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International Shipping Challenges in 2021

Published by Chris Townsend

International Shipping Challenges in 2021

Because we do not live in a perfect world, we cannot expect our package to arrive at its destination on time, all the time.

International shipping is, of course, not without challenges.

When shipping overseas, there have always been difficulties. However, further concerns caused by the global pandemic arose in 2020 and 2021.

When it comes to the economic development of almost all sectors throughout the world, there is an air of instability.

With global interactions constrained due to travel bans, the shipping business has taken a huge hit. Add to it the shifting lockdown status of major cities in the majority of countries.

Another notable occurrence that sent shockwaves across the maritime sector was a grounded ship blocking the Suez Canal. Because the Suez Canal is an important route for cargo ships, the obstruction caused significant delays for about 369 ships. Until now, the shipping industry can still feel the effect of this blockage.

In this article, we'll look at the international shipping issues that have long plagued the business. We'll also discuss the issues that developed as a result of the events of 2021.

Limited Knowledge of International Shipping

Local shipping is simple enough to understand. Your belongings will be loaded into a truck. After a few days, it will arrive to its designated location.

International shipping is another story altogether. There are customs regulations, piles of paperwork, and transfer between carriers, among other things.

You should employ the services of a shipping company with significant experience. This way, you’re sure that your shipment arrives to its international location safely and securely.

It’s risky to go directly to a carrier without any prior or enough knowledge in regards to shipping.

Learn about shipping knowledge

Capacity Changes

Online orders have increased at an unforeseen rate due to the convenience of the COVID-19 pandemic. This put a major weight on the needs for freight capacity that must be addressed.

An increase in demand seems good for your business at first but the current freight capacity cannot keep up. Due to a lack of freight capacity, freight costs are increasing and shipments are encountering significant delays. It will have a negative influence on customer satisfaction as demand develops. It greatly affects how these shipping companies operate.

Because online shopping activities increasingly become a stronger industry each day, shippers must find a solution to their capacity problem.

With a fluctuating demand on freight capacity, shipping companies must keep current freight market supply and demand in mind in order to control carrier payments. An often-overlooked option to freight capacity issues is to use your carrier connections. You may make your goods as enticing to carriers as possible by becoming their “favorite” shipper.

Aside from your company's operations and location, the freight load itself should give carriers with an efficient and pleasant experience.

If you are a preferred shipper, carriers may prioritize your business above others.

Many distribution hubs would eventually stop accepting shipments due to insufficient capacity, leaving shippers with idle items. Not only does this increase detention and storage expenses, but it also complicates shipper-carrier relationships.

Shippers can solve these issues by exploring for other carriers and updating their shipping operations. Other transportation logistics strategies include using fewer carriers, consolidating items whenever possible, and purchasing from a single supplier. Shippers must also bundle their products as much as possible in order to cut expenses while maintaining enough vehicle coverage.

Risk of damage items during shipping

Damaged Items

Obviously, the risk that your items face while in transit are significantly stronger than what they experience while sitting at your company or home.

The possibility of being damaged, on the other hand, is greatly decreased when the right packing and crating plan is devised by an experienced shipping company.

However, despite you and your shipping company's best efforts, goods might be damaged during transit. You may arrange for cargo insurance, ideally through the firm that is organizing your shipment, to avoid having to incur the expense of repairing or replacing damaged belongings.

While it may seem unimportant at first, getting an insurance is one of the most essential things you will have to do for your shipment.

Harsh Environmental Conditions

Environmental conditions, in particular, corrosion and other internal damage that may be caused to electronics like computers by high humidity levels during ocean shipment. A rough sea during a cargo's journey may flood your container in seawater, resulting in severe damage.

The solution for this challenge falls with the carriers. Precautions like moisture-resistant packing, desiccants, and humidity indicator cards, on the other hand, can guarantee that sensitive objects are safeguarded. Waterproof containers are also a common way to combat the challenges of sea freight.

International shipping regulation

Restricted Items

International shipping laws and regulations are more complex than domestic shipping rules and regulations: there is a lot of customs paperwork to fill out and additional custom processes to follow.

Different countries' international shipping policies determine what may and cannot be sold within their borders. This might be an outright ban on some things or rules limiting the availability of particular commodities in order to protect a country's domestic interests. Duties and taxes in international shipping may be confusing, so be sure you have all of the appropriate country-specific documentation before exporting or importing items.

Another important thing when shipping risky products is knowing whether they are restricted or prohibited. Restricted products can be shipped into the country but it requires government permission, a lot of paperwork, or proof that you are licensed to handle such products. Prohibited products are items that you are absolutely not allowed to ship.

