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Ocean and Air Shipping from Netherlands to South Africa

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Imports from the Netherlands to South Africa were valued at $1.15bn in 2018. Machinery, boilers, plastics, and organic chemicals were among the top products being imported.

If your business is planning to use trade lanes to export from the Netherlands to South Africa anytime soon, this is a good page to read. Among other useful bits of shipping information, you’ll discover the difference between LCL and FCL ocean shipping and details about ports and airports in both countries.


Know Your Options for Shipping From Netherlands to South Africa

Ocean and air freight are the two most viable ways of importing from the Netherlands to South Africa. We’ll go into detail about both forms of shipping below.


Ocean Freight From the Netherlands to South Africa

Less than Container Load (LCL): Your freight will share a container with other goods if you choose LCL shipping. It means you only pay for the space your goods use, and it’s often the least expensive way to ship smaller quantities of goods in a container from the Netherlands to South Africa.

Full Container Load (FCL): With FCL ocean freight, you pay for the use and transportation of a shipping container from the Netherlands to South Africa. The container is dedicated to your shipment, and your goods will not be combined with those of other shippers. It’s often quicker than LCL shipping and is less costly for exporting large consignments.


Air Freight from the Netherlands to South Africa

For the fastest (and most expensive) way to transport goods to South Africa from the Netherlands, choose an air-freight carrier. Direct flights operate from Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport to Cape Town and Johannesburg.


How Much Does it Cost to Ship From the Netherlands to South Africa?

Several factors must be taken into account for a freight forwarder to calculate prices for ocean and air shipping from the Netherlands to South Africa. These include:

  • The type, weight, and dimensions of the goods being shipped
  • Whether they are to be shipped by air or LCL/FCL ocean shipping
  • How far the goods need to be transported
  • If a Port-to-Port, Port-to-Door, Door-To-Port or Door-to-Door delivery service is required

Unsure if air or ocean shipping is best for your consignment? You can always ask a freight forwarder to supply a quote for both. Usually, if your consignment weighs more than 100 kg it will be less costly to ship your goods as ocean freight. Should your load be lighter than 100 kg, you’ll probably discover the air and ocean freight quotes you receive are similarly priced, making the speed of air freight worth considering, even if it’s not an essential for your business.

Most freight forwarders won’t quote for goods weighing less than 35kg, so you should approach international couriers to get a price.


How Long Does it Take to Ship From the Netherlands to South Africa?

Hourglass and a calendar to represent the transit time of shipments with Shipa Freight

Air freight is by far the quickest way of importing from the Netherlands to South Africa. Generally, you should expect a shipment to take five days. That includes all essential processes and procedures, plus flight time.

Shipping a container from the Netherlands to South Africa is a slower process for which you should allow several weeks. It’s a 13,500 km journey from Rotterdam to Cape Town by sea, and container ships only move at an average speed of 35 kilometers per hour. That’s a snail’s pace compared with the average speed of 900 kilometers per hour for aircraft.


How Long Does It Take to Ship by Sea From the Netherlands to South Africa?

Many ocean freight shipments to South Africa from the Netherlands will originate from the Port of Rotterdam. It’s one of the biggest and busiest ports in the world. Shipments will take several weeks to reach their destination in South Africa. For example, it typically takes 25 to 45 days for an LCL shipment to reach Cape Town from Rotterdam. An FCL shipment between the same ports usually takes between 25 to 36 days.


How Long Does It Take to Ship Air Cargo From the Netherlands to South Africa?

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport is likely to be the starting point for air freight shipments from the Netherlands to South Africa. Direct flights operate to Johannesburg and Cape Town. Shipments to those airports can be completed in five days. Indirect shipments to South Africa’s other international airports typically take five to eight days.


Customs Clearance in the Netherlands and South Africa

Every export from the Netherlands to South Africa is subject to customs clearance procedures. To reduce the risk of the process causing delays to your shipment, it’s a good idea to hire a freight forwarder. These shipping experts will coordinate the customs clearance process for you, ensuring your consignment complies with all relevant national and international laws.

