Logistics Know How

A quick guide to sea freight

If you want to ship your freight around the world, you will probably ship it by sea freight. Here, we take a look at what sea freight is, how long it takes and when to use sea freight worldwide.

Anna-Sophia Metzel, 16 December 2021

The chances that the goods around you – and even your computer screen or smartphone from which you are reading this article – were transported by sea freight are high. Approximately 80% of the world’s goods are transported overseas. In 2020, around 11 billion tons of goods were transported via sea freight. This makes sea freight an important transportation mode for freight worldwide. Now you might wonder what it is exactly and how it works. So, here is our guide on sea freight:

What is the definition of sea freight?

Sea freight, also known as ocean freight, is a method of transporting large quantities of products via cargo ships. Goods are packed into containers, and these containers are loaded onto a vessel, where they will be sailed to their destination country.

As a general rule, shipments weighing more than 100kg – or consisting of multiple containers – will be sent by sea freight. A typical cargo ship can carry around 18,000 containers. It is a cost-efficient way to transport high quantities over large distances.

What is the transit time of sea freight?

The transit time of sea freight describes the time needed for a shipment to be delivered once it has been picked up from its point of departure. So, it shows the amount of time spent moving goods from one point to the other. The exact time is mostly measured in hours and days.

How long are the transit times of sea freight?

There are multiple factors to consider when measuring the transit time of sea freight.

Firstly, the time spent on water and the time shipments take from door-to-door are different due to transporting sea freight. When shipping sea freight worldwide, there are a lot of steps the goods have to go through before they reach the vessel and then once they leave it – for example, shipping documentation, Customs Clearance processes or loading and unloading goods.

Besides that, transit times for sea freight depend a lot on the origin and destination of the freight – because the geography of your goods matters and affect the transit times when shipping sea freight.

Overall, sea freight shipping can range anywhere from 20-45 days or even more. For instance, when busy seasons and unpredictable events in shipping occur, sea freight can take longer than initially expected.

For specific local information on transit times, please head over to our dedicated local container shipping information, where you can find concrete transit times for the most popular sea freight routes worldwide.

What are the benefits and disadvantages of shipping sea freight?

There are benefits and disadvantages when shipping sea freight. Here, we are listing some of them:


  • Cost-effective freight method compared to other methods (e.g. air freight)

  • Cheaper than other freight methods (e.g. air freight) over long distances

  • Most carbon-efficient solution


  • The transit time: Compared to air freight, sea freight takes more transit time, which means you have to wait longer for your goods to arrive when you ship them around the world.

  • When shipping smaller amounts of goods, the price is not sustainable.

Therefore, we recommend sea freight as an economic and environmental superior solution for transporting large quantities of goods. The same goes for a destination country far away from the origin. So especially, if you want to ship containers worldwide, sea freight is one of the best options for you.

How to ship sea freight worldwide?

Worldwide, there are multiple sea freight companies shipping sea freight. For example, Maersk, the world’s largest container-shipping company globally, is shipping sea freight worldwide. Twill is part of Maersk Group, and if you want to take your freight around the world, you can rely on us and our logistics services. We do offer not only sea freight but also inland transportation, Customs Clearance and other services.

You can sign up to our platform for free and discover schedules and prices within seconds. Get started now and explore your options to ship sea freight worldwide.

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