Improving security for cargo ships

Security Risks

Piracy is still a significant threat to cargo ships at sea. Historically, cargo maritime theft has been intimately associated with piracy at sea, particularly in Southeast Asia and West Africa.

Piracy-affected territories are taking precautions, enacting regulations, and improving security for cargo ships and other ships passing through the area. This resulted in a reduction in unlawful behavior.

However, it’s important to realize that piracy will always be a problem. Shipping firms should continue to have contingency measures in place in case a cargo ship on their roster is attacked by pirates. Maintaining a pirate risk management plan can assist to prevent financial losses and aid to reducing the number of threats at sea.

Aside from pirates, another security danger you'll encounter is a cyberattack. Because we are all migrating into the modern world through the use of modern technology, cyberattacks are among the top dangers in almost any company, particularly as the global supply chain has become more accessible and integrated digitally.

The marine domain and the energy industry have increasingly resorted to technology to boost output, decrease costs, and shorten delivery times. Because equipment has become more accessible to outside organizations as a result of technological developments, new dangers and vulnerabilities have emerged.

Although cargo ship computer systems are only operated within the company, they are subject to insider attacks such as human mistake or disgruntled staff with their own agendas. Outside hacks are still possible. Some of these hackers even have the ability to veer ships off-course via auto-pilot.

The ideal way to combat this is to have firewalls and other high-level protection on your system.

International shipping estimate

High Shipping Costs

Because of the unanticipated economic shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rising fuel and part prices, as well as weak market circumstances, may pose major problems for many worldwide shipping businesses.

Almost all industries' costs, including those that contribute significantly to the shipping industry, surge and drop.

Typically, shippers set aside around 10% of their shipping budget to cover unanticipated accessorials. These accessorials are fees for additional carrier services.

The events of 2021 have added to the shipper's costs in the form of port detention and storage fees, demurrage, and rescheduling charges. Most of these are due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the blockage of the Suez Canal.

Lack of Employees

Unfortunately, supply chains are suffering a shortage in manpower in addition to a lack of various resources.

In particular, there is an increasing demand for truck drivers and a limited supply in the transportation industry. One of the reasons is the fact that most people would rather consider leaving the country and getting a job overseas.

This scarcity exacerbates transportation issues since items cannot be moved between factories or to their final destination without drivers.

On-demand trucking, fortunately, is one answer to this problem. On-demand trucking, a relatively new idea, enabling shippers to identify available truck drivers with the correct space, in the right place, in real-time.

This is essential for reducing expenses and increasing the efficiency of your shipments. On-demand trucking benefits not only shippers, but the whole market.

Avoid overcrowding during shipping


Even though the Suez Canal was reopened after 6 days, the repercussions may still be felt across the maritime sector. While the canal was closed, around 369 ships faced delayed arrivals, affecting terminal, warehouse, and transportation activities.

As a result, cargo ships were severely delayed, and they are still recuperating.

Even before the obstruction, ports were dealing with lengthy congestion and widespread labor shortages as a result of the pandemic, so the blockage simply exacerbated the situation.

Shippers must respond quickly on warning signals of delays and reroute freight to overcome congestion situations like these. Shippers and carriers can avoid some of the large expenses involved with storage and re-routing by proactively changing schedules.


Almost every day, the shipping business faces a slew of challenges.

The easiest approach to deal with this is to be attentive and take countermeasures even before the challenges become problems.

You'll be relieved to hear that Three Movers has put safeguards in place that will make your overseas shipment safe and secure, if not trouble-free.

Call us at (888) 202-0036 and we'll start your international shipping process!

Overseas shipment safe and secure

international shipping challenges

Chris Townsend is a moving professional and relocation expert that has more than 10 years of experience in the moving industry. With a background that includes working in virtually every aspect of the company, he has distinguished himself as an integral part of our operations with expertise in all things related to moving. Chris has a keen eye for detail and brings intelligence and passion to every project he’s involved with.

While getting his degree in communications from Santa Clara University, Chris started out with the company working in the field as part of our team of professional moving associates. Following graduation, he was promoted to our main office, where he has thrived in a role that involves increasing responsibility and requires him to wear many different hats. Some days, you may find him answering the phone and providing moving estimates, others he may be writing for our moving blog, and another day he may be coordinating a large corporate moving job or helping us with our marketing efforts. Chris has authored many of our in-depth moving guides, as well as provided our clients with information and advice to handle the complexities of their upcoming moving plans. Simply put, there’s nothing he can’t do and we wouldn’t be where we are today without him.

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