We hope that our frequently asked questions will provide some clarity on the exciting shipping sector.

1. What is the difference between Customs Clearing & Freight Forwarding?

  • Customs clearing is the process of completing Customs formalities necessary to allow goods to be imported or exported to or from a country. This includes payment of all legislated taxes (Customs and VAT) as well as fulfillment of the requirements of other government departments such as Agriculture Forestry & Fisheries, Health, Trade & Industry and Transport (Maritime and Aviation).
  • Freight Forwarding is a service provided by specialist Logistics Service Providers (Freight Forwarders) for arranging importing or exporting of goods by Sea, Air or Land on behalf of their customers, from point of origin to final destination.
    Freight Forwarders use established relationships with Air, Sea and Land Carriers to ensure the best trade-off between speed, reliability and cost whilst fulfilling customer requirements.

2. What minimum information will Pacific Freight Line need in order to provide an estimate for exporting my goods?

  • The total weight and dimensions of the cargo
  • The commodity
  • The pickup address
  • The delivery address
  • The shipping terms

3. What documentation will Pacific Freight Line need to clear my goods?

  • A commercial Invoice from the supplier.
  • A copy of the transport document (bill of lading or airway bill)

4. How do I register to become an importer?

  • Complete a DA185/Importer application from SARS

5. How do I register to become an exporter?

  • Complete the DA185/Exporter application from SARS

6. How long will the customs clearance process take?

  • Anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 working days, depending on the cargo and other variable factors.

7. Should I insure my cargo?

  • Yes. All Carriers trade under limited liability conditions and may not entertain claims for loss or damage irrespective of the cause. Under certain conditions you may even be compelled by maritime law to contribute to salvage costs of cargo other than yours that has been jettisoned at sea in the interest of the safety of the ship.

8. How can I prevent delays and ensure a smooth process of my shipment ?

  • Ensure payment is made to your supplier early enough to avoid delays in obtaining Bill of Lading release.
  • Ensure that your overseas supplier, or if you are the supplier for an export, creates all required documents correctly and sends to the destination in time to ensure customs clearing and payment of cargo dues do not delay collection of your shipment at Port of discharge.

9. How best can one save money on air freight?

  • Choose a Groupage Service if available. Transit times may be longer but costs are lower as your shipment is grouped with others in order to share the benefit of a lower rate.
  • Ensure contents of boxes are packed without any space wastage.
    Airfreight charges are based on actual mass or a volumetric ratio, whichever is the higher.

10. What are volumetric charges for Air and Sea carriage?

  • Airline charges are based on shipment actual mass or a volumetric charge of 6000 cubic centimetres equals 1 kilogram, whichever is the higher.
  • Shipping Lines less than container load (LCL) charges are based on metric tons or cubic meters, whichever is the higher.

11. Is it more cost-effective to import by sea or air?

  • The most cost effective mode of transport depends on the actual mass and volume of a shipment. Small shipments, typically below 100 kilograms, tend to be less costly by air. The value of a shipment also influences overall cost due to the increased cost of capital for longer transit periods when shipped by sea.

12. What is the maximum size of a shipment that can be sent by air freight?

  • This depends on the airline selected and the type of aircraft they operate on the route required.
  • A rule of thumb is about 300 x 200 x 150 centimetres


13. Are there commodities that cannot be shipped by air freight?

  • Yes, some items may endanger the safety of an aircraft or persons on board. The air transportation of dangerous materials can either be forbidden or restricted. Examples of such commodities are: Hazardous, flammable, dangerous chemicals and explosive materials.



14. Where does Pacific Freight Line ship to?

  • Pacific Freight Line is a member of a Global Network that spans 309 cities in 119 countries.
    Please contact Pacific Freight Line for any specific destination that you may want to ship to.

15. Can Pacific Freight Line ship my goods door to door?

  • Yes, we are able to arrange pickup at origin and delivery at destination through our network of 596 offices in 309 cities.

16. Can cargo get released without presentation of an original Bill of Lading?

  • Yes, a telex release of the Bill of lading can be arranged by the shipper. The shipper surrenders the Original Bill of Lading back to the Shipping Line at origin who advises their destination office to release the shipment to the consignee.
  • A second option is for the shipper to arrange an Express Bill of Lading with the Shipping Line at origin. No original is issued, just a copy Bill of Lading is handed over to the shipper once the shipment is on board. The shipment is then released immediately upon arrival at destination. No further document needs to be surrendered by the importer.

17. Does Pacific Freight Line handle personal and household effects?

  • Pacific Freight Line does not handle personal and household effects. We would recommend that you contract a company which specialises in the handling of personal or household effects.

18. What can a good forwarding agent like Pacific Freight Line do for me?

  • A good Forwarding Agent will take ownership of your consignment from point of pickup to final delivery, provide you with advice that is in your best interest, take corrective action if there are any changes to planned transit and keep you updated on shipment progress.
  • Activities that your Forwarding Agent should be taking care of include:
    • Advise you of estimated costs, service options and any statute requirements.
    • Arranging pick up.
    • Arrange all export formalities.
    • Ensure your shipment is booked on the first available departure.
    • Monitor shipment progress.
    • Ensure customs formalities are completed accurately, timeously and that correct duties are accounted for.
    • Payment of all cargo dues and customs duties.
    • Arranging customs examinations and other releases that may be required from all government departments.