Sea transport from India

Update date:
21 May 2024
Date of publication:
15 Nov 2023
Reading time: 9 minutes

Table of contents:

With a population of an impressive 1.428 billion people (as of 2022), India represents a remarkable field of economic experience. Their Gross Domestic Product, estimated by the International Monetary Fund to be US$ 3.74 trillion, reflects not only a huge population, but also an impressive manufacturing potential. This, in turn, attracts the attention of many European importers, who choose India as a source of high-quality goods. This dynamic region is emerging as an important trading partner, shaping global markets and creating beneficial cooperation opportunities. The most common mode of transport from India is maritime transportand this article will be devoted to a detailed discussion of this mode of transport

How much does shipping from India cost ?

Shipping prices can vary widely, to check the exact price it is best to send an enquiry to the shipping company and have the current shipping rate from India. 

How long does a ship take from India to Poland?

Containers by sea take an average of 33 to about 43 days to sail. The time is calculated from the moment a ship leaves a port in India and arrives at a port in Poland, for example in Gdansk. 

For example, there are also voyages that can take longer, such as 55 days. It all depends on where the ship is sailing from and how many ports it will be stopping at along the way.

Information on transport time i.e. transit time are always given by shipowners, when ordering sea transport you should always ask what the TT is. In the case of sea transport, delays also occur and it is sometimes the case that containers can be rolled and moved to the next ship's departure. 

Concept of LCL and FCL in maritime transport

In maritime transport, we can ship FCL or FULL CONTAINER LOAD or LCL - LESS CONTAINER LOAD. FCL means full container loads, i.e. a whole container of goods, while LCL means all smaller loads under one container.

For LCL loads, the quantity of goods is given by the number of CBMs. For example 14 CBMs of goods.

Consolidation of smaller loads:

For smaller loads, in a container consolidated are goods from several or a dozen shippers. This action allows the shipment of small loads. Companies provide shipment services from as little as 1 CBM or approximately one pallet.

Moving the ICOTERMS formulas: FOB, CIF and EXW

When transporting by sea, we will encounter the 3 most common INCOTERMS trade rules.

FOB ( FREE ON BOARD ) -> in this formula our shipper in China our shipper will be responsible for delivering the container to the loading port and for clearing export customs together with other necessary documentation.

EXW (Ex Works) -> in this formula, the company that undertakes to do the transport for us will take care of collecting the container from the shipper, export customs clearance and other necessary documentation. Of course this also includes sea freight to the destination country including Poland.

CIF (Cost, Insurance and Freight)  --> In the case of the formula CIF Chinese The seller is entirely responsible for shipping, we are left to pay the port costs at the destination, e.g. Gdansk. However, we must be careful with LCL cargo shipped on a CIF formula, most of such cargo shipped to Poland is charged huge port costs in Gdansk, which often exceed the cost of transport many times over. The cargo will reach its destination port in Gdansk, but we have already experienced many times a situation in which the transport was supposed to cost USD 500, but after adding port costs, it turned out to be USD 3000 - 4000. This is a fraudulent practice, so it is never worth using this trade rule.

It is a different matter with full containers where this practice does not occur as often. In the case of full containers, this practice is made more difficult.

Where do ships from India arrive?

As far as Poland is concerned, ships from India mostly arrive in Gdansk, occasionally a ship will arrive in Gdynia. Apart from Poland, a popular direction is to send containers to Hamburg, but unless we have a specific purpose in mind, e.g. easier passage customs clearance this solution is not very cost-effective, due to the high cost of returning the cargo / container to Poland.

Insurance in shipping from India?

For transport goods it is always worth buying additional insurancewhich, in the event of any damage, will help us recover our money. The cost we will have to pay is an additional dozen or so USD, depending on the value of the goods.  

Which cargoes can be transported by sea?

Maritime transport is much less susceptible to various restrictions such as air transport or rail. Batteries and liquids can be transported by sea. Before shipping, we will be asked for the Material Safety Data Sheet, or MSDS. This will enable our logistics partner to check the cargo for safety and determine whether it can be transported. It may be that shipments with hazardous substances command a higher price. 

Some logistics companies may refuse to transport a particular load because they do not have the necessary authorisations. It is then best to look for a company that specialises directly in the transport of dangerous goods. 

What does customs clearance look like for maritime transport?

When the ship arrives in Poland, whether we are talking about LCL cargo or FCL the process will look similar. 

You will need to compliment the documents and declare the cargo for customs clearance, the best way to do this is through a professional agency. The cost will not be much, it will be about 50-60 USD, and we will be sure that everything has been done correctly. 

