How to Ship Large Freight By Air?

Introduction: Large Freight

Here is a very touching video. This is not only about freight but about a loving heart. It is meant to show large freight is possible on smaller aircraft. Commercial transport of oversized freight is, however, done in a completely different way . Courtesy David Gates We salute you Gary Roberts for your big heart



How to ship large freight is a “large” question. There are too many points to put on the check list. Large freight means freight that is oversized and that includes heavy freight and  is usually shipped as sea freight. However, large machines and structures, often, become emergency freight and the forwarding has to be fast.

Should you charter cargo aircraft? What does the forwarding cost?  How long does it take? What arrangements are to be done? Too many questions surface.

Realistic and Down To Earth Thinking

  • Keep a cool head and think of all possible questions about transportation. You will need to consider at least the following points
  • Freight packaging: if the freight is more than 10 tons, most airlines will refuse a packaged freight. Unknown content, untold risk!
  • Know the dimensions of the freight: Length, Width and Height
  • Weigh the freight! Know the nett and the gross weight
  • A heavy-duty forklift might be needed
  • A gantry crane might be necessary
  • Should a heavy-duty crane be ordered?
  • Cranes might mean, the freight has rings for steel shafts to be inserted. The hoist chains or cables are then attached to the shafts
  • Any moving items need to be dismantled and secured in such a way that the pieces neither move nor cause damage to the sides of the freight
  • If the freight can be moved, lifted or loaded using a forklift, the freight must be mounted on pallets (please refer  freight packaging  )
  • Do not finish the packaging before the airline people inspect the cargo

No hazardous materials to be included! Any item, which has been classified as hazardous as per the IATA regulation, is to be excluded. Pressure chambers are classified as dangerous goods. so ship them separately.  VERY IMPORTANT: When packaging pressure chambers, make the packaging so dense that the content does not show any movement when shaken. (This will be updated)

  • Any fragile item should be excluded or well protected.
  • Protect the edges of the freight. styrofoam is better. It is light
  • Make room available under the freight for wooden boarding! Metal against metal (air freight pallets are of aluminium) is not permitted on aircraft.


Dimension, Weight and other factors

  • The aircraft doorways are not extremely big. There are limitations like door actuators, which, although small, can become problematic for ver high cargo
  • The length, width and the height of the freight have to be considered in relationship to the aircraft and the weight of the freight
  • Not all aircraft have winches on board
  • If the height of the freight is more than 240 cm, it cannot be loaded on to  an MD 11
  • On a 747 freighter a height of 295 cm might be critical (depending on the version of the aircraft )
  • Nose Load (loading through the nose of the aircraft: the cone is lifted to show the cargo compartment located under the cockpit on a 747 jumbo) is not possible for freight of more than 249 cm! (weight and width of the cargo will also be taken into consideration)
  • Advance arrangements for offloading and transportation are to be done at the airport of destination.
  • Additionally, the import clearance should be planned down to the minutest detail.


  • Know your international air freight rate!
  • You are paying for volume! It is the chargeable weight that counts.
  • Ask for the chargeable weight on the air way bill  (if you are being billed for items separately and not a single lump sum price )
  • Should your freight be insured?
  • Crane charges are for the time taken! ask for the correct pricing!



  • Keep good photos of the freight (even digital ones)
  • Commercial invoices
  • Packing Lists
  • If wood is used: have you included a fumigation certificate? Ask the consignee if it is needed! Written statements, please!
  • Contact numbers (telephone, fax, mobile phone etc.) mentioned on the papers?



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Business Between Germany and India: Tips

International Air Freight Consultant


India is a booming economy and one of the most important future markets. A growing middle class and increasing standards of living have changed the relaxed and complex country into a powerhouse of economic development. There is a lot of movement of goods on the international trade lane to and from India. This article proposes to show prospective industries both in India and in Germany a few salient points, which will help both the sides avoid headaches and unnecessary stress.

It must be mentioned in advance that no negativity is meant in the article. It considers the facts in all honesty and the attempt, here, is to offer solutions and not to cause discomfort.

Important note:

The masculine pronoun ‘he’ is being used here in the historical neutral sense and it implies not only the male members of society but also the female.

The German scenario

No matter what trade is being done and from where, the simplest factor that forms the most important part of the foundation is the human one. The German approach is a systematic one, set in an apparently, rigid frame-work.

The German work flow has a linear functionality compared to the relaxed approach found in India. An order will be processed in a certain pre-determined way. Although many people consider the German system inflexible, it is not really the case. One must approach it from the German way, that is all. The Indian way of functioning is, in comparison, quite different. There is a relaxed nature to everything, which is not meant in a deliberate way. One just needs to know in advance the functioning of the subcontinent.

