Transshipment usually occurs when there is no direct trade route between the export and the import location. Read this blog to find out all about transshipment, major hubs, and how you can track your containers easily. 

Around 90% of world trade is carried out via the ocean. For thousands of years, ocean shipping has been the most effective method to move large amounts of goods  across the globe. 

However, not all ports around the globe are directly connected. This is where transshipments help the shipping business. It is also relatively cheaper to send your cargo through transshipment than directly sending it to the destination port. We’ll learn about the concept further in the blog post 

But another way to reduce the shipping cost for your business is to lease containers at the best rates. If you struggle to find containers at low pick-up charges, we’ve got the perfect solution for you. At Container xChange – a leading online marketplace to buy, sell or lease containers, we’ve got all types of SOCs available at completely negotiable rates. 

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What is transshipment? 

Transshipment (also known as trans-shipment or transhipment) means unloading cargo from one vessel and loading them into another to complete a journey to the final destination. 

During transshipment, the containers are unloaded at the site, reloaded onto a different vessel, and transported to the endpoint. The intermediate location or the point of shipment transfer is known as the transshipment hub.

Take a look at the chart below to further understand the transshipment process.


Transshipment example

An excellent example of a transshipment would be the transportation from Durban in South Africa to Manila in the Philippines because there is no direct connection between the two ports. Containers bound for Manila are transported on one vessel from South Africa to Singapore and then reloaded onto a second vessel from Singapore to Manila. 

In this case, Singapore would be the transshipment hub – a port that has connections to the origin and destination ports. We’ll discuss more of the major transshipment hubs later in the blog. But first, let’s understand why transshipments happen. 

What are the reasons for transshipments?

Transshipment is a very common process in the shipping industry. Here are a few reasons why they happen.

– No direct link between locations: One of the main reasons for transshipments is when there is no (or only an expensive) direct air, land, or sea link between the port of origin and the port of destination.

– Port of destination not available: Another reason why freight forwarders choose transshipments is when the port of destination is not available because of low tide or if the port is not able to accommodate mega vessels. In such a case, the containers are transferred to a smaller vessel to arrive at the destination port.

– Reduced costs: Irrespective of the port, direct shipping is usually costly. The transshipment option may take longer but ensures minimum transportation costs for freight forwarders.

– Intermodal transportation: Intermodal transportation is a combination of two or more modes of transportation in order to move cargo from one place to another place. Such instances also call for a transshipment. For example, you may have to transport a shipment by rail from point A to B and via sea from point B to C.

Now that you know the reasons for transshipments, let’s take a look at how transshipment is different from direct shipment. 

Difference between direct shipment and transshipment

Take a look at the table below to understand the difference between direct shipment and transshipment.

Direct shipment Transshipment
Meaning The container is shipped directly from one port to another through one vessel The container goes through a transfer of vessels at a transshipment port and is thus, shipped through two vessels
The number of ports Two: The port of origin and the port of destination Three: The port of origin, port of transshipment and port of destination
Cost Relatively more expensive Relatively cheaper
Time Comparatively shorter duration Comparatively longer duration and may be delayed

Transshipment vs transloading 

Being part of the shipping industry, you might also have heard the term transloading. Although it sounds similar to transshipment, there is a difference between the two.

Transshipment and transloading both refer to the transfer of goods from one form of transportation to another. However, transloading refers to the transfer of goods between different types of containers, while transshipment refers to the transfer of cargo from one ocean vessel to another while remaining in the same container.

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Top 5 busiest transshipment hubs in the world 

Now let’s look at some of the busiest and major transshipment hubs in the world. 

Port of Singapore

The Port of Singapore offers connections to over 600 other ports in 123 countries across the world. It has around 130,000 vessels calling at the port annually. It is also the world’s busiest transshipment port – transshipping around 20% of the world’s shipping containers. 

Port of Shanghai 

The Port of Shanghai is the busiest port in the world, and one of the busiest transshipment hubs. The port’s container throughput exceeded 47.3 million TEUs in 2022. 

The port is linked with the Yangtze River, reaching into multiple provinces of China. Thanks to the extensive access to Chinese seas and the rest of the world, the port has become an important transshipment hub. It is, undoubtedly, one of the most important Chinese gateways for foreign trade.

