Choosing How to Dispatch your Cargo

When you are sending freight overseas, your options are either air freight or sea freight. The selection process of how you choose which way to dispatch your cargo oversea is based on a few criteria. The deciding factors  are many including the level of urgency of the cargo, the physical nature of the cargo and its contents,  the budget and cost for shipping and freight, special requirements for handling, the value of the cargo, the frequency of such deliveries, and not to mention, the weight and volume of the cargo. All these factors will decide how you choose to dispatch your cargo.

In certain instances, there may be times that these factors may conflict with each other, in which case you, as the shipper, need to make an executive decision. For example, whilst you may require the goods to be sent urgently, the goods in question may not be authorised to be dispatched via air freight due to regulations or there may not be enough funds in the budget.

If we were to consider the factors to consider when choosing how to dispatch your cargo, the following are to be considered.

Nature of your Cargo

Depending on the nature or type of cargo you are planning on dispatching, the choice of transport is determined. If you are planning to dispatch your cargo which is perishable in nature, then the obvious choice is air freight, whereas, the likes of dangerous goods such as fertiliser cannot be sent via air freight due to regulations and must be dispatched via sea freight.

Geography and Travel

The distance and geography between your point of origin and destination will decide on how you dispatch your cargo.  Road, rail or sea freight may be the obvious choices for surface shipments, if not air freight will be your go to.


The urgency of your delivery and based on how much priority should be given, your cargo may need to e dispatched by the fastest means possible, which is air freight, but that does not warrant for a cost effective solution.  When planning procurement and supply chain, it is always a good business practice to allow for shipment in the timeline to avoid rush shipments which could be costly.


The cost of your shipment will be based on size & volume, and also timeliness. Based on these factors, you may choose sea over air. A good rule to follow would be to group small shipments together.


High valued shipments are often sent over air freight even if there is no time factor due to the fact that the journey will be less vigorous. Proper packing practices should always be taken, it’s always advisable to undertake the added fee and get professionals to do the packaging for you to avoid damage and also take on shipping insurance.

  • A general rule of thumb that shippers or freight forwarders use, is that if the cargo is relatively of high value or high volume, then dispatch your cargo via air freight.
  • If the cargo is relatively of low value or low volume, then opt to dispatch your cargo via sea freight.