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Ocean and Air Shipping from South Africa to India

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Bilateral trade between South Africa and India totaled $10 billion in 2016. Both nations are aiming to double that by 2021, so shipping lanes and air cargo flight paths between the two countries could be getting busier.

To help your business successfully export from South Africa to India, we’ve created this page.

Here you’ll find information about ocean and air shipping from South Africa to India, customs clearance, seaports, airports, and more.


What Are Your Options for Shipping From South Africa to India?

You can choose to ship your freight from South Africa to India using air or ocean transportation. Each method has pros and cons which will be outlined on this page.


Ocean Freight From South Africa to India

Less than Container Load (LCL): LCL shipping can be used for all kinds of shipments, particularly small consignments that aren’t urgent. Your cargo will share space in a container with goods from other exporters.

Full Container Load (FCL): FCL shipping requires you to pay for the use and transportation of a container exclusively for your freight. You can choose to completely or partially fill the container. FCL is often faster and sometimes less expensive than LCL.


Air Freight from South Africa to India

If you’re seeking the fastest way to ship freight from South Africa to India, choose air freight. Be aware though, that It’s usually the most expensive way to transport goods.


How Much Does it Cost to Ship Cargo From South Africa to India?

Calculator to represent the cost of Shipa Freight's quotes

For a freight forwarder to provide you with a quote for your shipment from South Africa to India, you will need to provide information enabling determination of:

  • The total distance your goods need to be transported
  • The kind of cargo that needs to be shipped
  • Whether ocean or air shipping is required
  • The size, weight, and volume of your consignment

For goods weighing over 100 kg, ocean freight is likely to be the most cost-effective, as air freight is expensive for heavier loads. If your consignment weighs between 35 kg and 100 kg, there will be little difference between the quotes you get for air and ocean shipping.

If you’re shipping a load that weighs under 35 kg, you need to contact an international courier, as consignments in this volume/weight bracket are not handled by freight forwarders.


How Long Does it Take to Ship Cargo From South Africa to India?

It’s over 10,700 km from Cape Town on South Africa’s west coast to Chennai on India’s east coast. So it should come as little surprise that transporting a shipping container from South Africa to India takes several weeks.

Air freight is considerably quicker, but you should still allow five to eight days when you ship goods for import from South Africa to India by air.


How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Sea From South Africa to India?

An ocean carrier will ship your container from South Africa to India using a route that goes up the east coast of Africa and across the Indian Ocean. Whether you choose FCL or LCL, shipping sea freight along this route will typically take several weeks.

For example, you should allow 20 to 30 days for LCL and 15 to 25 days for FCL consignments shipped from Durban to Visakhapatnam, Chennai, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Nhava Sheva. The same approximate transit times apply to exports from Cape Town to Chennai, Nhava Sheva, and Mumbai.


How Long Does It Take to Ship Cargo by Air From South Africa to India?

Air freight is the fastest way to import from South Africa to India. Five to eight days is likely to be the time required for the shipment. That includes all processing, customs clearance and other procedures, plus the flight time from South Africa to India. These transit times are typical for air freight shipped via the following routes:

  • Cape Town to Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, and Delhi
  • Durban to Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kolkata
  • Johannesburg to Ahmedabad and Bangalore

Customs Clearance in South Africa and India

When importing from South Africa to India, consignments must comply with customs rules and regulations in both countries. These rules are complex. So much so that many shippers prefer to leave the process in the experienced hands of a freight forwarder. It’s a move that could save your business hassle by preventing unnecessary delays and ensuring compliance with international shipping protocols.

Your forwarder will also request the completion of essential documentation to accompany your cargo. This will include:

  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)

  1. Bill of Lading for ocean freight or Airway Bill for air freight (Shipa Freight will provide this for you)

Your consignment may also require other forms to accompany it—perhaps a permit, a certificate, or a license. Should you wish to take a closer look at the documents we’ve listed above, you can do so on this documents list page we’ve compiled.


Should You Choose Ocean or Air Shipping From South Africa to India?


Ocean Freight

Both South Africa and India have plenty of major seaports. So if your goods aren’t urgently required in India, or your freight is too big or heavy to be flown, ocean shipping will be the way to go.

Your forwarder will coordinate the transit of your goods from port to port or door to door. Your sea freight will almost certainly ship inside a container aboard a cargo vessel.

Standard 20ft or 40ft containers are used for most ocean freight, although specialist containers are available for goods that require specific conditions to be maintained during transit (such as refrigeration or ventilation).

