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Shipping Bulk Cargo Internationally

January 29, 2024
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Understanding Bulk Cargo

The term “bulk cargo” is used to describe the movement and transportation of unpackaged, free-flowing items without containers. These can include both dry and liquid products like fertiliser, wheat, coal, and cement. Certain types of items need specific handling, storage, and transportation techniques since they are kept and safeguarded in their natural state on a vessel.

Items in bulk cargo might be categorised as liquid, dry, or free-flowing. They can be poured or dumped on tanker trucks, merchant ships or railway vehicles, depending on the classification. Break bulk cargo can be categorised as any cargo which is unsuitable for containerisation.

Different Types of Bulk Cargo

Bulk cargo comes in three varieties: break bulk, containerised bulk, and neo bulk.

Break Bulk

Break bulk shipping involves the transportation of over sized products like steel fabrications, large vessels or mining machinery for example – items that are too big to be containerised, requiring special handling and stowage techniques for each shipment.

Containerised Bulk

On the other hand, containerised bulk transports bulk commodities more efficiently by employing standardised units. Specifically made container units or flexible intermediate bulk containers (FIBCs) are used in this manner to hold loose, granular, or powdered materials. Adopting these standardised containers streamlines the shipping process and offers improved handling and protection for different bulk goods while they are in transit.

Neo Bulk

Neo bulk is the term used to describe the large-scale transportation of a variety of goods, such as grains, minerals, and other raw materials. The transporting of these commodities requires the use of bulk carrier vessels built to manage the large quantities involved in each shipment. Neo bulk shipping is an important component of global logistics because it makes it easier to transport commodities on a large scale linking global supply chains more efficiently.

Bulk Cargo Users

Businesses that ship large volumes of liquid, dry, or free-flowing goods around the world employ bulk freight. Among these noteworthy industries are:

  • Energy Industry: The energy sector ships natural gas and crude oil in bulk from producing locations to seaports or refineries.
  • Agriculture: Ships crops and animal feed in bulk from farms to seaports and processing centres.
  • Mining Industry: The mining sector transports minerals and ores from the mine site to seaports or processing centres using bulk freight.

Handling Bulk Cargo Shipment

Businesses, carriers, and port authorities must employ the correct handling  procedures while transporting bulk cargo to ensure a safe and effective delivery.

1. Identify the kind of bulk cargo.

Determining the precise kind of bulk cargo to be carried is crucial in order to choose the right facilities and equipment for the products’ handling, storage, and transportation.

2. Make a loading and unloading plan.

Bulk cargo loading and unloading requires a well-thought-out plan in order to guarantee a safe voyage with the lowest possible risk of loss and damage. To maintain stability during transport entails accurately calculating how and where to stow the products, the correct loading order and finally ensuring all items are correctly secured.

3. Document the shipment.

It is absolutely essential to the success of the shipment that all the required documentation is prepared correctly and on time. Bills of lading, commercial invoices, packing lists, Fumigation certificates, Product declarations, and Origin certificates are amongst just some of the documents required for customs clearance.

4. Choose the appropriate vessel type.

Bulk cargo can only be carried and transported by certain types of vessels. The ship needs to be the appropriate size and furnished with the required facilities and gear suitable for the cargo type being transported. 

5. Maintain good communication with everyone involved.

Good communication across all stakeholders will assist with achieving a seamless and successful bulk cargo transportation. Pre-shipping planning, incident reporting, and real-time shipment tracking and monitoring require ongoing coordination and communication between the shipper, carrier, port authorities, and cargo handlers.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Bulk Cargo Shipping

The following variables will affect the cost of shipping bulk cargo:


Bulk cargo shipping costs will increase the further the origin and destination ports are from one another. The main factors influencing this are the rising costs of fuel and transportation across longer distances.

Freight Class

The cargo’s density, value, and handling requirements establish its goods class. Because they are denser, have a lower value, and are more easily stackable, goods with a lower freight classification will ship for less money than goods with a higher freight class.

Size and Weight

Ultimately, a bulk cargo shipment’s cost will depend on its size and weight. Shipping charges are rated on a per m3 or 1000kgs basis, whichever is greater. 


Understanding your individual needs for international shipping is very important for your preparation, and budgeting. You need to employ the services of the best global logistics professionals to handle your shipping needs. Ensuring the safety and the success of your shipment is always a top priority, so contacting top-notch professionals to do the job for you is always your best option!


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