What is estimated time of arrival? 

Estimated time of arrival, commonly known as ETA, is a frequently used term globally to denote the time of coming. In the shipping & logistics industry, it is used to forecast when the shipment will arrive at its final port of destination.

Carries give arrival estimates to the consignees to provide a rough idea of when the vessel will arrive at the final port and prepare the next steps accordingly. It happens that the container doesn’t arrive at ETA.

Estimated time of arrival (ETA) for a vessel, container, or package in transit can help the receiver track their shipment without having to call the shipment office. Simultaneously, the operational teams can use this data to optimize delivery schedules and improve predictability.

How to Calculate Estimated Time of Arrival

While calculating the ETAs, multiple factors are taken into consideration. These include:

  • Distance between origin and destination
  • The average speed of the vessel
  • Number of Port of Calls
  • Climate and weather conditions
  • Time required to refill the fuel
  • Port traffic and congestion
  • Unforeseen emergencies, among others.

Taking in the factors involved, you can calculate the estimated time of arrival by the formula:

Estimated time of departure + Estimated time in transit = Estimated time of arrival (ETA)

While providing ETAs, carriers need to estimate the time involved in processes accurately. Here, real-time visibility through API integration and smart technology helps in tracking the vessels and giving a precise time of arrival at the port for the vessel or container.


ETD can refer to two terms: Estimated time of departure and Estimated time of delivery.

The estimated time of departure (ETD) is the time at which the vessel is anticipated to depart from the origin port. Based on this, one can calculate the estimated time of arrival (ETA).

The estimated time of delivery (ETD), on the other hand, is the time when the shipment is expected to be delivered at the final destination i.e. the consignee’s address. ETD is rarely estimated, but planned according to the last-mile delivery operations.

Do note that the estimated time of arrival (ETA) refers to the final port of destination and not the consignee’s delivery address. Based on ETA, the estimated time of delivery is calculated.

Estimated time of departure (ETD) → Estimated time of arrival (ETA) → Estimated time of delivery (ETD) 

Estimated Time of Arrival v/s Actual Time of Arrival

As the name goes, the estimated time of arrival is the predicted time when the vessel is expected to arrive at the port. While, the actual time of arrival is the real time at which the vessel reaches the destination port.

Both of them can be the same or vary based on numerous factors.

Terms related to Estimated time of arrival 

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What is Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA)? | Definition from xChange
Estimated Time of Arrival or ETA is used to predict an approximate time when the shipment or vessel will arrive at the destination port.
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