Merchant haulage is when the owner of the goods or freight is responsible for the haulage of their cargo to and from the port. Freight that is shipped around the world, is normally shipped in shipping containers, which can be loaded onto different forms of travel, ships, trains, planes, or lorries. It is important to understand who is responsible for the container and its cargo during the different stages of the supply chain of a complex international shipment. Merchant haulage has both pros and cons when compared with carrier haulage. Here at JMD Haulage, we work with many businesses that have chosen merchant haulage as their preferred haulage system and need road haulage to and from a British port. We also work with shipping companies who are arranging carrier haulage and need reliable door to port container haulage services to fulfil their obligations.

Key Elements of Merchant Haulage

The key to merchant haulage is responsibility. Who is responsible for the container when it is moving to and from a port? With merchant haulage, the responsibility for the container rests with the owner of the cargo or the company that is shipping the freight. Whilst the shipping company will assume responsibility for the container once it is in the port, the responsibility to get the container to the port in good time rests with the merchant. It is the merchant’s responsibility to organise the road transport required to get the container to the port. Equally, once the freight lands in the destination port, the responsibility for the container reverts back to the merchant, who must ensure that they have organised onward travel for their container.

Example of Merchant Haulage

If you are shipping components from your factory in Leeds to a destination in Italy, where your components will be used in an Italian factory, you may decide to use merchant haulage. In this case, you will need to arrange road transport from your factory to the port at Liverpool, to arrive in good time for the shipping company to load your container onto their ship. Once the ship docks at the port in Italy, you will need to have arranged road haulage to collect your container and deliver this to the factory in Italy. The shipping company is only responsible for your container from port to port, you will need to source and arrange road transport for the door to port, and port to door sections of the journey. If your container sits at the port for too long, you could be subject to storage charges on your container, which can be expensive.

What is the Difference Between Merchant and Carrier Haulage?

The difference between merchant haulage and carrier haulage lies in who is responsible for the container during its journey. As discussed in merchant haulage, the owner, or company, is responsible for their goods to and from the port. With carrier haulage, the shipping company is responsible for the whole route, from door to door. The shipping company must arrange and organise all the freight logistics to ensure that the container is safely collected and delivered to its final destination.

What are the Advantages of Merchant Haulage?

Whilst merchant haulage can be considered to be more expensive, as a shipping method, it does come with a whole host of advantages. Namely, flexibility, availability, adaptability, and reliability. Due to the nature of shipping companies, which are predominantly experienced in sea freight, they can be slow and cumbersome when it comes to road transport. When you use merchant haulage, you can choose to book a haulage company of your choice, that can react swiftly to any problems or changes, and who you can build a long-term relationship with. Merchant haulage gives you control and choice to manage these sections of the transport of your containers. Bear in mind, that this will mean additional admin work to organise the freight supply chain, but the advantages, in general, outweigh the negatives for most companies.

Applicability and Industries

Many industries choose to use merchant haulage, however, it does come down to the requirements of the individual company. A company that only occasionally exports or imports would probably choose to use carrier haulage for simplicity. If you are regularly exporting and importing, and it is a time-sensitive shipment, then generally merchant haulage would be considered to be the best choice. As long as you have the manpower and scope to manage the extra work of merchant haulage, then you can benefit from the advantages of merchant haulage.

Legal and Regulatory Considerations

If you are transporting freight across country borders, you need to be aware of the laws and regulations involved. Always be very clear with your haulier who is responsible for the cross-border paperwork. If you are using merchant haulage, then be aware that your container may move countries as it enters the dock. You may need to provide all the necessary paperwork at this point or ensure that the relevant documentation is passed over from the shipping company. Always check the required paperwork for different countries, and for the export and import of freight, as each border has different rules and regulations, and there can be a high price for not following these.

Let JMD Haulage Lighten Your Load

If you have chosen to use merchant haulage for your import or export, then you will need a reliable, affordable, and professional road haulage company to fulfil the door to port element of your international shipment. We work with many businesses across the country to provide merchant haulage services. We have good relationships with shipping companies, due to our close location to the thriving Liverpool docks, and can provide services to shipping companies who need to fulfil their carrier haulage requirements. If you are looking for road haulage, speak to our helpful and professional team today, call us on 0151 547 6740


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