Port of Shenzhen 

The Port of Shenzhen is a collective term used to refer to a series of ports located on the coastline of Shenzhen the region in China, including the ports of Yantian, Chiwan, Dachan Bay, and Shekou.

Thanks to technological developments in the area, many tech firms, including Huawei, Tencent, and SenseTime, have established their headquarters in Shenzhen. Shenzhen is now a leading global technology hub and is often referred to as China’s Silicon Valley. As a result, the Port of Shenzhen remains busy and handles large amounts of cargo. 

Port of Busan

Located in South Korea, the Port of Busan is also a major transshipment hub. Busan’s feeder vessel network has enabled it to connect to ports in Russia, China and Japan, and its transshipment incentives enable it to attract larger volumes of cargo. The Port of Busan is also amongst the top busiest ports in the world. 

Port of Hong Kong 

In the 1990s, the Port of Hong Kong was the strongest and most effective in southern China. But given the rise of China and other surrounding ports in recent years, Hong Kong has since slipped. However, it remains an important transshipment port and has extensive facilities for repairing, maintaining and dry-docking all types of ships.


How to track transshipments? 

Let’s suppose your company has sent shipments through all ports that we’ve discussed above. A major concern for you now would be to keep track of all these shipments and make sure they reach their destination port in time.

Another thing you need to pay attention to is the delays that usually occur during transshipments. Delays can occur due to any of the following reasons

  • If one of the ships is late for the terminal
  • Terminal services are ineffective and are engaged in unloading / loading longer than planned
  • There’s a delay at the point of departure, which in turn causes delays at the transshipment hub and ultimately results in shipment not being made to a subsequent vessel.

Transshipment delays can affect your business negatively. For starters, these delays lower your asset turnover. Moreover, delays lead to dissatisfaction among your customers.

While the reasons for transshipment delays may not be in your hands, one thing you can do is give timely updates to your customers about their cargo. Doing so will build their trust in your business. Plus, if you inform your customers about a delay in advance, they’ll be more understanding. As compared to informing them last minute.

One way to keep track of your containers is by going to the carrier’s website and entering your Bill of Lading (BOL) number. However, this way you’ll have to manually track all your containers and you can’t store your container information on the website. This process then turns extremely time-consuming and repetitive. 

A better way to track your containers is through the xChange tracking tool. Read on to find out how you can get automated and real-time updates on your container movements with xChange.

Track your containers in real-time with Container xChange

At Container xChange, we help you in tracking your containers and give you automated real-time updates. Regardless of whether you’ve secured your containers through xChange. This means you can track all containers in your inventory, including the ones you’re using on the xChange platform and outside of it.

Container number

Through the xChange tracking tool, you can get a global overview of your entire fleet – with the ability to drill down into specific container numbers, locations, partners or contracts. The tool makes it easier for you to share ETAs, port delay warnings or rollovers within your company and with your customers.

On our platform, you don’t have to type in your container number again and again. We’ll store the number for you and give you information on:

  • Pick-up reminders
  • Container ETAs
  • Return schedules
  • Delay warnings
  • Route changes
  • Container close to destination update

Apart from this, our container tracking system also stores all important shipping documents under one tool for easy access. This includes pick-up and drop-off references. 

The Container xChange tracking tool is all you need to keep track of all your shipments. Want to know more about how xChange Tracking can help you? Just click on the banner below and schedule a free demo with our experts who’ll be happy to answer all your questions! 


Transshipment: Common FAQs

What is transshipment?

Transshipment means the unloading of goods from one vessel and loading them into another to complete a journey to the final destination port.

What are the reasons for transshipment?

Some common reasons for transshipment are the lack of a direct link between locations, trade restrictions between countries, and reduced costs.

Which are the busiest transshipment hubs in the world?

Some of the busiest transshipment hubs are the Port of Shanghai, Port of Singapore, and Port of Shenzhen. These ports handle large amounts of transshipments and are also the busiest ports in the world.

What is Transshipment? Best guide to process [+how to track]
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What is Transshipment? Best guide to process [+how to track]
Transshipment is very common in the shipping industry. Read this blog to find out more and how you can track your containers easily.
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Container xChange
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