Hi Tessa,

Hope all is well in Thailand?

Just a quickie, have you used sea freight and had to book your own forwarder? If so, please let me know your recommendation. I’m hunting around at the moment for options.


Using Sea Freight

Because we focus on smaller products that are easy to store and easy to ship, we mostly use carriers like DHL and FedEx to deliver our products from our suppliers in Asia. Every now and then though, we have been tempted by the lower costs quoted for sea mail. Sure it’s a lot slower, and a bit more difficult to track sometimes, but if it isn’t urgent, should the cost savings be worth it? Well, we thought we’d give it a go last year, and thanks to one of our readers asking about it, we thought we’d share the results.


First of all, the initial cost might be cheaper, but there’s a few tricks and traps to sea freight that you might not be aware of. First of all, you will need a freight forwarder to help you navigate customs when the shipment finally arrives in country. This is not often cheap, and can significantly add to your cost. But if you’re not on top of this well before your shipment arrives, you could find yourself being stung with a daily holding fee, which the port will charge you for every day that they have to store your shipment. This can add up very quickly! Here are a list of additional costs we incurred:

  • Local Port Charges
  • Customs Clearance Charge
  • Cargo Management Re-engineering
  • Owner/Supplier Code Fee
  • Delivery Order Handling and Collection Fee
  • Quarantine Lodgement fee
  • Delivery Fee (unless you pick it up yourself)
  • Fuel Surcharge

These fees alone more than doubled the cost of the actual shipping itself! It actually ended up costing the same as if we’d used DHL or FedEx, except it cost a lot more in terms of time (both waiting for the products and then dealing with them once they had arrived) and stress.

Sometimes You Have To

We understand though that if you are ordering bigger items, and lots of them (we’re talking container load here), then sea freight becomes a lot more cost effective. All we’d say is that you should get quotes from the express carriers first, then if you really want to compare “apples with apples” start talking to local freight forwarders to try to figure out exactly what your costs are going to be, and have them ready to go before your shipment is even sent.

 Well that’s our A to your Q  and we really hope that it helps. If you have a question jump over to our contact us page and email us!