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International transportation

International transportation

International transportation is one of the main issues we face in international trade. There are numerous factors in international transportation affecting the type of transportation. The business needs of the destination country, the geographical features of the country of origin and destination, the distance between the seller and buyer, type of good, weight of goods, value of the goods, speed, security, and carriage costs are some of the factors affecting the choice we make concerning international transportation method. 

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In some transactions, the quick delivery of products by the carrier and forwarder is necessary to win customer satisfaction. Therefore, the selection of appropriate transportation methods makes it possible to make on-time delivery and prevents additional damages and costs. 

Types of international transportation methods in general are:

  • Air transportation 
  • Sea transportation
  • Road transportation 
  • Rail transportation 
  • Combined transportation

Air transportation is the quickest, and safest and, of course, the most expensive international transportation method that is generally used to deliver light (weight) and expensive goods within the shortest period of time. 

On the contrary, the sea transportation method is the slowest, most dangerous, and also cheapest transportation method. This method is used for bulky and heavy goods whose delivery time is of less importance. 

Carriage by pipes and canals is also one of the transportation methods that is used to transfer oil, gas, and some other materials. This method requires some particular infrastructures. 

In the following, different methods of international transportation will be explained. 

Transport of dangerous goods

All international vehicles carrying dangerous goods must pass some particular examinations and obtain a dangerous goods license. The list of dangerous goods varies from one country to another, and some goods may be considered to be dangerous over a particular period and be eliminated from the list after a certain period of time. 

Generally, the list of these goods are as follows: 

Explosives, corrosive materials, flammable materials, gases, oxidizing materials, radioactive materials, poisonous materials, and weapons. 

Air transportation

Air transportation is the most expensive and quickest form of transportation. This method is usually reserved for carrying expensive, light(weight), and small goods because of the great expenses of the method. This method is used particularly to carry perishable goods. Air transportation is used to carry some goods depending on the conditions. 

Pros and cons of air transportation

The pros of air transportation are:

  • High speed over long distances for the goods that are to be delivered as quickly as possible. 
  • High security for the sensitive goods

This method also involves some dangers and drawbacks including:

  • High costs
  • The probability of flight cancellations and flight delay
  • Airport tax that is to be paid 
  • The need for reloading in the airport and carriage to the final destination
  • The fuel price usually increases the transportation costs

Sea transportation

Most of the international transportation is done through sea transportation. About 70% of the global trade is transported by ships. 

Sea transportation is the carriage of goods using different types of ships, boats, and other types of water vehicles through the sea, oceans, and rivers or canals. 

This method requires some particular infrastructures and equipment just like other transportation methods. Iran has taken a major step to improve the speed and quality of international trade by building ports, loading and discharging equipment, roofed and unroofed warehouses, creating some institutions like customs and other bodies connected with importation and exportation. 

One of the advantages of this transportation method is the capability to carry a large volume of goods at reasonable costs. Sea transportation has some drawbacks, just like other transportation methods, including:

  • Sea transportation is slower than other transpiration methods
  • The routes and timetables are not usually flexible 
  • It is difficult to keep track of goods

Having appropriate insurance in this transportation method is of great importance. The insurance under Sea Transport Convention covers some limited damages and it is recommended that you should also use different types of additional insurance.

Road transportation

Road transportation is the most flexible international transportation method. This method is used for a wide range of goods and destinations due to the variety of the roads and also the accessibility to the routes at any given time. Road transportation is more popular in countries where there is no access to international waters. 

This method may cover either some of the carriage processes or the whole process. 

The advantages of road transportation are:

  • Low costs 
  • Possibility of using a variety of routes 
  • Possibility of planning transportation on any favorable date
  • Possibility of tracking the current location of the goods at any point in time
  • Safe and private delivery

Road transportation also involves some drawbacks and challenges that we should take note of. The dangers of road transportation are:

  • Long distances through land routes require greater time to transfer the goods
  • There might be a delay in the delivery of goods due to traffic jams or vehicle breakdown
  • The risk of damage to goods, particularly over long distances 
  • High road tolls in some countries
  • Road regulations in some countries are very restrictive and annoying 

Rail transportation

Rail transportation is one of the safest methods of international transportation where the risk of crash and damage to the goods is less than those of other methods. Also, rail transportation is one of the cheapest transportation methods. 

Transportation with the railroad first prevailed in Europe and America, and then it was used throughout the world. This transportation method is done according to the Uniform Rules Concerning the Contract for International Carriage of Goods by Rail. 

Risks of rail transportation:

  • Routes and timetables of rail transportation are not as flexible as those of road transportation
  • Mechanical breakdown of the rail may delay the transportation of goods

Combined transportation

Since the seller’s warehouse that is used for loading goods and the buyer’s warehouse that is used for taking delivery of goods are some distance away from the airport, railway station, or port, it is not possible to use a single method in international transportation and we have to use more than one method. 

In the combined transportation method, usually, a truck is used to carry goods to ports or airports that require transshipment or stuffing to change the goods carriage vehicle. 

Transferring goods from one carriage vehicle to another that is called transshipment requires reloading which imposes greater costs on the businessmen and takes more time. Therefore, transshipment of goods should be mentioned in the proforma invoice, and order registration license. 


In the present paper, we realized that the transportation method is selected considering the type of goods, points of origin and destination, businessmen budget of carriage, and each goods carriage method is appropriate for a particular good. Of course, you should bear in mind that the rules adopted by different countries concerning each particular transportation method and the tax they receive are crucial in this regard. GTG Commercial Company provides international transportation services with reasonable prices, high security, and acceptable delivery time to its customers along with some other services. GTG Commercial Company provides some services including transshipment and cross stuff to its customers as well as transportation services. 

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