As well as a choice of container, you also get a choice of shipping mode with ocean freight. LCL shipping involves goods sharing a shipping container with freight from other shippers, while FCL gives you exclusive use of a container. The relative merits and demerits of each form of shipping are detailed below:


Considerations for LCL Freight Shipping

LCL could be the right option for your company if:

  • There is no rush for your goods to be in India
  • Your shipment comprises only a few pallets
  • You don’t need an entire container and only want to pay for the space you use
  • You’re happy for your goods to share a container with freight belonging to other shippers
  • Air freight is not an option

You might want to look for an alternative to LCL shipping if:

  • Your freight is perishable or high-value
  • Your goods risk being compromised if they are moved or handled too frequently
  • You don’t like the idea of having no control over the type of goods with which your freight will share a container

Considerations for FCL Freight Shipping

The advantages of choosing this form of ocean shipping are:

  • Your business can more accurately predict when your freight will arrive in India
  • You get exclusive use of a container, and there’s no requirement to fill it
  • You can seal your container before it departs South Africa and it will stay sealed until it reaches your recipient in India (unless customs officials intervene)

Air Freight

Air shipping could be the best choice for your cargo if it’s:

  • Urgently needed in India
  • A relatively small shipment—three to four pallets at most
  • High-value and needs the security levels provided by airlines and airport operators
  • Perishable, fragile, or both

Ocean Cargo Port Guide


Cargo Ports of Origin in South Africa


Durban

Port Facts:

  • South Africa’s busiest sea freight facility
  • Serves the country’s third-largest city
  • Over 65% of South Africa’s containerized cargo is processed here
  • More than 4,500 commercial vessels dock here every year

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >2.5 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZADUR.


Port Elizabeth

Port Facts:

  • Located in Algoa Bay
  • There are three berths for cargo vessels in the container terminal
  • Two new harbor cranes were delivered in April 2020
  • Close to three million tonnes of containerized freight was processed here in 2016

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >216,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAPLZ.


Coega

Port Facts:

  • Located 20 km northeast of Port Elizabeth in Nelson Mandela Bay
  • Alternative name is the Port of Ngqura
  • The port’s container terminal spans a 60-hectare site
  • Can handle 12,500-TEU cargo vessels
  • Ideal alternative to Port Elizabeth if your supply chain moves goods through Uitenhage or Grahamstown

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >630,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAZBA.


Cape Town

Port Facts:

  • Located in Table Bay along a busy shipping route
  • Boasts South Africa’s second-largest container terminal
  • 34 berths for cargo ships
  • One of the few ports in the world that can store over 10,000 tonnes of goods at -60 degrees centigrade

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >888,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZACPT.


East London

Port Facts:

  • Originally called Port Rex
  • Located in East Cape Province on the Buffalo River
  • Easy access for any supplier or manufacturer based in Gauteng or Free State
  • Infrastructure includes 12 berths for cargo vessels

Owned By: Transnet National Ports Authority.

Annual Container Volume: >53,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: ZAELS.


Cargo Ports of Arrival in India


Chennai

Port Facts:

  • Originally called the Port of Madras
  • Located on the east coast
  • Second-biggest sea freight facility in India
  • Largest port in the Bay of Bengal

Owned By: Chennai Port Trust, Ministry of Shipping.

Annual Container Volume: >15.7 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: INMAA.


Nhava Sheva

Port Facts:

  • Once a relief port for Mumbai, now the largest containerized goods hub in India
  • More than half of India’s container traffic is processed here
  • Accessed via Thane Creek in the Arabian Sea
  • Easy onward distribution of freight to Pune, Nashik, and other towns and cities in Maharashtra

Owned By: Government of India.

Annual Container Volume: >5 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: INNSA.


Pipavav

Port Facts:

  • A recent addition to India’s list of ports, having opened in 2002
  • A privately owned sea freight facility
  • Infrastructure includes two container vessel berths and eight quayside cranes
  • Ideal port of arrival for goods required by consignees in Surat and Rajkot in Gujarat, Northwest India

Owned By: A.P. Moller Maersk Group.

Annual Container Volume: >880,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: INPAV.


Visakhapatnam

Port Facts:

  • Once India’s largest seaport
  • Situated near the Malacca Straits on the east coast
  • Ideal port for consignees in Odisha, Telangana, or elsewhere in Eastern India

Owned By: Visakhapatnam Port Trust.

Annual Container Volume: >350,000 TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: INVTZ.


Mundra

Port Facts:

  • A world top-50 container port based in Northwest India
  • Facilities include four container terminals
  • Privately owned ocean cargo facility
  • Set a record in 2014 by becoming the first Indian port to handle over 100 million tonnes of cargo in a year

Owned By: Adani Group.

Annual Container Volume: >4 million TEUs.