A typical work flow that takes place in Germany would be as follows. I shall not go into details but just give an approximation of the entire process.

The order will be processed by a particular department

A particular person will be responsible for the order and he will always have a standby person, who will take care of the order in the absence of the former.

Once the order is placed, it is a standard practice to send the buyer an order confirmation letter. This document will, almost always, carry an order confirmation number, the date and the name of the person who processed it.

The order in its technical sense, I. e. the technicalities of the item ordered, will be the sole concern of the sales department. This department is not directly involved in the despatch of the items, its packaging or in the customs formalities.

The despatch department will handle the packaging, the customs documents, the putting together of the papers that go with the goods and the communication with the freight forwarder.

Once the goods are ready, they are packaged in conformity with the regulations of international trade. Depending on the amount shown on the commercial invoice, the pre-export customs formalities are set in motion. This usually has a delay of at least one day. There are exceptions to this rule, where an export declaration will be released by the German customs on the same day.

Once the export papers are ready the freight forwarder can organise the pick up of the freight. The pick up will be subject to the conditions of the shipper. There might be limitations, such as pick up timings, pick up formalities (if it is a big company), pick up equipment etc.

Communication is always to the point. Unnecessary points are almost never included resulting in short and concise interaction. The German principle is: be short and precise.

Communication regarding the invoicing, pricing, commissions, discounts etc. are to be directed to the sales department.

Communication about despatch, customs formalities, air way bill etc. are to be directed to the despatch department.

The person on the German side is to be addressed by Mr or Mrs followed by the surname and not by the first name (the latter way is common in India). One may use the first and the last name, too. If the gender is not known, please use the first and the last name (Correct spelling is important. Speaking from experience).

The Indian scenario

Emails from India will, almost always, be copied to (several) persons that are involved in the process. If the gender of the person is not known (which is often the case) please use the first and the last name, as mentioned above.

The promptness in replying, often seen on the German side, may not be reciprocated from India, but it is not meant in an impolite way. Decision making processes in India is quite a complex affair but things are changing.

A short email confirming the pick of the goods is a big help to the client in India. He needs to set an enormous bureaucratic machinery in motion and can face delays with processes, over which he may not have any control.

It is very important to send very clear copies of the way bill, commercial invoices, packing lists and if needed the certificate of origin, well in advance. The Indian customs demand that the documents to the consignment arriving be advised to the customs office, at the airport of destination, 24 hours in advance. That means 24 hours before the consignment lands in India (Indian time)

Please avoid short shipments to India! An amendment to the consignment advice sent to Indian customs can be time-consuming and will incur penalties.

Three to four days for customs clearance is quite possible, in India. The amount of imports arriving in India is huge and the Indian customs authorities need time to manage the processing as the regulations are quite vast and complicated.

Companies in India are permitted to import only if they are in possession of the so-called IEC or Import Export Code. The Indian importer has to pass on this code to the freight forwarder to help him with the import clearance

Companies in India please note: Please pass on to the shipper, in Germany, the contact details of at least two persons in India, so that the freight forwarder at the airport of destination can despatch the incoming documents without delay. This will help speed up the import clearance. If you are using a broker of your own, please convey the details to the Indian freight forwarder who will receive the goods from abroad. It is a very good practice to give the shipper these details. The shipper can be instructed to pass on this information to the German freight forwarder, so that the details can be printed either on the air way bill or mentioned in the communication going to the partner forwarder in India.

Letters of Credit: Attention Indian Importers

Please communicate with the German shipper in advance and clarify three important details:

  • German Airport of Departure
  • Indian Airport of Destination
  • Transshipment

A transshipment may be necessary if no direct flights to the airport of destination is possible. For example a direct flight from Frankfurt am Main, Germany, to Nasik, Maharashtra state, is not possible, as no airline operates a flight to there. Another example is, the airline Emirates, whose flight first lands in Dubai. The consignments to Mumbai, India, will be offloaded and transferred to another aircraft that continues to Mumbai as the end destination.

Description and nature of goods are to be kept within reasonable limits. An air way bill has only a limited space and the freight forwarder has to process quite a lot of freight in a given day. The workload per head in Germany is more than the one in India. Hence, mutual understanding will make the day lighter.


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Air Freight Cost : The Costs Involved in Flying Goods?

Introduction To Air Freight Cost Factors

Air freight is expensive. There is no second opinion to that statement. Expensive is not the only adjective that can be applied to this mode of transport, quick is another term that can be aptly used. Air freight cost factors are quite a few.

In a fast moving economy, helping the freight to reach the consignee is not the only point to be kept in view. It is equally important not to lose sight of the costs involved.

Transport, handling, documentation, customs formalities are all points that belong to the costing area.

