“Transshipments” occur when goods or containers are offloaded at an intermediate point or points between their origin and destination. They are then loaded onto a different ship or air plane to continue their journey.
For example, imagine you purchase an airplane ticket to fly from Brisbane to London via Singapore. You board the flight in Brisbane which takes you to Singapore airport and then you board another flight which takes you through to London. In the case of international shipments for goods and containers, this would be called a “transshipment”.


A “Direct” shipment means that the goods or containers are transported from the origin to the destination without being offloaded or discharged. It is important to note that a direct service does not mean that the transport will not make other stops along the way. For example, you might book a 20ft shipping container on a direct service from Los Angeles to Brisbane. The vessel might make stops at other ports such as Auckland or Melbourne along the way to load and discharge other contianers whilst your container remains on board. This is still called a direct service as the container loaded in Los Angeles is not removed from the vessel until it reaches the destination of Sydney.

Transshipment Vs. Direct

Transshipment services can be very beneficial to importers and exporters for a number of reasons. Often, they are used by shipping lines and NVOCC’s as a way of ‘hubbing’ cargo and containers to maximize their capacity and keep costs low. For example, in the case of LCL (less than container load) cargo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Busan and Port Kelang are some of the largest ‘hubs’ in the Asia-Pacific region. If you wanted to book a single pallet of cargo to go from Brisbane to Dublin in Ireland, it’s unlikely that there would be enough people or companies in Brisbane looking to do the same, at the same time as you, to be able fill a whole container. However, by transshipping cargo through one of these ‘hubs’, there is enough cargo which is accumulated from the other countries and ports in the Asia-Pacific region to then fill a container to be sent to Dublin.

When looking to book a shipment there is often a variety of options available for both direct and transshipment services, and so you will need to discuss with AussieFreight which type of service you are looking for.  Usually (but not always) direct services are faster but more expensive and so are useful if your shipment is time critical. Transshipment services are often cheaper but usually much slower than a Direct service due to the extra processes that take place in discharging and loading goods and containers, and so are a better choice for those concerned more about the budget than the transit time.

LCL freight forwarding service

Transshipment services are inherently riskier than direct services due to the extra handling of containers and goods that must occur at the transshipment points. They also have a higher risk of being delayed due to congestion or delays in transshipment. For example, in the Dublin example above, your cargo might be packed into a container which is scheduled to arrive in Singapore on the 5th of May, to then be loaded into another container in Singapore on 8th of May destined for Dublin. If that vessel from Brisbane is delayed even slightly (due to weather, congestion, mechanical issues or other reasons) the cargo may not be arrive in Singapore in time to catch the loading of the container going to Dublin. As these services are typically weekly, this delay might mean the cargo has to wait in Singapore until 15th May to be loaded in a contianer for Dublin. Ultimately this would mean the cargo arrives in Dublin 7 days later, and on a different vessel than was originally scheduled.


A special type of transshipment to note is called Transloading. “Transloading” occurs when the type of transport changes during transshipment. For example: A shipment from Malaysia to Sydney might travel via ship to Brisbane and then be ‘transloaded’ onto a train destined for Sydney. Transloading often occurs when goods or containers are transported through to an inland destination on one bill of lading, or where the destination or urgency for the freight changes mid-shipment.