Shipping and Transport

Shipping and Transport in the context of facilitation of international trade deals with the organization, preparation, documentation, execution and reporting of the international movement of goods and conveyances. There are various reasons for moving goods, such as the purchase of products, supply of stocks for a production process, stocking shops, the replenishment of warehouses and distribution centres, or the movement of parts to a building site. Physical transport may be by road, rail, sea, air, inland waterways or pipelines and other fixed installations such as cable for the transport of electricity. The movement of goods can involve several modes of transport, for example pre-carriage to a seaport by a truck, main carriage to another continent by an ocean-going vessel, and on-carriage by rail.
Shipping and Transport involves activities of the SHIP part of the BUY-SHIP-PAY model of UN/CEFACT.

Parties involved

Organizing and executing the movement of goods can sometimes be very complex and involves a large number of parties or stakeholders (e.g. consignor, consignee, carrier, freight forwarder), who need to communicate and exchange relevant information among each other and fulfil contractual obligations as well as comply with official procedures and documentary requirements from a range of authorities including, but not limited to Customs, transport authorities and security agencies. Organization of the transport itself requires many actions between transport operators, such as booking cargo on a transport means, establishing a transport contract and documenting it in a waybill, making detailed shipping instructions, and organizing pre- and onward-carriage to the main maritime or air transport leg.


Challenges related to the international movement of goods that operators face in shipping and transport include:

  • finding qualified parties to arrange (part of) the transport at long distance,
  • deciding on the optimal transport route,
  • combining cargo to obtain more efficient and less costly transport,
  • tracing and tracking cargo whilst under transport,
  • timely communication of essential documentation and information, and
  • timely handling of Customs, transit and other regulatory procedures.

In Shipping and Transport, the following product-related regulations have to be complied with: chemical materials and safety; regulations for movements by a certain mode of transport and for storage of goods; documentary requirements; regulations for entering in, transit through or leaving a country; regulations about transport means used. These can stem from international conventions, or regional, national or local legislation. The main authorities involved are Customs, Port and Airport Authorities, Transport Authorities, Health and Agriculture Authorities.

Important trade facilitation issues are:

  • sending correct and timely pre-arrival information,
  • efficient border crossing,
  • efficient port and airport management,
  • correct and timely declarations of transport means and goods to Customs and other authorities,
  • timely release of goods,
  • effective monitoring of dangerous and obnoxious goods during transport and whilst stored, and
  • monitoring the security of the transport of goods and the transport means.

Implementation solutions

Solutions to the above issues are: adherence to international conventions from international authoritative bodies such as the World Customs Organization and International Transport Organizations; the introduction of harmonized and standardized documentary requirements; cross-border transit arrangements; use of modern Information Technology in the form of Port and Airport Community Systems and Shipping Portals; and logistics information systems that allow information exchange throughout the transport chain. Corridor management is a conceptual approach towards facilitating trade on a defined transport axis. It aims at addressing trade faciliation on this axsis in a comprehensive approach, brining in all the relevant stakeholders. Implementing trade facilitation recommendations brings major benefits, such as ensuring that information about goods being shipped and transported is sent in a timely and correct way to the responsible authorities, so that required procedures, validations, inspections and releases can be performed reliably and smoothly. This will benefit both the authorities in security monitoring of goods in transport, and the traders in moving goods at predictable and low costs, thus increasing competitiveness.