Factors To Consider

Before starting to evaluate air freight cost, it is important to consider a few other important points. How urgent is the order? This is the first question to answer. Any delay in transit might result in your losing your client. Time and urgency are two inter-dependent factors. When it comes to  air freight and speed, do not compromise on quality. Many think, losing one customer is not going to ruin a business. The truth is, every single customer is important. Before we go on to the air freight calculation process, let us consider a few points

  • Time bound delivery stipulated?
  • First order from the client?
  • Size of the freight


Calculation: Air Freight Elements


Air freight rates are charged on the space occupied by the cargo. The volume is calculated in meters by multiplying the length, width and the height. The result is then multiplied by 166.6666 (do not round off this figure). After the multiplication, the result is either

  • kept as it is (e.g. 125.00 is kept unchanged)
  • or rounded up to the next 500 kg (125.6 will become 126.00 )
  • decimal figure less than 500 g is rounded up to 500g (125.4 becomes 125.00)

Gross Weight

This is the total weight of your consignment in kg. It includes the packaging material, as well. Nett weight is not considered in air freight. In Germany, it is of importance only for the export declaration. The nett weight is posted to the national statistics office. Some of the surcharges in air freight billing used to be charged on gross weight. Many airlines have changed this practice and the charges are now levied on what is called chargeable weight.

Chargeable Weight

Chargeable weight is the weight on which air freight rate or even other rates may be applied. The gross weight and the volume weight are compared and the higher one is taken as the chargeable weight. Here are a few examples.

Gross WeightVolume WeightChargeable Weight

Air Freight Rate

As mentioned earlier, air freight rate is levied on the chargeable weight of the cargo. If the consignment is flying on an IATA Air Way Bill (a way bill, not covered by a master way bill, the seller is the consignor/shipper and the importer is the consignee), the rate shown is a very high one. This rate is printed as per the IATA price table, which is included in the TACT book. It is a rate that is, usually, not used for billing.

If the consignee is paying for the air freight, it is better to  fly the freight under consolidation or as what is called “back-to-back” (it means one House Bill covered by one Master Bill. The Master Bill is addressed  to an air freight agent).

Standard Airline Surcharges

  • The standard surcharges are as follows:
  • Fuel Surcharge
  • Security Surcharge (also called Risk Surcharge or War Risk Surcharge)
  • AMS Surcharge (Automated Manifest Service)
  • Screening Surcharge (or X-Ray Surcharge) applicable, usually, only if the shipper is classified as unknown shipper and only applicable if forwarder asks the airline to do the screening.
  • Dangerous Goods Surcharge: differs from airline to airline. Applicable only if the cargo is classified as hazardous

Pre-Export Charges

It is difficult to list all the air freight extra charges here as forwarders have their own tariffs and tables. A few of the relevant ones are as below

Export Declaration: depends on country of export. In Germany the practice is to charge a fixed amount for a a declaration with one HS Code and an add on rate per each extra HS Code.

Pick up : the rate is usually applied to chargeable weight (see above). air freight volume calculations apply for lorry transport.

Haulage : freight is not flying from the airport, where the forwarder is located. Hence, it needs to be transferred by lorry to the airport of departure.

Screening charge or X-Ray charge : each forwarder has his own tariff. Security regulations for air freight are very strict

Handling : The freight has to be stored in the warehouse, checked, labelled and tendered to the airline. Usually a single price and not a per kilo price

Repackaging : if there is visible damage to the packaging, the warehouse staff have to “better” that to avoid rejection by the airline

Customs Inspection: Authorities have the right to inspect the contents. There is a customs receipt for the amount but it takes at least two weeks time for it to arrive at the forwarder’s desk.

Before Requesting A Quotation

Incoterms: Terms of Sale. Request only charges that you are going to pay! If you are paying all the charges up to the airport of destination, then ask for all the charges with breakdown. If you are paying for door delivery without customs clearance, please specify. The air freight agent has to request the charges from abroad.

Number of pieces in accordance with the Export Declaration

Dimensions and total gross weight : Dimensions are to be rounded off. mention ONLY the total gross weight

Location of the freight: pick up charges are calculated as per the distance

Deadline : if any. The forwarder has to know if a dedicated transport has to be organised

Date and Time : Please specify  when the freight is available for pick up. Also specify the time frame. Regular pick up timings need to be requested

Is the freight stackable?! This is important. If the freight is not stackable, the charges are going to increase (using more room)


It is advisable to ask for a quotation, if  the consignment is a large one.

Quotations for door delivery are tentative prices. Currency exchange factors will influence the final price. Please request prices in foreign currency!


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Packaging in International Freight Forwarding (Air Freight): Filling Materials

International Air Freight Consultant

One of my articles, posted here, already discussed packaging. The central theme of that article was wood used as packaging and filling material. A further article may be necessary to explain the terms mentioned there viz. IPPC and ISPM 15.

