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Ocean Shipment Visibility & Customs Compliance: Challenges and Solutions

April 21, 2022

Although invisibility may be an appealing superpower, it is not a characteristic that a shipper would desire for its freight. Yet across the globe, aspects of the supply chain are primarily hidden despite significant advancements in technology. In April 2021, The Journal of Commerce reported that “the total value of the freight visibility market grew to nearly $300 million in 2020 in North America alone” and could “grow to $1 billion by 2024.” Halfway to that benchmark year, visibility has become increasingly valuable to the shipper and consumer, especially when it comes to ocean shipment visibility compliance. 

Understanding Ocean Freight Shipment Logistics

Ocean freight is the physical process of containerized cargo traveling across the sea on a cargo vessel. Shippers may have chosen ocean freight over air freight due to size, weight, prohibited contents, or financial reasons. Some items commonly moved via ocean cargo include raw materials, chemicals, vehicles, livestock, oil, and petroleum products. Shipping logistics for ocean freight require careful consideration since the items will typically be at sea for multiple weeks. These logistics ensure the container cooperates with customs compliance before it’s onboard.

What is Shipping Customs Compliance, and Why Does it Matter?

Customs compliance is complying with customs regulations to bring items from their country of origin to the land of destination. Whether an item is imported or exported, there are regulations, custom fees, inspections, and paperwork that present the opportunity for significant delays and disruption in the shipping process. By understanding the challenges in customs compliance, shipping companies can address them proactively for a smooth transportation process.

Challenge 1- Missing Paperwork

Without the correct forms on hand to give to customs officers, it may be difficult to get freight onto the cargo vessel in the first place. However, even a load stuck in limbo due to missing paperwork can be tracked with as few as three data field entries in an ocean container software

Challenge 2- Poor Documentation

Delays due to inaccurate paperwork that must be refilled and submitted can lead to rolled cargo if detained too long at loading or per diem charges from prolonged unloading. Ocean shipment visibility that utilizes a TMS integration can quickly and easily provide accurate details to amend paperwork quickly and easily.

Challenge 3- Illegal Materials and Goods

When shipping overseas, there are import and export regulations to consider that ensure the nation’s safety deemed by their safety commissioners. A quality container lookup software will provide exception management for customs compliance circumstances that delay a shipment from getting to its final destination.

Challenge 4- Inaccurate Reporting

Although the ambiguity of buying storage units blind appeals to many, this is not accurate for customs inspectors. A visibility solution with attentive customer care can help solve these issues before they start by troubleshooting with their shipping partners every step of the way. 

Challenge 5- Poor Packaging and Handling

When shipping globally, it’s essential to consider the care required to package each item to keep it safe and yet available during customs compliance inspections. A shipping company can maximize customer experience via visibility software that can host communications to ensure their freight is always ocean ready. 

Challenge 6- Driver and Truck Issues

The challenges of ocean shipment visibility compliance don’t end at the port if the next transportation partner has poor equipment and vehicle maintenance. Cargo-wise integrations provide end-to-end visibility and give shipping companies the leverage to get their freight contracted with a different carrier at the first sign of trouble.

Partner With OpenTrack Today for Ocean Shipment Visibility Compliance

The technology of ocean freight visibility will continue to grow over the next few years, yet there are incredible players in the game right now, saving the day from lost or delayed freight. Shipping companies who leverage visibility software experience a smoother customs compliance experience with accurate ETAS. To learn how this can change the dynamic of your global shipping process, book a demo with OpenTrack now.

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