If you're shipping to Japan, you should read this article first.

Shipping to Japan made harder


Receiving Accurate information from the shipper is the cornerstone to any trouble-free shipment. Unfortunately, even the smallest mistakes can be costly when it comes to international freight shipping.

We had a client recently where they did not accurately size up the height of their shipment, & ended up being 12” too high. To make it worse, we were shipping to a military base in an area that had many restrictions when it comes to freight.

Not shipping to Japan? Try one of these instead:

Our client is based in Savannah, Georgia, and they were shipping to a U.S. military base in Naha, Japan, and the odds were stacked against us before we even knew of this shipment.

This is the story of what we were up against, what went wrong, and how we were able to recover. If you’re shipping to a smaller town like this in Japan or any place where geography or security are going to be a challenge, this article is for you!

Challenge: Oversized Cargo

Anytime a shipment is classified as “oversized,” it’s because it won’t fit into standard 20 or 40 foot ocean containers (or the high cube or specialty 45′). This client was shipping 3 x 40′ flat racks carrying oversized hydraulic bleachers.


Bulk shipping
RO/RO service
Open top containers
Flat racks.

Normally, we would look for bulk or RO-RO (roll-on, roll-off – more HERE) services, but this kind of service is not available to Naha. We were asked by the shipper to drop off the flat racks outside of their docks, which we did.

Challenge: Loading the Cargo

When we arrived to the manufacturer’s docks, we discovered that they were not equipped or prepared in any way to load the bleachers onto our racks, so we had to retrieve the empty container & truck them to our warehouse near the Savannah port.

The bleachers are on wheels & were hauled to our warehouse instead. We were given specific dimensions and weights for 3 sets of bleachers to be professionally loaded & lashed down on the 3 flat racks.

After the warehouse loaded the bleachers onto the 3 x 40’ flat racks & were about to be trucked, the height was found to be 12” too high per flat rack. Regulations over the road would not allow to pull a permit risking hitting power lines & underpasses.

Our warehouse crew had to unload the flat racks & return them empty. Thereafter the bleachers on wheels were hauled up to the steam line & the loading takes place at the port.

The Core Problem

Shippers are responsible to provide the correct 3 dimensions & when in doubt, you can ask for a shipment to be re-weighed & the dimensions re-checked. In this particular case, the shipper was initially loading at their premises & simply had the wrong dimensions. It created  successive set of events, which had to be addressed (booking cancellation, unloading 3 flat racks, hauling the cargo to the port, pulling new flat racks & re-loading under a new booking.)



The solution

A new rolled-over booking takes place, the bleachers are hauled up to the port, were the loading of new flat racks takes place, by-passing the issue of permit over the road & minimizing extra charges.

And the client will be leaning on us quite a bit more in the future to help with their logistical planning.

Moral of the story – triple check your dimensions, and get a freight forwarder who can help you navigate the occassional blunder.

Get a freight quote for your shipment to Japan today!

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