In this article, I shall draw your attention to a filling material, which is used quite often i.e. styrofoam chips.

Apart from large machines and machinery parts that are transported on the international trade lanes, smaller electronic and fragile goods are also moved by air, sea or road. Obviously, each of these modes of transport requires individual standards of packaging, as the risks vary in their form.

Irrespective of the mode of transport used, one common factor is the haulage. Before a freight can be put on board a ship or an aeroplane, a lorry is required to transport that cargo to the place of loading.

The second factor that plays a generally ignored role is vibration. Vibration transmitted from the vehicle to the freight will, inadvertently, affect the content. One should not forget that a freight will be subject to various movements during transit and any form of movement will have a direct impact on the content within the packaging.

The general scenario of movements

  • Fork-lift
  • Pallet jacks
  • Tail lift
  • Engine vibration transmitted through the body of the lorry
  • Movements during loading the freight on a ULD ( fork-lift )
  • Movement via loading equipment during transfer into the aircraft
  • Take off, landing and in-flight vibration

Movements arising out of all the above factors are influencing the contents without our noticing it. Providing protection to the contents must take all these forms of influence into consideration.

This is where the so-called styrofoam chips need to be looked at in a fully different light. Chips, being loose pieces, will move because of the vibration they receive. The chips are set in (almost) continual motion which releases the air that is trapped between the gaps. This will change the density of the structure of filling material, because as the air escapes, the chips will resettle into a new formation.

The chips from the top will move gradually down, exposing the top of the contents. thus leaving that part of the freight without any protection. This will mean that the padding that was available at the top area of the freight will vanish exposing the contents to risks from external sources. Since cartons do not have a big resistance, the absence of any padding beneath will cause the shocks of an impact to be transmitted directly to the contents.

If the filling is not done well, the chips on the sides, too, will settle down, exposing the flanks of the freight. Any lateral shock will thus be passed over to the pieces inside. No external damage may be visible. Any form of damage will be brought to light only after the contents are taken out of the packaging. Advice: It is better to avoid chips and use styrofoam blocks.

Professional help in right packaging can help prevent damage to consignments. My suggestions and views come from my experience. I have helped my clients. The term packaging might sound innocent, but a damage due to wrong packaging will result in unnecessary losses and problems. Need help? Write me an email:

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Air Freight – To Consolidate or not?

International Air Freight Consultant


Almost every importer has faced the situation, mentioned in the title, and many took a decision without thinking much about the term consolidation and/or how it functions.

Economy moves fast and every company needs to keep pace with its high-speed. As technology grows, so do the demands. Especially in the field of manufacturing, the supply of goods, be it machinery or machinery parts, be it packaging parts or tools for production, everything must be available within the shortest possible time.

Understanding Air Freight Price

Many companies do not even have a warehousing system, because goods in the warehouse  are considered dead capital. These companies wish their orders to be delivered “just in time” (that is how the process is called) ,directly to the production line. This way of  managing the figures may have its positive sides. However, there are innumerable factors that cannot be ascertained in advance. Unforeseeable points are the hidden risk here and they can really hurt.

Moving goods across the continents by sea is cheap. However, the strongest argument against this mode of transportation is the time taken.Ecologically speaking sea freight is a better solution. However, many companies cannot afford to wait that long to get their orders. Economy and Ecology become conflicting factors.

The air freight price is not a merely the question of weight . The volume of the consignment will be taken into consideration. The customer is paying for the amount of room the freight takes.  If the volume is greater than the total weight, the former will be used to calculate the air freight price. Cubic meter is the unit used in calculating volumes and the way to determine this is to multiply the  length, width and the height of the goods  (meters). The result is then multiplied by 166.6666 (it is better not to round off the figure) .

Example: if your consignment of 75 Kg  measures 1.2 x 0.8 x 0.80 meters, the volume = 1.2 x 0.8 x 0.8 = 0.768 cubic meters.  0.768 x 166.666=  127.99. As per the IATA (International Air Transport Association) rules, the figure will be rounded up to the next 500 gm, resulting in 128. This is the volume weight of your consignment. Between the gross weight and the volume weight, the higher figure will be used for calculating the air freight price. Assuming the consignment had a total gross weight of 130 Kg, the price will be based on 130 Kg.

Understanding Direct Consignments

A direct consignment is one that is addressed directly to the consignee and the air freight agent (freight forwarder) forwarding the goods is not involved directly with the consignee. The company from which you bought your product becomes the consignor (also called shipper) and you are mentioned on the air way bill as the consignee.The freight is tendered to the airline, immediately after the final export customs clearance is through.  The air way bill which accompanies the consignment is called an IATA air way bill. The freight forwarder is the authorised identity entrusted with flying the cargo.  He will  tender the consignment to the airline after the final export customs clearance and his task ends there. The consignee has to find a broker to interact with the airline to get the freight cleared.

