Terms & Glossaries of Shipping and Trading


Transshipment is a distribution method whereby containers or cargo are transferred from one vessel to another to reach their final destination.

What is Transshipment?

Transshipment (also trans-shipment or transhipment) means the unloading of goods from one ship and its loading into another to complete a journey to a further destination, even when the cargo may have to remain ashore some time before its onward journey. It is often used to gain better vessel utilization and thereby economies of scale by consolidating cargo onto larger vessels while transiting in the direction of main trade routes.

Why does a transshipment occur?

A transshipment typically occurs when there is no direct shipping route to your destination, it needs to reach a hub and then continue to ship until arriving in destination. This is typically done to save money on shipping costs, but it leads to increased transit times to the final destination.

How does a transshipment lead to shipping delays?

Delays are absolutely common when shipping a container overseas using a transshipment route. Because of the nature of a transshipment, your container is unloaded and reloaded onto a different ship which takes additional time. Sometimes it can take up to a week for a port to completely unload an incoming ship, and up to another week to load it onto a new ship going to the final destination. These week long delays can be the result of port congestion, and they can sometimes turn into month long delays. This is why transshipments are only recommended if there are no direct shipping routes to your destination.

What is the difference between transit and transshipment?

1、Transit is the transport of goods through a territory where the goods remain on board the original means of transport; trans-shipment is the transport of goods through a territory where the goods are unloaded from one means of transport and loaded on to another.

2、In terms of cost, transshipment will be more economical than transit.

3、For transportation time, because transshipment needs to unload and reload container onto a different ship which takes additional time, it will take much longer than transit.

4、Damages or loss of container and cargo are also more likely occur in transshipment because of the loading and unloading of the container at the transshipment hub.