AFRICA. The very name can evoke numerous images of spectacular flora and fauna, mountain regions and Saharan deserts, tradition and culture, oftentimes seemingly so very different from that of the United States. While this spectacular and vast land may only represent an amazing travel opportunity for some, for others it is their home country or the main source of their business. If you fall into these latter two categories, then you know how critical shipping containers from the United States to Africa is for the well being of your family, community, or business. Whether you are shipping for personal or professional reasons, it is crucial to choose a shipping company with the experience, knowledge, and legal expertise to safely and securely move your goods from the United States to Africa.

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Standardization and Safety

Does the idea of shipping to Africa conjure up images of pirates and danger? Top television shows and movies often portray a Hollywood version of the foreign shipping industry fraught with pirates on the seas and little regard for the laws within the ports themselves. Although piracy does remain a current concern in Africa, pirates in general do not take over large freight vessels carrying shipping containers. However, whenever shipping to foreign countries, difficulties and problems may arise. To help minimize the impact of these, it especially important that you choose a shipping company with significant local contacts in the destination country. Local experts may provide assistance with everything from damaged goods to local customs concerns. Of course, you should also always purchase insurance coverage from the shipping company just in case something unexpected should go awry. Don’t forget to review the insurance policy and make note of any special circumstances which may be excluded from the policy coverage.

The ports themselves must meet high levels of safety and security. Within the shipping industry a process of standardization is in place. The shipping container will follow the same procedures, regardless of destination. So, for example, the procedure to ship a container to Europe will be the same as that completed to ship a container to Africa. Every single container is assigned a unit or box number. This is a unique identifier to the container.

The unit or box number can be found on the Shipping Order. This document is provided to you by your shipping company. The information included in this document is absolutely essential. It contains both the item or box number as well as an itemized list of the container’s contents. Here you can also find information regarding the various phases of the shipping process and the different contacts who will be involved for each of these phases. You will find information such as who is the listed owner of the goods and the departure and destination ports.

Shipping to South Africa

South Africa, the 25th largest country in the world, was the initial port location for the southern region of the African continent. There are multiple shipping ports in South Africa including Durban, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, and Nggura. The port of Nggura is the newest addition to this list. It became operational commercially in October 2009 and holds the distinction of being the deepest container port in South Africa. You can also ship to other countries in the south of Africa including Angola and Namibia. From Namibia’s port of Walvis Bay, items can be transported to additional countries throughout Africa. Contact your shipping carrier to find out information regarding accessible ports and their ability to accept containers as well as car shipping.

Shipping to West Africa

shipping to west africa

Shipping to West Africa accounts for a huge volume in container shipping services throughout the African region. Multiple shipping lines are represented throughout a number of countries in this region. One of the largest importers of American goods is Nigeria. In Nigeria there are several shipping ports, of which the largest is Lagos. Lagos is the largest city in Africa, boasting a population greater than 21 million people. This busy transit center handles over 5.75 million tons of cargo annually. Lagos has two main ports, the Port of Apapa and Tincan. Apapa is only able to service container items while motorized vehicles needing roll on roll off service will go through Tincan. Another large importer in West Africa is Ghana. Ghana seaports include Tema andTakoradi. The Port of Tema is one of the busiest in West Africa. Here import and exports items are processed and many are then shipped on to neighboring landlocked countries including Burkina Faso. Within West Africa, there are several other countries with shipping lines such as Dakar, the capital of Senegal and a large seaport for containers and freight of all types. You may also find yourself needing to ship containers or vehicles to other countries such as Liberia, Ivory Coast, or Sierra Leone. Contact your company for specific rates and shipping line information.

Shipping to East Africa

There are multiple countries with shipping lines within East Africa including shipping to Eritrea, Djibouti, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Kenya. The largest port in East Africa is Mombasa in Kenya. In recognition of the economic benefits, including the creation the jobs, the Kenyan government has invested heavily within the country’s transportation system. Mombasa is at the center of the East African transport system and after entering the ports, goods can then be transported throughout other East African countries such as Uganda and Rwanda. Please notify your shipping carrier if the final destination of your items is to another location within East Africa. They can help ensure that your containers have the appropriate paperwork to meet transcountry shipping requirements when you items are going on to a landlocked African country.

Shipping to North Africa

shipping to north africa

North Africa is represented by eight countries, making up the northern most region of Africa. These countries include Libya, Sudan, South Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Western Sahara. This northern-most region is separated from the rest of Africa by the Saharan desert. Morocco is unique amongst this group as the only African country with borders to the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Worldwide, this distinction is shared with France and Spain. The largest port in Morocco is Casablanca.

This is considered to be one of the most sophisticated ports in the world. Annually, more than 21 million tons of freight process through this port managed by Marsa Moroc. Whether to Casablanca or any of the other North African countries, your experienced worldwide shipping company can you assist with information regarding containers, cost, and shipping lines.

Love Your Peanut Butter? Ship It!

If you are relocating to Africa, consider including some of your favorite brands and liquids in your shipment as they may not be easy to get in-country. If you love your shampoo brand, Heinz ketchup (the local variety is more of a tomato sauce), or a particular peanut butter, pack it with your household goods. While these items are available through online grocery and drugstore sites, it may be difficult to ship because of liquid packaging restrictions and the shipping time. While American items are becoming increasingly easier to find abroad, keep in mind that if you absolutely love something it is better to have it with you. Similar items may often be found, with some looking, but may represent a much higher cost than that paid in the United States.

Individual Country Restrictions

Please keep in mind that individual countries may require specific shipping information. When shipping to Gabon, the government of Gabon requires a BIETC number, a country specific tracking number. These individualized, more specific requirements, highlight the need for choosing an experienced shipping company who is familiar with the region and has a network of local contacts in place.

Don’t forget that countries may also have specific customs duties and restrictions. For example, by customs regulations some countries do not allow for the shipping of cars more than 10-15 years old. In Ghana, cars must be less than 10 years old. Otherwise, there are higher taxes and duties imposed on these vehicles. Be sure to check customs guides for general information regarding import taxes and duties.

Bluesea Shipping is an industry leader in worldwide shipping. Contact them today for personalized shipping quotes to Africa. With their many years of experience, legal and customs expertise, and extensive network of in-country local contacts, they can be counted on for all of your personal and professional shipping needs.