Last updated on 8th November 2023

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. 

All ports around the globe are not directly connected. This is where transshipments help the shipping business. It’s also a very cost-effective option as compared to direct shipments. Apart from using transshipments, you can also lease containers at best rates to reduce the shipping cost. 

If you’re looking for  containers at low pick-up charges, we’ve got the perfect solution for you. At Container xChange – the leading online marketplace to buy, sell or lease containers, you can lease containers for one-way moves at the most competitive rates. We’ve got 50,000+ containers available in 2,500+ locations around the world. To add to this, all of our 1500+ suppliers are vetted. 

Start your leasing journey today! All you’ve to do is fill in your container requirements in the public search below, browse through the offers from vetted suppliers, and choose the best leasing deals.

Find containers online

Please select a location.
Please select a location.

20 search results found in total. Interested or found the unit you need? Request more details about your deal for your company via email. No commitment.


    Interested in the deal?
    Submit the form below to receive all details via email - no commitment.

      Let us help you to find boxes under your request
      Submit the form below to make a custom search.

      What is transshipment? 

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

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

      Transshipment process

      The transshipment process involves several key steps in the shipment journey. Initially, the cargo is dispatched from its country of origin. Subsequently, it’s forwarded to a transshipment centre, acting as an intermediate hub. Upon reaching the transshipment centre, the cargo is then directed to its ultimate destination port. Once the cargo reaches the designated port of arrival, it marks the completion of the transshipment process. Take a look at the image below to get a better understanding of this process.

      Transshipment process

      Transshipment example

      An excellent example of this would be the transportation from Durban in South Africa to Manila in the Philippines because there is no direct route 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 ports 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 it happens.

      – No direct connection between ports: One of the main reasons for transshipment 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.

      – Challenges with large vessels: Another reason why freight forwarders choose this process 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.

      – Cost savings: Irrespective of the ports, 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. 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.

      – Political or legal restrictions: It may also be necessary to avoid legal or political restrictions on certain types of shipments. Hence, it’s used to bypass trade embargoes or other regulations that restrict direct shipments.

      Now that you know the reasons for trans shipment, let’s take a look at some of the busiest transshipment hubs.

      Top 5 busiest transshipment ports in the world 

      Here’s a list of some of the major ports for transshipment 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’s also the world’s busiest transshipment hub – 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 recorded a 3.6% YoY increase in container volumes from January to August of this year totalling 32.14 million TEU.

      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’s, 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 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 services 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 hub and has extensive facilities for repairing, maintaining and dry-docking all types of ships.

      Transshipment ports 

      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

      What is the difference between transshipment and 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.

      How to track transshipments? 

      Let’s suppose your company is shipping goods through all the ports that we discussed above. A major concern for you now would be to keep track of all these shipments and make sure they reach their destination on time.

      There are many ways you can keep track of your shipments. Let’s discuss them in more detail. 

      How to track transshipments

      Use a freight forwarder

      An efficient freight forwarder will handle everything related to your shipment. They’ll also keep track of all your shipments and inform you of any delays that might occur in the process.

      Freight forwarders are uniquely positioned as middlemen between carriers and shippers. They share a good working relationship with both parties. But to streamline shipments in this dynamic industry, they’re always looking to procure containers. 

      Our platform provides a safe space for such shipping companies to connect with each other to transact containers. We also ensure that all payments made through the platform are secure. All companies have a public profile where you can see their ratings and customer reviews so you can choose the right partner  for your business.

      Browse through vetted container and slot sourcing companies here and connect with 1,500+ vetted companies across the globe.

      Maintain proper documentation

      It’s important to maintain proper documentation throughout the trans shipment process to enable effective tracking. Some of the important documents you need to keep handy are the Bill of Lading, customs documents, and various paperwork relevant to the shipment. By keeping proper documentation, it becomes easier to monitor the progress, location, and status of your shipments.

      Track through carrier’s website

      Another way to track 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 becomes extremely time-consuming and repetitive when you send multiple shipments. 

      Electronic automatic tracking 

      Electronic or e-tracking systems can be used to monitor the movement of containers and provide real-time updates on their location and status. It’s one of the most effective options for tracking as you get automatic updates on your shipments. 

      And one of the best tools to track your containers is through the xChange tracking tool. Read on to find out more. 

      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.

      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 container 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!

      Big banner for demo

      Transshipment: Common FAQs

      What is transshipment?

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

      What are the reasons for transshipment?

      Some common reasons for trans-shipment 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.