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Difference between Carrier Haulage and Merchant Haulage

Difference between Carrier Haulage and Merchant Haulage

Although it has been covered briefly in one of my earlier posts about the Import Process, this post is an elaboration of the same..

Carrier haulage and Merchant haulage both are related to carriage of a container from Point A to Point B but the difference is in the responsibilities of this haulage..

Below is the explanation..

Carrier Haulage : Movement of the container from Point A to Point B under the control of the shipping line using a haulage contractor nominated by the shipping line..

In this case the consignee will pay for the same at the lines rate.. This also means that when a line accepts a Carrier Haulage move, they should also accept any claims or liabilities or damages that could arise during such a move, unless it can be proved that it was caused by improper packing of the cargo etc..

Difference between carrier and merchant haulage

Such move would generally be applicable when there is a multi modal transport involved – ex cargo moving from Antwerp to final destination Sandton (shown on bill of lading) via Durban/City Deep, where Antwerp is the Port of Load, Durban is the Port of Discharge and container is railed from Durban to City Deep (rail terminal in Johannesburg) and further carried by road to Sandton door..

Merchant Haulage : Movement of the container from Point A to Point B directly by the consignee using his nominated haulage contractor..

Difference between carrier and merchant haulage

In this case the consignee has the choice to negotiate his own rates for the same..

In this case, the line does not bear any liability for the move and if there are any damages, they can hold the merchant liable for such damages..

Comparing above delivery scenario, Merchant can arrange haulage either from Durban by road to Sandton door directly or take delivery of the container from City Deep and further move it to Sandton door by road..

Hariesh Manaadiar
Hariesh Manaadiar
I am Hariesh Manaadiar, the Founder of Shipping and Freight Resource.. I have been in the dynamic shipping and freight industry for over three decades and have worked in several sectors.. I share my experiences and knowledge of the industry through this blog for those looking for help in the industry.. Stay subscribed for more free useful content about shipping, freight, maritime, logistics, supply chain and trade..


  1. Thanks for the information shared. But I have once query regarding the multimodal shipment that we are having now. We have take D.O. from line for Sharjah Port, but when we received the same, we came to know that it will be sea shipment from JNPT to Sharjah. But when it reaches as Jebel ali, then line asked for Custom clearance at Jebel Ali & then only it will move to Sharjah. So is it possible to do Custom clearance at sharjah instead of Jebel Ali ? Please advice.

  2. Dear Mr Hariesh

    really i understand ur above article , but i have another scenario , if the client book the cntr from msc for example . can ask another line to move this cntr ( inland transport) , also i think all freight forworders , nvocc and movers are Merchant Haulage and shipping lines are Carrier Haulage , but can client depend on another line for inland transportation



    • Hello Valentina, if they use Agent Haulage it could mean either themselves as a shipping agent or you as a clearing agent.. As each country has its own terminology, it would be best to clarify with the line..

  3. If I track a shipment and movement says “Delivered by carrier haulage” does this mean that it’s reached it’s destination or just that the carrier picked up the container and can still be possibly awaiting delivery appointment?

    • Hi Anna “Delivered by Carrier Haulage” could mean that it has been delivered.. If you are checking the tracking on a shipping lines website, if you see Empty Gate In then it means that the cargo has been delivered and the container has been returned as empty.. That is proper delivery..

  4. Dear sir,

    I have passed through this article b’coz our company also importing pre – engineered building from US.

    So we have choosen Merchant Haulage Agreement for the shipment of our goods,

    Thanking you providing me best knowledge engine,

    Thanks & Regards,
    Dharmendra Gadaria
    Bharuch, Gujarat

    • Dear all,

      Thank you for the article, very useful.
      I have one question though: If the container/container will be transported from the terminal where they were offloaded, with truck/trucks carried aut by the consignee, but without leaving the free zone (not leaving the port area) is there any reason the line to ask for a MH fee ?

      Thanks in advance and best regards,
      Eugene V.


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