provide freight forwarders accurate details – and as much as you have.


The downside of inaccurate ocean freight shipping quotes

ocean freight shipping quoteInaccurate shipping quotes can sting you in ways you may not anticipate:

  • Sellers can lose money if they agree to pricing terms with the buyer that assume a lower-than-actual freight cost.
  • Sellers can lose out on a purchase order if they quote the potential buyer higher than normal freight charges.
  • Cargo can get delayed.
  • If you’re comparing multiple quotes, you you'll get a mishmash of responses based on different assumptions.

One manufacturing company incorrectly reported the size and weight of cargo that it was shipping overseas. When more accurate details surfaced, the drayage carrier refused to pick up the freight and the load was delayed for weeks – all as a result of one missed detail.



Information needed for an accurate ocean shipping quote

The only way to avoid upcharges, delays, and penalties is to get an accurate ocean freight shipping quote right out-of-the-box. Here is what your freight forwarder will need.

  • Accurate data on WHAT you are shipping. Shipping rules and costs will be completely different for the same consumer electronics products with and without batteries…for raw wood cargo versus furniture made of wood…for food ingredients versus canned goods. Providing an accurate HS code lets the forwarder determine any special requirements and related costs to ship that specific commodity.
  • Accurate origin and destination information. This is easy for a port-to-port shipment quote. For international door-to-door shipping, provide the exact addresses of the pickup and drop off points.
  • Information on WHEN the product needs to move. Freight prices, like the price of most things, are a factor of supply and demand. If you need to ship from Asia to North America during the lead up to the Chinese New Year, your ocean shipping quote will be much higher than at a less busy shipping time.
  • Accurate product dimension and volume data. This data could have significant rate implications. For instance, it may help a forwarder decide between full container (FCL) and less than container (LCL) shipping.


Other charges to be aware of

An ocean freight shipping quote is likely to account for far more than the steamship line costs. It's actually a combination of multimodal costs incurred from door to door.

There are pre-carriage charges for landside moves prior to container delivery to the port. Things like possible packaging charges, trucking and/or rail costs and chassis usage.

There are carriage charges for the actual movement of the cargo from port to port. Common charges here include ocean freight charges and a Bunker Adjustment Factor to compensate steamship lines for fluctuating fuel rates.

There are on-carriage charges for landside moves after the container is discharged at destination. These may include cargo transloading and inland drayage charges for final delivery.

It's good to understand the various charges that you may see in a freight quote. Xeneta does a nice job of summarizing these many different charges in its Understanding Sea Freight Rates article.


Additional tips to remember when soliciting ocean shipping quotes

Rates change frequently in this volatile shipping market. Never use past quotes to estimate costs for your next shipment. And don't assume the quote you received three weeks ago is still valid. Check the validity date on the quote. Once that passes, freight forwarders consider the quote expired.

Know your incoterms. These are the trade selling terms that define who is responsible – buyer or seller – for freight costs, marine cargo insurance, and specific shipping related tasks. You don't want to pay for more than you need to, contractually


Garbage in, garbage out

Freight forwarders are very skilled at providing accurate ocean freight shipping quotes. It's a big part of what they do. But their recommendations and calculations are based on getting accurate data on what you are shipping, where, when, and how. If that information is wrong or incomplete, the quote will be meaningless.

A little work on your end to gather these details will ensure you get accurate freight quotes quickly to help you better manage your busy freight department.

Need a freight forwarder to help you manage all the details? Contact I.C.E. Transport and let’s talk.  

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