Shipping to and from the Netherlands

We know that you want to export or import a lot of products at the same time from or to the Netherlands. It might be as a manufacturer, selling your goods to a customer abroad; or as a small business owner, distributing and supplying products to companies.

Here you can find answers to the key questions you might have, as well as an introduction to shipping to, or from, the Netherlands

  • Logistics
  • Pricing & payment
  • Local solutions

Relevant shipping information

The Netherlands benefits from a great network of transportation modes and at Twill, our customers have access to our full range of haulage services. We use Ocean and Inland Transportation (via rail, road and barge) to get your container delivered as promised – and thanks to the strong transport infrastructure, we have short lead times and fast turnaround times. That means you as a customer can make use of a well-connected network which improves the delivery time of your products.

The APM 2 port is the largest port in Europe, located just outside Rotterdam and has a direct Rail and Barge connection to locations in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. You can find more information about Inland Transportation here.

Transit times for shipping to and from the Netherlands will be dependent on the locations you are shipping from or to – however, Rotterdam is the biggest port in Europe, which this mean the Netherlands holds a favourable position when it comes to transit times.

For example, Rotterdam is often the first Northern European port that vessels coming in from Asia stop at. With Asia to Northern Europe being one of the biggest and most important trade routes, we not only offer weekly departures, but also a fast transit from Shanghai to Rotterdam. In this case, the estimated transit time between the locations is 34 days and exporting from Rotterdam to Asia will take 28 days to deliver the container to Shanghai port.

As Twill is supercharged by industry leader Maersk, we have global coverage and can support you wherever your cargo is moving from or towards. This means we ensure that your cargo arrives on time.

Transit times will be affected each year by the holiday season. At this time, you will see a peak in containers coming into the Netherlands. This peak season counts especially for goods such as toys, garden furniture, winter tires and spring fashion. At these times it’s important to plan your shipments in advance wherever possible – read more on what you should do to transport your cargo on time before the holidays here.

At Twill we specialise in shipping your cargo from door to door, over land and sea. Our services do not automatically include insurance for your cargo – unless the laws in the country require it. In this case, insurance is not needed to ship to the Netherlands, but you should review whether this is something you should consider, based on the Incoterms® you have agreed with your supplier.

Depending on the Incoterms® chosen, the risk associated with your cargo moves at a specific point in the shipping process. For example, if you chose to work with the DAP (Delivered at Place) incoterm, then the seller bears all risk until the buyer receives the goods at their final destination. If you choose the FOB (Free On Board) incoterm, the risk moves to the buyer at the point it loads on the vessel at its origin destination.

You should always ensure you read the fine print to ensure insurance coverage meets your needs, as  policies vary based on commodities, routes and value.

If you’re shipping your cargo across the sea, you want to know that you are easily being compensated if your cargo is damaged or lost. This is why Twill offers Value Protect, giving you peace of mind that your cargo is protected during transportation with us. With our Value Protect added, it is easier and simpler to make claims when compared to traditional insurance – helping you avoid the many difficulties and annoyances that businesses face when trying to ship cargo while protecting it from risk and damage.

Customs clearance is required to facilitate the movement of cargo out and into countries. The customs clearance process can differ from country-to-country and from port-to-port. At Twill we understand the challenges this may cause. That’s why we can handle Customs House Brokerage (CHB) for you.

For a smooth clearance process for exports or imports, you have to take care of a few documents: the Commercial invoice, Packing list, Bill of Lading and a complete order form. If you book Customs Services with Twill, you can easily upload these documents to our platform once you have filled them out. From there, our customs service team can access them and take care of your customs clearance.

The most popular trade lanes are lanes from and to Asia – like China, Vietnam, Thailand, India. These countries represent big market shares and have the biggest vessels carrying the most containers globally. Other trades which are popular are lanes from the United States and Africa towards the Netherlands.

This means for you, as a customer, there are vessels frequently leaving and sailing on this corridor and many shipping services available which can strengthen the trade of your products.

Ports and Offices in the Netherlands

Pricing and payment

As a small or medium-sized company, you need to ensure that your operational costs do not exceed a certain level, especially when shipping your products. The cost of shipping containers to and from the Netherlands varies depending on where you want to ship to or from and the size of the container you need to move.