Understanding Consolidation

Consignments going to the same destination but from various shippers are booked under one master air way bill and each Shipper is provided with  a house air way bill. The freight forwarder can negotiate a better air freight rate, which will give each shipper or the consignee the opportunity go enjoy a better and cheaper price in comparison to direct consignments. The cost of the air freight is distributed over several consignments, which results in keeping the rate down.  Consolidations are usually booked to leave on the weekends. Depending on the amount of business, a freight forwarder will set up bookings for the middle of the week.


The master air way bill is almost always addressed to a freight forwarder at the airport of destination. It is his job to split the consolidated cargo into its individual units. This deconsolidation is carried out in a bonded warehouse at the airport of  arrival. Here again the handling charges at the airport is distributed over a large number of freight, thus effectively reducing individual prices. The  deconsolidation takes a bit of time and is not suitable for emergency freight.

Consolidate Or Not

Considering the above facts, one can say, if your consignment is not very urgent, a consolidation is advisable. It will save you a lot of money. However, please note, not every forwarder may fly a consolidation to the particular airport a customer has in mind.



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Air Freight Questions: I Bought A Car in Germany! How To Export?

International Air Freight Consultant

You came to Germany on a holiday and fell in love with a car and cannot part with it! What is the solution? Export the vehicle using air freight mode! This is inseparably connected with red tape and papers are needed. A customs inspection is inevitable.

You need a freight forwarder who can handle the export. However, before you approach an air freight agent, follow the steps below.

Two important factors should be examined before thinking further.

  1. What is the total value of the car? This will be mentioned  in your commercial invoice
  2. What is the total weight of the car?

If the total value of the car is below 1000 EUR and the weight of the car is less than 1000 Kg, an export declaration is not required. The commercial invoice can be presented as the export document. This is officially called the verbal customs declaration.  In all the other cases an export declaration is mandatory. The European Economic Council regulation 2454/93 stipulates this in article 787. This outlines and defines the provision for implementing the regulation 2913/92. If you are  interested  the details, you can read the lengthy document  here. See page 328

Here is a list for you. This not complete but it will give you a rough idea of what you have to do before successfully exporting your car. Air freight is not as complicated as people think.

Ask for a commercial invoice stating the details of the car (Petrol, diesel, chassis number, weight etc.)

Get an Export Licence Plate from the vehicle registration office. Your dealer should guide you

See that you have the international vehicle certificate

Get the weight and dimension of the vehicle. The freight forwarder cannot do anything without these two factors

The tank should be emptied completely and may not contain any fuel

Do not be surprised: A vehicle is classified under DGR (Dangerous Goods Regulations) as Class 9 and a dangerous goods statement called Shipper’s Declaration is necessary. A freight forwarder can get this done through a certified company. Dangerous Goods Regulations in air freight are very strict and paying attention to details will save you a delays and cost.

The freight forwarder will need the commercial invoice and papers of the car to send an electronic export declaration to the customs office

The freight forwarding company will be in able to tell you about further steps : customs inspection, transportation to airport etc.

A copy of  the Shipper’s Declaration will be and must be visibly affixed on the outside of the car. This must be done before the vehicle is delivered to the airline.

The freight forwarder will send the Export Declaration electronically to the airport customs office as the last step in the export process.

There will be a delay of a minimum of 30 minutes for the customs to return the Export Declaration.  This document will now carry a watermark showing export confirmation. This is for the shipper’s files as he must present it to the income tax department as part of his annual tax returns.

When the vehicle is delivered to the airline, the air way bill is tendered with it and you can demand a copy of the House Bill, if the master bill is consigned to a freight agent at the airport of destination. If there is no agent involved and the way bill is addressed directly to you as consignee, it is called an IATA air way bill.

Email all the documents including the air way bill to your broker, at the airport of destination,  for customs clearance.

Remember: The airline reserves the right to fly your consignment on a flight other than the booked one.

If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch

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Air freight: German Export Declaration

International Air Freight Consultant

Exports from Germany is, as anywhere else in the world, controlled by the federal customs authority. The local customs office and the one at the airport of departure are the two offices that will, usually, be involved in pre-export formalities.An invoice amount of 1000 EUR or more will mean that an export declaration is mandatory.

The standard procedure for getting an export declaration will involve the following

The Harmonised Customs Tariff Code: The eight digit code as per the harmonised system of tariffs.

The net weight of  each item classified.

The total statistical value of each classified item. This will depend on the terms of sale. In general statistical value equals the “FOB value” (within the European borders).

