How the global sea freight crisis affects the international moving industry

We are currently dealing with a global ocean freight crisis that also affects the costs of moving internationally. Container rates are ever-changing. This means that customers who move internationally receive higher quotes, or that the quote changes after a few months. We understand that this is very bothersome. Which is why we would like to tell you more about why exactly the rates are so unpredictable and what you can do to minimise costs.

Why are container prices changing?

We are currently dealing with a domino effect of global port congestion, particularly in the busier ports and bottlenecks. There is also a capacity shortage on ships. This is all a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Freight rates for ocean shipping continue to rise and unfortunately, this applies to every industry: including moving household goods. Furthermore, the lack of container space and increasing delays are also responsible for rising rates.

What does this mean for international removals?

Ocean freight rates are adjusted on a monthly basis. This means that quotes are no longer valid for as long as they were before. They are ‘indications’. The quotes are adjusted to the latest freight rates, which can be done before but also after accepting a quotation. If you are moving internationally, this can affect the final rate you have to pay. Did you accept a quote that you received in July, but the shipment is not scheduled until a month or two later? Then different rates apply and your quote must be updated using the new rates. 

Preferred moving dates are not always possible

It is not just rising freight rates that impact international removals. The lack of space on ships also influences this. It is possible that the desired departure date of the ship is no longer available. Consequently, shipping your belongings may not match your schedule. Due to a limited capacity, there may not be enough space for your shipment. As a result, your belongings may first have to go to a temporary storage facility, until space becomes available. Once again, at extra cost.

What can you do?

There is a way that you can lower the rates yourself. When your shipment takes up less space in a container, the rates you pay will decrease. To lower the rates, consider taking less with you and opt for groupage (sea freight sharing). At Windmill Forwarding, groupage is our speciality. You can also opt to store your goods for a longer period of time until rates decrease. However, there is no timeline for when rates will “normalise”. Additionally, there is the risk that storage rates will increase as availability becomes more limited. You also need to take insurance costs into account, as well as the possible condition of your belongings after long-term storage.

Expect the unexpected

We will do everything we possibly can to arrange your international move properly and on time. Unfortunately, we also have to consider the fact that shipping companies reserve the right to postpone containers with household goods to a later shipping date. Furthermore, they also have the right to cancel bookings completely when capacity has to be made available for another freight. We have no control over this. That is why we advise you, however difficult it may be, to take the unexpected into account. We recommend planning everything as early as possible and consider the possibility that your shipment might still be delayed by an additional three months. 

Wait for stability

It is, of course, possible to postpone your international move to a better time. We are dealing with a problem that occurs worldwide: the busy ports, the capacity shortage and the increasing consumer demand. This makes it impossible to determine when the issue will be resolved. There is currently some short term relief on the ground, however, experts predict that rising rates and the current shortages could continue for longer. When stability is established in the post-pandemic world, international relocations are also expected to be able to proceed more smoothly.

We are happy to help!

We can imagine that you would like to know what this means for you. If you have any questions, or if you need personal advice, please do not hesitate to contact our Windmill Forwarding team.

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