The exporter can book shipping space with a carrier or carrier's agent directly or through a customs broker or forwarder. In practice, it is not uncommon for the exporter to select a carrier and shipping schedule and let the customs broker or forwarder book the space.
Choosing the Carrier
Unless the importer specifies a carrier, the exporter is free to choose a shipping company or airline which offers a competitive rate and can meet the latest date for shipment. Certain importing countries may prohibit the use of flag vessels of a hostile country and any vessels that would make a stopover in a hostile country en route to their territory.
Please see Seaports of the World. Some port names may be spelled differently, for example, Arkhangelsk in the Russian Federation may appear as Archangels.
The letters after the port names in Australia, Canada and the U.S.A. represent the state or province where the port is located (please see General References---Abbreviations - Provinces, States and Territories).
Checking the Ocean Shipping Schedules
In many countries, the ocean shipping schedules (both outbound and inbound) are published in a major newspaper. In countries where newspapers do not carry shipping schedules, the exporter may contact the carrier, customs broker or forwarder for shipping information. The information is also available from private publishers of shipping schedules.
Carrier - Voyage/Flight No.
The phrase "carrier - voyage/flight no." refers to the name of the carrier and its voyage number (in the case of ocean and land freight) or flight number (in the case of air freight).
In ocean freight, the name of a carrier usually is preceded by letters S/S, SS, S.S., M/V, MV or M.V.. The S/S, SS or S.S. stands for steamship, while M/V, MV or M.V. for merchant vessel. The term steamship is still widely used despite the fact that modern ships are not propelled by steam.
ETD (ETS) and ETA
When booking shipping space, the exporter should know the ETD (ETS) and ETA of the shipment.
The term ETD is the estimated or expected time of departure from the port or point of origin; it applies to all modes of transportation. ETD is shipment on or about.
The term ETS is the estimated or expected time of sailing from the port of origin; it applies to ocean freight. ETS is sailing on or about.
The term ETA is the estimated or expected time of arrival at the port or point of destination; it applies to all modes of transportation.
Stopover En Route to Destination
When booking a shipping space, it is important to verify whether the vessel will stopover in other port(s) to unload and load other cargoes en route to the destination. The stopover in certain ports, particularly congested ones, may extend far beyond the expected time.
Verbal Booking of Space and Dead Freight
In many countries, verbal booking of shipping space is accepted, except for dangerous goods. Sometimes, the space booked is not used and the carrier may levy a charge known as dead freight. The exporter must inform the customs broker or forwarder who booked the space on his/her behalf in advance if the space will not be used, so that other shippers may use the space and to avoid paying the dead freight charge.
When shipping dangerous goods, a written application for shipping space is required. If a shipping order is issued for dangerous goods, it does not mean that the goods will be accepted for loading on board the vessel. When they arrive at the designated customs delivery (closing) location, the goods, shipping order and Dangerous Goods Note are submitted to the ship's master for approval before customs clearance and loading.