If the terms are DAP or DDP all the charges beyond the European borders need to be deducted from the invoice amount to get the statistical value of the goods.

If the terms are EXW, named place, then the charges up to the European border must be added to the invoice value

The above statement applies, if the terms are FCA, factory facility

The total number of packages and the total gross weight.

The type of packaging used (carton, pallet, crate etc.).

The total gross weight of the consignment.

If several cartons are mounted on a pallet, the number of cartons need to be mentioned in the declaration to customs.

The total invoice value. (No VAT is applied to exports)

It is the duty of the shipper to know, whether there is any form of restriction on the goods! While checking the Electronic Customs Tariff System, please look for any restrictions applied. Example: is the equipment or part of it mentioned in the Dual Use List of the Council Regulation EC 428/2009? If this is the case, the shipper must get in touch with the Federal Office of Economics and Export Control BAFA and follow the procedures.

If an export permit is required, apply for it and wait until the original is on hand. The reference number and date will need to be mentioned in the export declaration to customs. The customs can demand the original document be submitted for inspection. In such a case, the commercial invoice must go with the permit.

The Export Permit will NOT accompany the goods abroad. It is to be filed safely.

There are two ways to get the Export Declaration:

1.  Send the electronic export declaration to  the local customs office and await the electronic reply from there. The reply will be the MRN (Movement Reference Number).  Despatch the goods along with all the papers (commercial invoice, packing list, Export Permit, if any) AND the  MRN. The customs office will release the electronic export declaration to the applicant, after the goods and the papers are inspected. If the application is rejected, the reason will be provided in the electronic reply. Once the declaration is released, the applicant will receive the document as an electronic file (PDF) . The printed document must carry the bar code. If the bar code is not printed in the right format the fond code128 is to be installed and the document printed again. Th bar code is important only, if the export goods need to cross the European border by lorry, as the border customs office needs to scan the document electronically.

2. The second way is to send a declaration to the shipper’s local customs office 24 hours in advance (within the working hours time frame and two hours before the official closing time). The goods will stay at the shipper’s facility, who must give the customs officers a minimum of two hours for inspection, any time after 07:30 a.m. After the two hours time limit is through, the customs office will release the export declaration.

German Air Freight Trade : Exporting From Germany

german air freight trade

German Air Freight Trade Scenario In Short

German air freight trade is a booming sector. Of the 15.2 million tonnes of air freight that was carried through the EU, in 2016, 4.5 million tonnes were processed through German airports. (Source: EUROSTAT ) German export  is dominated by engineering goods. The first three positions are as follows (figures for April 2018). (Source: Global Edge)

  • Motor vehicles and parts
  • Industrial Machinery
  • Electrical Machinery

Germany is home to some of the largest airports handling tonnes of freight volume everyday. The freight segments of some of these airports have seen continued positive momentum in the first quarter of 2017 (Source : The Stat Trade Times :

Germany, an export driven market, with the main products being industrial goods and services. Germany is known for its machines, which enjoy a very high-profile on the world market. Since roughly 46.1% of the German GDP is made up of exports (goods and services) (source: World Bank ), it will be very helpful for you to know the procedures involved in exporting from Germany, if you are sourcing your goods from there. Air freight export is a highly developed mode of foreign trade and is evolving at a fast pace, adjusting to the modern developments.

Ocean and air freight forwarder for Germany Canada trade lane …

For over 35 years, we have offered industry leading ocean and air freight services, including four import services from Germany (weekly ocean consolidations, …

Satisfaction is the most important success factor in any business. Air freight export is no exception to this rule. As a supplier of goods, you need to be able to deliver your wares on time and to do that, you need to receive your own supplies punctually. If you are not armed with the right information, it will be difficult for you to keep to your schedule.

german air freight trade

Your broker takes care of the importing procedures on the home front. However, he is responsible for the procedures that happen after the arrival of the goods. Exporting from Germany is a straightforward process but you will save yourself a lot of trouble, if you know how that works here. You need to arm yourself with the following information. Once you roughly know the German air freight trade process, you have won half the battle.

Freight transport statistics – Statistics Explained

Jun 14, 2018 29 % of EU air freight was carried through German airports in 2016. … The rapid increase in global trade and the deepening integration of an …

This article concentrates on the export side of the German air freight trade. The import part is dealt with  in a separate article.

VAT or no VAT?
German air freight export or rather export in general  is exempted from VAT, be it air freight export or sea freight or export by land. As long as the destination is not to a member of the European Economic Country, there is no VAT applicable and many companies note it on their commercial invoices.

Civil Aviation Authority Regulation: Known or Unknown Shipper
Is the shipper a Known Shipper? If not, an x-ray screening will be necessary. That will add to the cost. There is no fixed tariff as each forwarder has his own listing. Air freight export procedures are never complete without the mandatory safety measures. There is no work around to be free from the stringent regulations in place.

