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  • What Regulations Do I Need to Comply With?
  • Why are freight rates so unstable?
  • What is the usual waiting time at the wharf in South African ports?
  • Why is my cargo delayed?
  • What the best incoterm for me out of China?
  • When can I expect my cargo to be delivered after arrival?
  • How do you handle shipments end to end?
  • When do I have to pay for shipping?
What Regulations Do I Need to Comply With?

Unfortunately, there is no universal answer to this. It is entirely dependent on the industry you are operating in. Each commodity being imported into South Africa, or exported out of South Africa, must comply with a variety of product-related regulations, as well as customs regulations. These regulations are governed in South Africa by the Customs and Excise – SARS. It is important to understand the regulations in detail to minimize any potential liability.

Why are freight rates so unstable?

Freight rates are affected by many various factors. These include:

  • fluctuations in the time of year you are shipping
  • fluctuations in fuel charges; and
  • changes in demand (for instance, rates can go up when shippers fight for limited space on cargo vessels).

Forwarders will often use different shipping lines and may propose different solutions based on the contracts they have in place with carriers. This will all affect the freight rates on offer in the market.

What is the usual waiting time at the wharf in South African ports?

Most transport companies offer 45 minutes’ free time at the wharf. Sometimes referred to as “Waiting Time” or “Demurrage”.

Ports offer booking slots and aim to process container and freight collections within this timeframe.

Having said this, depending on the demand, trucking companies can end up waiting for one, two or even three hours trying to collect cargo.

Often the additional charges associated with waiting, called demurrage, will be passed on to the importer. To find out more, speak to one of our experts.

Why is my cargo delayed?

Cargo can be delayed for many reasons. This is usually one of the more frustrating sides of international shipping. Some of the common reasons we see for delays are as follows:

  • Conflicting supplier and buyer timetables. Often, suppliers will provide an ambitious cargo ready date in order to secure an order with a buyer. If this date moves, shipping timelines will change accordingly.
  • Rolling of cargo. Sometimes cargo will ‘roll’ (i.e. will get moved to another ship). Shipping lines will accept an over demand of cargo and roll containers to the next ship to ensure they are running at capacity. With air freight, this can also be an issue. Airlines will accept cargo into the airport but can opt to roll your cargo if the goods do not fit comfortably with the other cargo or if the total weight exceeds the airline allowance. Once your cargo has been lodged at the airport or port there are limited options for moving on a different vessel or with a different carrier.
  • Congestion at transhipment point. Certain global ports are renowned for heavy congestion. Singapore and Port Klang are prime examples of ports that become over-congested in peak season. Congestion causes delays when cargo vessels are looking to dock and unload. If containers are not offloaded within their specified timeframe, connecting vessels can also be missed compounding the problem of congestion over many months.
  • Tight timeframes at transhipment points. Sometimes vessel schedules have only allowed a short period of time between connecting shipments. If one vessel arrives in a port in the morning, and the cut off for the connecting vessel is the same day in the afternoon, the schedule can be too tight to meet. When this happens, cargo will often have to wait a week in the transhipment port for the next connecting vessel. The good news is that there are no charges applicable at a transhipment port so no one is responsible for paying as such.
  • Customs hold on arrival. Customs can opt to hold cargo for an inspection or merely to review paperwork. It is, therefore, crucial you do as much as possible to ensure paperwork is accurate and submitted to your forwarder prior to arrival.
  • Quarantine on arrival. Goods can be held if they pose a biosecurity risk or if cargo needs to be inspected by Quarantine. In these circumstances, cargo can be directed to an approved quarantine facility under bond for inspection and potential treatment before release. The costs of this process will also have to be covered by the importer/exporter.
  • Delays at airport/port on collection. Just because your cargo has landed and the transport company has a slot for collection, it doesn’t mean that the port or airport will not be delayed. We have seen instances where our drivers arrive for a timeslot and have had to wait up to three hours before they are loaded. In this instance, demurrage charges will apply. We will work hard to mitigate the impact on your business but delays at a third-party site can be out of our control.
What the best incoterm for me out of China?

China is one of South Africa’s major trading partners.

When choosing an incoterm for delivery to or from China, you should aim to have as much control of your shipping (and costs!) as possible.

On this basis, we would always recommend comparing prices on EXW and FOB terms. It is likely, if you are new to shipping, that your supplier will recommend purchasing on CFR or DAP terms. When shipping on CFR or DAP terms your supplier may introduce additional profit into the freight aspect of the shipping or simply chose a routing or shipping option that is not best for you.

To avoid overpaying for your shipping you should always compare incoterm pricing which your forwarder will be more than happy to assist with.

When can I expect my cargo to be delivered after arrival?

The answer to this question varies on a case-by-case basis.

Timeframe for delivery will depend on if your goods are travelling by air or sea and, if travelling by sea, whether they are LCL or FCL Shipments.

Subject to custom or quarantine holds you should allow the following days after arrival for your cargo to be delivered:

  • LCL Shipments (3- 6 days after date of arrival) – With LCL shipments. goods need to be unpacked on arrival and goods segregated for collection.
  • FCL Shipments (2 days after arrival) – This allows enough time for containers to be unloaded off the vessel and made available for collection.
  • Air Shipments (1 day after date of arrival) – This allows enough time for airfreight to be offloaded at the airline and transferred to a cargo terminal operator ready for collection.

Please note, this is simply a guide and you should revert to your forwarder for exact ETAs.

How do you handle shipments end to end?

Depending on shipping terms, when an order is placed with your supplier, our local agent will make contact to arrange collection and export clearance.

We can then provide a shipping schedule to suit you, including:

  • Tracking your cargo throughout the duration of the shipment;
  • Pre-clearing before arrival;
  • Arranging collection from the port/airport; and
  • Booking the final delivery.
When do I have to pay for shipping?

As an importer or exporter, you should always be prepared to pay for shipping activity upfront.

Your forwarder will be required to pay the shipping line and airline directly within a similar timeframe and therefore will likely request payment to match.

Invoices are often divided between freight costs and customs charges. Your customs charges will need to be settled before your shipment can be released.



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