Freight costs do fluctuate, for some routes daily, but you normally find that the associated landside costs (inland and port charges) in the Netherlands tend to be more stable. Terminal Handling, Port Charges and Documentation should also be considered as part of your overall shipping costs, depending on the buying terms (Incoterms) you agree with your buyer or supplier. There are also costs involved with the processing of customs procedures for both shipping to and from The Netherlands.

Also, it depends of the mode of transport that you prefer. If you want to read more about transportation costs in the supply chain and their significance, you can find detailed information on our knowledge hub. To make it easy for you, we show you an easy overview online.

As well as container size and where you’re shipping to/from, costs can also fluctuate depending on the time of year. For example, there are several spikes when shipping from China, before the Chinese New Year holiday and in the weeks leading up to Golden Week holiday in October and some weeks after. Shipping from and towards the United States around Christmas also affects the overall shipment costs.

These fluctuations are due to a shift in demand and supply. Peak seasons mean that demand increases, supply gets tighter and as a result, shipping rates increase. On our knowledge hub we explain what this means for you and how you can ensure that your cargo gets delivered on time throughout these peak seasons.

With Twill, you’ve got the possibility to choose between two different pricing models, the monthly fixed rate as well as the instant price. When you make a booking, we give you a clear breakdown of what you’re getting as part of your cost – giving you transparency and ensuring there’s no surprises further along the shipping process. If you have other questions around shipment costs, please reach out to our customer service or sales department via our Contact page.

On average the cheapest time to ship from China to The Netherlands is a few weeks after the peak of Chinese New Year in April and May, which are generally the low-cost months. Following Golden Week in October rates remain higher, with orders required to arrive before Christmas. You generally will see a softening of rates in December, unless Chinese New Year falls particularly early in the following calendar year.

Local solutions

When shipping containers into the Netherlands you are required to provide specific documentation. This includes:

  • Commercial Invoice: This document shows the goods you are buying, full details of the seller and the associated value of the goods
  • Packing List: This gives a more detailed breakdown of the items inside your container, including the product, number of items and the packed dimensions and weights
  • Bill of Lading: This is a detailed document which you will receive from us. It is the transportation contract and important details on the shipment are included in it. It is a relevant part of the ocean freight and proof that the carrier has received the goods from the shipper in good condition.
  • Customs Clearance Documentation: Documentation to customs for their review & approval to clear your goods into the country.
  • Customs Tariff Numbers (HS Code): It is associated with the products you need to ship and indicates the Duty and VAT tariffs.

Overall, before buying cargo overseas, please make sure the goods can be commercially imported or exported. This can be checked with the customs authorities in advance.

Generally, before shipping your cargo, you need to have a VAT Identification number, starting with NL plus 9 Digits and a Customs “EORI” registration number. Both are mandatory to be able to customs clear cargo and smoothen the process of importing or exporting cargo.

Discover the most important documents when shipping here.

Entering the world of global trade and ocean shipping, means understanding your roles and responsibilities in importing or exporting goods – and that requires an understanding of Incoterms.

Incoterms are rules – set by the International Chamber of Commerce – that define the terms of trade for the sale of goods all around the world. They lay out the seller’s and buyer’s obligations as part of a contract. If you are shipping your cargo across the world, you must understand how Incoterms can vary.

Each Incoterm option plays a factor in the overall cost of the goods and who is responsible for what part of the shipping journey costs.

For example, if you chose to work with DAP (Delivered at Place) terms, then the seller would be responsible for the full costs of shipping. Costs would normally be added within the invoice for the goods the buyer is purchasing.

If parties agree on FOB (Free On Board) terms, the Buyer can control when and who they ship with, taking on the associated costs of shipping from the origin port. The seller would take on the costs and responsibility of having the container trucked to port and laden on board the vessel chosen by the buyer.

Please be aware that Incoterms also affect the liability. The C-Terms (CIF, CFR) are also called 2-point-clauses because here the transition of the risk and the transition of the prices differ.

Find out more about Incoterms®.