Key seaports in India

India, as the seventh largest economy in the world, has a a number of key seaportswhich play an important role in international trade. Jawaharlal Nehru Port, also known as Nhava Sheva, is the largest container port in the country, handling around 50% of total container traffic. Chennai Port is India's second-largest container port, mainly handling export and import movements from Southeast Asian countries. Kolkata Port is India's oldest operating port, handling a wide range of goods from raw materials to finished products. Port Mundra is the largest privately owned port in the country, handling mainly container traffic and energy raw materials. In conclusion, Kandla Port is a key port for bulk and liquid cargo traffic. Below is a checklist for these ports:

  • Jawaharlal Nehru Port - largest container port
  • Chennai Port - second largest container port
  • Kolkata Port - oldest operating port
  • Port Mundra - largest private port
  • Kandla Port - key port for bulk and liquid cargoes


Main goods exported from India by sea

A major player in the global market, India exports a wide range of goods via maritime transport. Petroleum products account for a significant share of exports, with India being one of the largest exporters of these products in the world. Also jewellery and gemstones are an important part of India's exports, with a large proportion of production sent to various parts of the world.

  1. Petroleum products
  2. Jewellery and gemstones
  3. Leather products
  4. Chemical products
  5. Textiles
  6. Machinery and equipment

Other goods exported from India by sea include. chemical products, textiles, machinery and equipment. These commodities, though diverse, are of great importance to the Indian economy and contribute to its growth. Maritime transport is a key element in the export of these goods, enabling large-scale distribution.

  1. Chemical products
  2. Textiles
  3. Machinery and equipment
  4. Food and role products

Finally, it is important not to forget food and agricultural products, which are another important component of Indian exports. India is one of the largest producers and exporters of food in the world and shipping plays a key role in getting these products to consumers around the world.

3. importance of maritime transport to India's economy

Maritime transport plays a key role in the Indian economy, being not only a source of revenue but also a key element in international trade.

  • Sea ports in India handle over 90% of the country's foreign trade by volume and 70% by value.
  • India has 12 major seaports and about 200 smaller ones, which shows the importance of this mode of transport to the country.
  • Maritime transport is also crucial for the energy sector India, as most imported oil and gas is transported by sea.

The importance of maritime transport to the Indian economy, therefore, cannot be overstated and its development has a direct impact on the country's economic growth.

Maritime carriers operating on Indian routes

There are a number of reputable carriers operating in the maritime transport market from India. Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM are just some of the companies that offer regular services to the main Indian ports. Their fleets consist of modern container ships that are capable of carrying large volumes of goods in a safe and efficient manner. These carriers are constantly investing in the development of their services to meet the growing demands of the market.

 Challenges and issues in maritime transport from India

Despite its strategic importance, sea transport from India faces a number of challenges and issues that hinder its effective functioning. Some of these include:

  • Port infrastructure: Lack of modern port infrastructure is one of the major problems. Most of India's seaports are outdated and unable to meet the growing demand for transport services.
  • Regulation: India's shipping sector is highly regulated, which often leads to bureaucracy and delays.
  • Lack of professionalism: Lack of professionalism among port workers is another major problem. This leads to low efficiency and delays in handling ships.

These problems need urgent attention and solutions in order to India's maritime transport sector could make the most of its potential and contribute to the country's economic growth.

The future of maritime transport in India: Trends and forecasts

India's significant economic growth over the past decade, driven by increasing demand for goods and services, has contributed to an increased need for efficient and reliable transport services. This trend is forecast to continue, putting India's maritime transport sector in the spotlight. This growth is being driven by several factors, including increasing urbanisation, development of port infrastructure and increasing international trade.

In response to these changes, the Indian maritime transport sector has undergone a number of transformations to become more efficient and competitive. Introduction of new technologies, such as automation and digitalisation, has helped to increase efficiency and reduce costs. In addition, the Government of India has taken a number of initiatives to improve port infrastructure and facilitate international trade.

Looking to the future, India's maritime transport sector is expected to continue to grow. Forecasts suggest that growth will be driven by further development of port infrastructure, increased international trade and the introduction of new technologies. However, the sector will also face a number of challenges, such as climate change, increased competition and growing sustainability requirements.

How to benefit from shipping from India:

When planning to use maritime transport from India, it is worth noting a few key aspects. First and foremost, a thorough understanding of India's customs procedures and regulations is essential.

  • Knowledge of legislation: Understanding India's customs laws and export regulations is essential. Any inaccuracies can lead to delays and additional costs.
  • Choosing the right carrier: Choosing a company that specialises in shipping from India is crucial. It is worth looking at experience, reliability and the services offered.
  • Goods insurance: Shipping by sea involves a certain amount of risk, so it is always worth considering insuring your goods. In the event of possible damage or loss of cargo, insurance can cover losses.

Remember that effective planning and preparation is the key to successful use of the maritime transport from India

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