UN/LOCODE: INMUN.


Other Destination Ports in India

In addition to the ports noted above, Shipa Freight also coordinates shipments from South Africa to the following Indian seaports:

  • Haldia
  • Cochin
  • Mormugao
  • Krishnapatnam
  • Hazira
  • Kattupalli
  • Kolkata
  • Tuticorin
  • Pipavav

Flying Your Freight: Airport Guide


Airports of Origin in South Africa


Johannesburg

Airport Facts:

  • Officially called O.R. Tambo International Airport
  • Located 23 kilometers northwest of Johannesburg in Kempton Park, Gauteng
  • Only 46 kilometers from the city of Pretoria
  • Africa’s busiest airport

India Airports Served: Chennai, Mumbai.

Johannesburg to India Cargo-Only Operators: Singapore Airlines Cargo.

IATA CODE: JNB.


Cape Town

Airport Facts:

  • The fourth-busiest airport in Africa
  • Second-busiest air freight hub in South Africa
  • About 20 km outside of central Cape Town
  • No direct rail access, but is linked to the N2 freeway

India Airports Served: None.

Cape Town to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA CODE: CPT.


Port Elizabeth

Airport Facts:

  • About three kilometers outside of Port Elizabeth
  • Originally called H.F. Verwoerd Airport
  • Ideal for supply chains that need to move goods from Eastern Cape province
  • Facilities include two runways and parking bays for 13 aircraft

India Airports Served: None.

Port Elizabeth to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: PLZ


Durban

Airport Facts:

  • Officially called King Shaka International Airport
  • Opened in 2010 and cost $900 million
  • Situated 35 km north of Durban city in La Mercy, KwaZulu-Natal
  • Ranks as Africa’s ninth-busiest airport
  • Infrastructure includes logistics warehouses in the Dube TradePort TradeZone Precinct

India Airports Served: None.

Durban to India Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: DUR


Airports of Arrival in India


Chennai

Airport Facts:

  • Located on India’s East Coast
  • The city of Chennai boasts a major seaport and international airport
  • Third biggest air freight hub in India
  • The airport’s taxiways are currently being extended
  • Facilities include a 42,000 square meter import cargo facility

Connected Airports in South Africa: Johannesburg.

South Africa to Chennai Cargo-Only Operators: Singapore Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: MAA.


Kolkata

Airport Facts:

  • Officially called Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport
  • India’s fifth-busiest airport
  • 17 kilometers from the city of Kolkata
  • Occupies a 664-hectare site

Connected Airports in South Africa: None.

South Africa to Kolkata Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: CCU.


Mumbai

Airport Facts:

  • Officially known as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport
  • Nearly one million tonnes of air freight is processed here annually
  • Parking bays for five freighter aircraft
  • Infrastructure includes storage for dangerous goods and radioactive cargo

Connected Airports in South Africa: Johannesburg.

South Africa to Mumbai Cargo-Only Operators: Singapore Airlines Cargo.

IATA Code: BOM.


Delhi

Airport Facts:

  • India’s busiest air freight facility
  • Official name is Indira Gandhi International Airport
  • Located in Palam, about 16 km from central New Delhi
  • Occupies a 2,000-hectare site
  • Road and rail routes to Jaipur, Agra, and other locations in Northern and Central India make onward distribution of cargo easy

Connected Airports in South Africa: None.

South Africa to Delhi Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: DEL.


Bangalore

Airport Facts:

  • Officially called Kempegowda International Airport
  • A major air facility in Southern India
  • Infrastructure includes two runways and three air freight terminals
  • Renowned for imports of electronics and automobile components

Connected Airports in South Africa: None.

South Africa to Bangalore Cargo-Only Operators: None.

IATA Code: BLR.


Other Arrival Airports in India

Shipa Freight also arranges shipments of consignments from South Africa to Coimbatore, Ahmedabad, Cochin, and Hyderabad International Airports in India.

Why Ship From South Africa to India With Shipa Freight?

Want an easy way to manage ocean and air shipments from South Africa to India? Choose Shipa Freight. As a modern freight forwarder, we take a refreshing, online-only approach to international shipping, making your supply chain so much easier to manage.

You can coordinate all your commercial shipping from our website. We give you total, real-time visibility of every stage of every shipment. Other benefits of trusting Shipa Freight when importing from South Africa to India include:

  • Access to the world’s top air and ocean cargo carriers
  • Payments by card or wire transfer
  • Quick quotes and easily compare them
  • Backing from Agility Logistics, a world-leading freight forwarding company
  • A friendly customer service team—available 24/7 whatever time zone you’re in
  • Freedom from the complexities of customs and compliance, as we manage that for you

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

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