When you ship goods across the world, you’ll be dealing with a lot of paperwork. While you don’t want to forget any of those documents (no matter how numerous or tedious they may be), there’s one you definitely want to become familiar with: the Bill of Lading. Typically abbreviated as B/L, BoL or OBL (original Bill of Lading), a Bill of Lading is a legal transport document issued by a carrier to a shipper. It plays three different roles:

  1. Evidence of contract of carriage with details of the amount, type, and destination (and even sometimes the condition) of the shipped freight.
  2. A receipt that the goods have been properly loaded onto the transporting vessel.
  3. Title of goods which often requires the carrier to turn over the goods to the consignee (receiving party) noted on the BoL.

To release your container, we need the full set of Original Bill of Ladings with your company stamp and a signature on the back of each document in our office in Rotterdam.  During COVID-19, we propose to use the “Sea Waybill” as a shipping document as this will reduce paperwork and courier costs for you and your business. It is a detailed document which you will receive from us. This is proof that there is a contract between you and your partner (buyer or seller) and that we as Twill by Maersk are responsible for arranging the shipping from A to B. It is handed out as a cargo receipt, is not negotiable and cannot be assigned to any third party.

The Letter of Credit (L/C) is a tool which is used, for instance, with a new business relationship. There might not be too much trust involved to receive the payment or the ordered articles. For further information, please find more on the L/C below.

Let’s assume that you are an importer, buying products abroad. You have no experience with the chosen supplier and as a result, there is no trust yet if you really get the ordered articles. The same goes if you are an exporter, you might not be clear if you will receive the payment for the products.

If this is not the first time you have ship goods, you may have been told by your bank that the documents submitted do not match the requirements of the Letter of Credit (L/C) and some of the documentation may need to be redone.

The Letter of Credit has five functions that help you out:

  • Guarantee
  • Credit
  • Proved document
  • Secure payment
  • Funding/financing

A Letter of Credit seems to be a popular method of payment transaction among sellers and buyers because these transactions are made via a bank. This offers a level of comfort for both the buyer and the seller. Because of the time it takes for the shipped cargo from foreign ports to reach their destination, importers have to find a way of guaranteeing payment to exporters before the goods are received.

We highly recommend never to use a revocable Letter of Credit. You can find more detailed information in the UCP (Uniform Customs and Practice for Documentary Credits).

Yes, you are able to submit the L/C-text with the shipping instructions. This can be done manually as well as “copy-paste”. You just have to be aware of the fact that an Original Bill of Lading is required.

Please check “Do I need an Original Bill of Lading?” for any further information.

We have gathered all steps relevant to start the Letter of Credit (L/C) process:

  • Step 1: Sales contract between you and your business partner
  • Step 2: Open the L/C-order at your bank / financial institute
  • Step 3: Your Bank opens the L/C and will inform the bank of your business partner overseas
  • Step 4: Your business partner receives the information from his bank or financial institute that a L/C is opened
  • Step 5: You or your business partner arrange the transport to the port of loading – this can be done via Twill
  • Step 6: Issuing of the original Bill of Lading that includes the L/C-text
  • Step 7: Your business partner sends the set of documents to his bank (within the deadline) that will proof the documents
  • Step 8: Everything is fine and your business partner receives the payment from his bank or financial institute
  • Step 9: The bank or financial institute sends the documents to your bank or financial institute and charges their account
  • Step 10: Your bank or financial institute will charge your account
  • Step 11: You send in the documents to our office in Rotterdam to release the cargo from Port of Discharge

Discover our services

Value Protect

Even in the safest hands, accidents happen. If you’re shipping your cargo across the sea, you want to know that you won’t lose money if your cargo is damaged or lost. This is why Twill offers Value Protect, giving you peace of mind that your cargo is protected during transportation with us.

Monthly Fixed Rates

At Twill, we understand how important it is for you to have control over your freight shipping process. With our monthly fixed rates, we’re the first to give you quick and easy visibility of costs and the flexibility to plan your ocean freight in advance!

Inland Transportation

Your cargo’s journey never begins or ends at the port. When you’re shipping cargo, you want to get it transported from origin to destination. That’s why Twill offers Inland Transportation, enabling end-to-end shipping solutions to ensure your supply chain runs smoothly and without complications.

Customs House Brokerage

The customs clearance process can differ from country-to-country and from port-to-port. At Twill we realise the need to get your goods through customs and understand the challenges it may cause. That’s why we can handle Customs House Brokerage for you.

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