Even with the help of a forwarder though, some responsibilities will still fall upon your business. For example, you will need to provide several important pieces of documentation to assist with customs clearance. We’ve listed the documents below, and included examples of them on our handy documents list page.

  1. Commercial Invoice
  2. Packing List
  3. Certificate of Origin
  4. Letter of Credit or other payment terms (depends on the contract between the parties involved)
  5. Airway Bill for air freight or Bill of Lading for ocean freight (Shipa Freight provides these)

Other documents you may be required to submit include certificates, licenses, and permits. The specific requirements will depend on the nature of the goods you’re shipping. Your freight forwarder will advise.


Should You Choose Ocean Freight or Air Freight?


Ocean Freight

When you choose ocean shipping, a cargo vessel will transport your goods in a shipping container from the Netherlands to South Africa. Containers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most goods will ship inside a standard container that’s either 20 ft or 40 ft long. Cargo that requires specific conditions to be maintained during shipment and in port—such as refrigeration—can be accommodated in special containers

When transporting sea freight, you’ll need to choose between two modes of shipping—FCL and LCL. FCL gives you exclusive use of a container for your goods, while LCL requires your goods to share a container with products belonging to other shippers. Let’s look at both shipping options in more detail:


Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

LCL shipping could be your best option if:

  • Your consignment is a small one—14 CBM or less
  • Your goods are not required urgently in South Africa
  • Your freight can safely share a container with other goods
  • Air freight isn’t something you can consider

LCL is often the slowest mode of shipping. That’s usually down to the extra time required to consolidate goods from various shippers into the same container in the port of origin. This essential logistics step is repeated in reverse at the port of arrival when goods in the container are deconsolidated.

It could be worth avoiding LCL shipping if:

  • Your cargo is awkwardly-shaped, heavy, or comprises a lot of goods
  • Your goods are delicate, perishable, or extremely valuable
  • Frequent handling of your cargo could damage it
  • Your freight is needed in South Africa by a certain date

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

Shipping your consignment as FCL could work out best if:

  • You delivery deadline has to be met
  • Your goods are delicate, heavy, or make up a large shipment
  • Sharing a container is not an option
  • Your consignment takes up at least half the capacity of a standard 20ft container
  • You want to seal your container in the Netherlands and have it remain sealed until it reaches the recipient

Air Freight

Air shipping will almost certainly prove to be your best option if:

  • You want the fastest mode of international shipping
  • Cost is not a concern
  • Your cargo has a limited shelf-life and needs to be shipped quickly
  • Your consignment is valuable, requiring the protection offered by airport/airline security levels
  • You’re shipping a relatively small and light consignment—no more than three pallets

Ocean Cargo Port Guide


Cargo Port of Origin in the Netherlands


Rotterdam

Port Facts:

  • Europe’s biggest container port
  • Situated in the Rhine-Meuse-Scheldt delta
  • Connected to over 1,000 world ports
  • 22 container terminals are part of a massive 12,700-hectare site
  • Ideal port of origin for any supplier or manufacturer based in the the Low Countries

Owned By: Port of Rotterdam Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >14.8 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: NLRTM.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in South Africa


Coega

Port Facts:

  • Located on the east coast facing the Indian Ocean
  • Also known as the Port of Ngqura or Zangq
  • Situated 22 kilometers northeast of another major sea freight facility—Port Elizabeth
  • The port’s container terminal occupies a 60-hectare site
  • Development plans seek to increase the port’s annual capacity to 1.5 million TEUs

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >630,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAZBA.


East London

Port Facts:

  • Formerly called Port Rex
  • South Africa's last active river port
  • Located in East Cape Province on the banks of the Buffalo River

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >53,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAELS.