Not all goods can be successfully screened by x-ray. High density goods will result in what is called “black alarm” or a “dark alarm”. The material is too dense for the x-rays to penetrate. This will result in a mandatory test called ETD (Explosive Trace Detection). This is a mandatory procedure. Read more about ETD on Aviation Security International

Economic Benefits from Air Transport in Germany

Air transport to, from and within Germany creates three distinct types of … share of exports in total merchandise trade, German shippers receive over half of this …

The German air freight export is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority known as Luftfahrtbundesamt (LBA in short). The rules and regulations set forth by this authority are binding not only on the airlines but also on shippers, freight forwarders, warehousing facilities and transport companies.

The question you need to ask is:

Is my supplier (shipper on air waybill) a known or unknown consignor? If the shipper is a known consignor (registered with the Civil Aviation Authority) then no screening is required, If he is an “unknown consignor” (not registered as one with the Civil Aviation Authority), then a screening is mandatory. The consignment is, in the latter case, called “not secured consignment”  and must undergo a screening.


If the consignment is of high density (too dense for x-ray to go through), the x-ray machine will generate, as mentioned above,  an alarm called “black alarm” . In such a case the consignment has to opened and the contents will undergo explosive trace detection. Such a measure will, obviously cause delays and charges.

air freight export

Air Freight Export Security Measures

German air freight trade on the export side is subject to mandatory security regulations. Generally called screening, the measures can be x-ray or ETD. The latter is done when the consignment is too dense for the x-rays to go through.

X-ray machines have limitations of weight and dimension. When a consignment is too heavy (usually more than 2200 kg or 2500 kg), ETD  will need to be done. The packaging is opened for the screening and then closed.

Export Procedures before pick up
If the commercial invoice value is 1000 EUR or more an Export Declaration called ABD is a must. It is a document (PDF file) with a bar code on the top right. The document is, as a rule, NOT sent out of the country

If the invoice value is below 1000 EUR, the commercial invoice is the paper used for export and must be presented to the customs, preferably in the original, at the airport.

Remember: As a rule, Export Declaration procedure cannot be done once the freight has been picked up from the shipper’s facility! An advance electronic application is sent to the shipper’s local customs office to get the declaration. The goods, to which this document is bound, must be physically present in the shipper’s warehouse or facility. The local customs office is determined by the geographical location of the goods and not by where the exporter is located. Be it air freight export or sea freight export, an export declaration is necessary, when the value on the commercial invoice is 1000 EUR or above.

Pick up
Pick up can be organised only after the Export Declaration has been done. If the commercial invoice value is below 1000 EUR, an export declaration is not necessary.
Freight forwarders have a time frame for pick up. It is usually 8 a.m to 5 p.m and the freight arrives in the warehouse usually late in the evening.

Special Regulation Iran
Although the German air freight trade is a growing sector there are a few restrictive measures due to various reasons. Exporting from Germany to Iran is governed by a special law. Even if the value is below the above mentioned amount, an Export Declaration is mandatory.

Customs Registration or EORI Number: Pre-export formality
Only companies that have a Customs Registration Number called EORI (Economic Operators’ Registration and Identification Number) number can export. It is the task of the exporter to get this registration done and there are no charges involved. If the company has not done this, the management should follow the instructions given on the website of the German customs and send a fax to the office of the registration. The transmission journal can be used as a proof of having applied. This proof is to be sent to the local customs office file submitting the application for export declaration.

Shippers are usually registered and, hence, most of the business houses will have the EORI number. Imports into Germany cannot be processed without the above number. If you are exporting to Germany, remember to make your consignee’s EORI number known to your freight forwarder or ask the shipper to inform you. If your freight forwarder’s partner in Germany is doing the customs clearance, he cannot do the processing without this number.

Packaging Material
One most important factor you need to know, before getting the goods picked up, is about packaging. Your shipper will usually know this. If the packaging is made of wood, it is mandatory that it is made of treated wood. Make sure the shipper uses wood that carries the IPPC logo. If no wood is used this point does not arise. In air freight export mode, no openings, slits etc. are permitted in the packaging. All slits and any form of openings must be be closed (secured).

Try to keep the dimensions to a maximum of 120 x 80 x 160 cm (L x W x H in cm) for long haul flights. Short haul flights may be smaller aircraft and it is better to keep the weight to less than 150 Kg per piece and the height to a maximum of 70 cm. This is the case for small consignments.

Freighter Service
When it comes to large machines, remember not many airlines fly a 747 freighter. MD11 is now the most popular aircraft in use and  has a hight limitation of 244 cm. This includes the air freight pallet (also called ULD) under the freight! It is difficult to say anything about the width and length, but it is advisable to keep the width to less than 250 cm.

