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What is Transhipment..??

What is Transhipment..??

This was one of the questions asked by a reader of this blog.. A basic but an important question..

Simply put, Transhipment = the act of off-loading a container from one ship and loading it onto another ship..

Why does cargo need to be transhipped..??

In any service operated by any line there are practical restrictions in terms of coverage of ports..

There is no shipping line that can cover all ports around the world on a single service and therefore the services are segregated into trade lanes..

Example : South Africa to South East Asia, South Africa to Europe, South Africa to USA, South East Asia to Far East, Far East to USA, USA to Europe etc..

Lets say there is a liner service that connects South Africa to Far East and this service calls Singapore, Hong Kong, Port Kelang as part of its port rotation from South Africa to Far East.. Lets call this vessel A..

Lets say that there is a shipment from Durban in South Africa to Manila in Philippines..

Since this vessel A does not call Manila as part of its rotation/service, the container(s) will need to be taken off at one of the ports that vessel A calls..

Lets assume that this port is Singapore.. These container(s) will be off-loaded at Singapore and then loaded onto another vessel that operates on a route that connects Singapore to Manila.. Lets call this vessel B..

What is transhipment

So the container that left Durban on vessel A will reach Manila on vessel B via transhipment at Singapore..
The bill of lading that the customer has been issued will show Vessel A, but the arrival notification that the consignee in Manila receives will show Vessel B as that is the final discharge vessel..

Most of the big lines like MSC, Maersk etc have services covering virtually all corners of the globe via transhipment connections from one port or the other..

These lines also have what is known as Transhipment Hubs which are the ports on their service routes that have transhipment connection options to other parts of the world..

Example : MSC’s transhipment hub for their service to Australia is Port Louis, Maersk’s transhipment hub for their service to Middle East is Salalah..

This transhipment concept truly connects the world and one is able to ship a container from anywhere to anywhere in the world..


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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. Dear hariesh,
    we received a telex release that asks to hand the goods over to x, but the cnne is Y. Can x ask to change the name of cnee Y

  2. Dear Sir,

    as a teacher I love your posts and use many of them in my class.
    One small remark. There are two school of thoughts on how to write transhipment. I belong to the school with two s’es: trans-shipment. Look at the word trans-port. it comes from the the Latin trans, meaning accross and portare meaning, to carry. So following this logic it must be trans-shipment, because tran-shipment has the prefix tran which doesn’t mean anything. But i muts admit that not everyone agrees with me; If you google both spellings, you will find, however, that the two s version is a bit more current.
    Keep up the good work,
    Joost from Belgium

  3. Dear Hariesh,

    Thank you for your great blog. Could you please have a look one below situation?

    We are sending products from Bangladesh to South Korea. Our vessel will go South Korea through Singapore. But Buyer opened L/C with transshipment is Not Allowed. I requested them but they are explaining he is doing business with this clause many years and there was no problem. In this situation, is it really okay to ship goods?

    • Hi Sarwar, this is a question you must put to your Bank.. If the buyer knows there is going to be T/S and still insists on showing this clause then the banks should get involved in the requirement of this clause..

  4. Dear Mr.Hariesh,
    I’m Ika from Malaysia, i have question about TRANNSHIPMENT.
    I,as exporter(Malaysia) & deliver goods to End Customer (Qatar).
    Cargo moved via Bonded truck from Pasir Gudang to Port Klang,connecting vessel to Colombo, Sri Lanka to final destination @ Hamad,Qatar.
    In Bill of Lading,can you give an opinion what is actual (place of receipt,port of loading, port of discharge & place of delivery)?

    • Hi Yenni, it would depend on the contract with the shipping line.. If the line did the movement from Pasir Gudang then they would show the Place of Receipt as Pasir Gudang.. But if you used your own customs bonded truck then they would not show Place of Receipt, only Port Klang as POL and Hamad as POD.. Transhipment port Colombo is not shown on the bill of lading in most cases..

  5. Dear Mr. Hariesh,
    Could your good self please advice :-
    A cargo of sawn timber shipped by conventional vessel from Myanmar to Malaysian port (transhipment hub), full quantity containerized and shipped to China (final destination), would still be considered Transhipment???

    Would a house BL issued directly to the Consignee in China suffice???
    Does the shipment undergo any changes to the status or nature of the cargo when the timber is containerized at the transhipment port???

    Your kind assistance would be highly appreciated.
    Thanking your good self in advance.
    Sincerely yours,

    • Hi Jayabalan, not sure what the exact question is..?? If the cargo is containerised and it is transhipped anywhere, it is not reworked unless there has been any damages to the container or any such exigencies..

  6. When the road journey breaks down due to accidental Or some other unavoidable reasons then it is also called the Transhipment…

  7. Hi Hariesh,
    if we know that a transhipment is absolutely going to take effect, should we mention the transhipment port on the BL?
    if we mention the transhipment port, should it be accompanied with the date and also vessel?

    • Hi Michael, it is not always possible for a shipping line to make a port call to every port as the volume that is being shipped to that port does not warrant a direct call.. Trust this assists..

  8. If Bhutanese products be unloaded at Bangladesh border point, then carried by Bangladeshi trucks to Chittagong Port in Bangladesh and then get shipped to any third country country, should be defined as Transhipment or Transit-in-Cargo? Appreciate your clarification in detail.

  9. ]ُDear Mr Hariesh
    what is the difference between direct transit and in indirect transit ? also about Empty container , the client back the empty cntr to final destination or pod area



  10. Hello,

    Thanks a lot for sharing valuable knowledge about shipping & freight.

    I have one query please solve it.
    What is self and non self filer ?

  11. You have rightly mentioned that the big shipping companies have been able to establish global network of shipping service through the use of transshipment hub ports connected by feeder services. The information given by you is very useful for the persons involved with the industry. Thanks

  12. Hello Hariesh,

    I would like to thank you for the wealth of knowledge that you are sharing in the freight industry.

    Freshmen and stalwarts alike need not look any further to gain valuable knowledge in the industry.

    Thanks for this blog.

    Kind Regards
    Victor-Cape Town


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