Durban

Port Facts:

  • Often referred to as Durban Harbor
  • The busiest port in South Africa
  • Ranks as the largest container facility in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Over 65% of South Africa’s container traffic is processed here
  • Visited by more than 4,500 commercial vessels annually

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.5 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZADUR.


Port Elizabeth

Port Facts:

  • Only 22 km from Port Ngqura
  • Container facility features three berths for cargo vessels
  • Storage facilities span over 22 hectares
  • More than three million tonnes of containerized goods were processed here in 2016

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >216,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAPLZ.


Cape Town

Port Facts:

  • South Africa’s second-biggest container port
  • Located in Table Bay along one of the world's busiest shipping trade lanes
  • The container terminal is located in the Ben Schoeman Dock
  • Handles more fresh fruit imports and exports than any other port in South Africa

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >888,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZACPT.


Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide


Airport of Origin in the Netherlands


Amsterdam Schiphol

Airport Facts:

  • More commonly known as Schiphol Airport
  • Ranks as the third-biggest cargo gateway in Europe
  • Situated nine kilometers southwest of Amsterdam
  • Serves 23 scheduled air cargo operators
  • Facilities include six runways and temperature-controlled facilities for flowers, plants, and food
  • Ideal airport of origin if your supply chain moves goods from anywhere in the Netherlands

South African Airports Served: Cape Town, Johannesburg.

Amsterdam to South Africa Cargo-Only Operators: Martinair, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Saudia Cargo.

IATA Code: AMS.


Airports of Arrival in South Africa


Port Elizabeth

Airport Facts:

  • Just four kilometers outside of Port Elizabeth’s central business district
  • Easy onward distribution by road or rail to any destination in Eastern Cape province
  • About 800 tonnes of air freight is handled here annually

Connected Airports in the Netherlands: None.

Netherlands to Port Elizabeth Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: PLZ.


Johannesburg

Airport Facts:

  • Africa’s busiest airport
  • Its official name is O. R. Tambo International Airport
  • Its two aprons for cargo aircraft are called Golf and Whiskey
  • In 2019, FedEx chose the airport as the base for its regular cargo-only flights from Africa

Connected Airports in the Netherlands: Amsterdam.

Netherlands to Johannesburg Cargo-Only Operators: Martinair, Singapore Airlines Cargo, Saudia Cargo.

IATA Code: JNB.


Cape Town

Airport Facts:

  • The second-busiest air facility in South Africa
  • The fourth-busiest airport in Africa
  • Situated 20 km outside of Cape Town
  • 24 airlines operate flights from here to nearly 100 destinations

Connected Airports in the Netherlands: Amsterdam.

Netherlands to Cape Town Cargo-Only Operators: BidAir Cargo.

IATA Code: CPT.


Durban

Airport Facts:

  • Located 35 km outside of the city of Durban
  • Also known as King Shaka International Airport
  • Ranks as the ninth-busiest airport in Africa
  • Features a 15,000 square meter air cargo terminal

Connected Airports in the Netherlands: None.

Netherlands to Durban Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: DUR.


Why Ship From the Netherlands to South Africa With Shipa Freight?

Shipa Freight takes a digital-first approach to international shipping. Operating at the forefront of freight forwarding, we make transporting freight from the Netherlands to South Africa easier and more accessible to all kinds of businesses. You can rely on us to get your goods to South Africa using the best ocean carriers or air freight companies.

Other benefits we bring to the process of shipping air or ocean freight from the Netherlands to South Africa include:

  • Quick quotes and easy comparisons
  • Online bookings and payments
  • We simplify your supply chain
  • No need to engage multiple shipping agencies
  • Always know the shipping paperwork your consignment requires
  • We’ll handle complex customs processes and procedures
  • Get 24/7 support from a friendly customer service team via phone, email, or online chat
  • Know that your consignment will always comply with shipping legislation

“With Shipa Freight, I could do everything from quotation to booking with just a click”.

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