Flying: Direct or Consolidation
Direct service will have an air way bill addressed directly to you as consignee. You need to have a broker on hand, who can do a customs clearance for you.

When consolidated, your freight is forwarded under a sub way bill, called House Bill (HB) or House Air Way Bill (HAWB). Such a document will be covered by a Master Air Way Bill. The house bill will be addressed to you (the consignee) and the MAWB to the de-consolidator, who is an air freight agent at destination.

The de-consolidator has to pass on the documents (air way bill and commercial invoice and packing list if any) to your broker for customs clearance. He will enlighten you on the procedures to follow. If you are in the US, either a Single Entry Bond or a Continuous Bond is needed before any clearance can start. Your broker will help you with these formalities.

Continue reading “German Air Freight Trade : Exporting From Germany”

Air Freight: International Roadshow And Exhibition Logistics

International Air Freight Consultant

When you plan your own exhibition in a foreign country, you know, you cannot avoid planning the logistical side to it. Here is how you go about it.

Host country

  1. Does your host country accept ATA Carnet as customs document for entry and exit?
  2. Do you have a commercial invoice as a back up (ATA Carnet does not need one, yet it is safe to have one signed in blue ink and stamped. Date? Letterhead?)
  3. Using a commercial invoice? Please include the country of origin of your items
  4. Does the exhibition venue have a storage facility?
  5. Is the storage facility safe (locks, security personnel)?
  6. Has the venue facility got logistic equipment such as pallet jacks, fork-lift etc?
  7. Is the storage facility close enough for you to move your equipment into the hall?
  8. Flooring: you will need padding to use pallet jacks to move equipment, if the floor is polished or of marble or any other material that can suffer damage.
  9. Public holidays taken into consideration?
  10. Entry and exit time limits for lorries in the city?
  11. Road limitations: road width, turning radius etc
  12. ATA Carnet MUST list all items. A customs inspection is possible.
  13. If you use a commercial invoice, please keep it as short as possible. Customs Authorities do not have the time to sit back and read through a commercial invoice consisting of eight or ten pages.
  14. Sign your documents in BLUE ink, please.
  15. All documents in English, please!


  1. Is your packaging airworthy?
  2. If packaging materials (including dunnage) out of wood? If yes: do they carry IPPC logo, visible clearly, for inspection?
  3. Better use styrofoam blocks and sheets instead of chips
  4. Packaging on pallets for fork-lifts and pallet-jacks to move easily
  5. Number the pieces. Have a list of what items are in what. Keyword: Customs
  6. NO food items in packages!!
  7. Keep the height of the packages to below 160 cm if possible.


  1. Road conditions in the host country
  2. Loading equipment available? Advance booking or organising?
  3. Lorries with tail-lifts?
  4. Who will receive  goods at the venue?
  5. Does your freight forwarding agent have a secure warehouse facility?
  6. Can the freight forwarder in the host country transfer the goods after the customs clearance, into his own warehouse?
  7. Is the airline chosen a safe and trustworthy one?
  8. Even if expensive, ask for a dedicated transportation both haulage and air freight


  1. Has the venue facility got a loading ramp?
  2. Does the venue have a delivery/pick up time frame?
  3. Is the venue approachable, if articulated lorries are being used?


  1. socket adapters?
  2. Surge arrester?
  3. Power cut! Has the venue got a generator?
  4. Multimeter : voltage differences (especially for US exhibitors). Prevention is better than cure!

Equipment in general

  1. safe packaging to prevent shock resistance
  2. Serial numbers on equipment MUST be visible and very clear
  3. Items, which cannot be easily identified by customs must me photographed to show clearly their nature. Customs authorities can be difficult. It is their job to see what comes in and what goes out
  4. Does the host country have any List of Restricted Items?

Safety List

  1. Excellent copies of your travel documents.
  2. Excellent digital copies of your travel documents accessible via email or website.
  3. Emergency numbers: Police, Fire Force, ambulance, also numbers to call if your credit card gets lost.
  4. Excellent copies of your customs documents both as hard copies and as digital copies that you can get access to electronically.
  5. Contact number of your embassy or consulate.
  6. Contact number of your freight forwarding partner. Always a minimum of two.


Most important

Have you got enough time to manage everything: pick up, haulage, customs clearance, x-ray screening, delivery to the site, night transportation etc.

Remember: Customs Authorities are not concerned with your time schedule, their job is to check the legalities of your equipment, entry and exit.

Do NOT lose your customs document, especially the ATA Carnet!

Have you taken an insurance cover?


Last but not the least

If you feel dizzy reading all that, you know what to do: get in touch with me.

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