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Category Archives: Freight Forwarder Experience

How many Pallets fit in a Shipping Container?

The answer to how many pallets fit in a container can be answered by first establishing what kind of pallets you have, and what size container they will be loaded into.

There are two standard pallet sizes known as europallets and standard pallets.  A europallet measures 1.2m x 0.8m, whereas a standard pallet is 1.2m x 1.0m.

A 20’ container is exactly that: it measures twenty foot long, and a 40’ container measures forty foot long.  Most containers will be a standard size – that is they will measure about 8 foot wide, and 8 foot 6 tall.  The only standard exception to this is a ‘high cube’ which is 9 foot 6 in height (great for tall cargo).


Europallets (1.2m x 0.8m)

11 europallets will fit into a standard 20’ container

You can get 25 europallets in a standard 40’ container


Standard pallets (1.2m x 1.0m)

You can fit 10 standard pallets in a standard 20’ container

21 standard pallets fit into a standard 40’ container


There are, however, all manner of other kind of pallets and other sizes of containers, for example palletwide (although these are usually quite rare).  Get in touch if you require further information of how many pallets fit into a container if they do not fit the standard specifications above.

If you have a shipment to arrange that is palletised, then get in touch, we can arrange for loading into a container, sea freight and clearance at destination.  Or if you have goods which you need palletising for shipment, we can also arrange for this for you.

To get in touch email our team on or give us a call +44 2392 756 575.


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Shipping an Airstream Caravan to New Zealand

Mercator was recently tasked with shipping this 1967 airstream caravan from the UK to New Zealand.  This particular consignment was requested because the caravan dealer in the UK had sold the vehicle to a customer in New Zealand.  We were approached by the dealer in this case, and dealt directly with their buyer in New Zealand to arrange the shipping.


Before the caravan was loaded onto the vessel for the sea freight journey to New Zealand, we arranged for an inspection of the caravan.  Our contact at Southampton port completed a full inspection of the caravan which included detailed photographs and illustrated drawings of the vehicle showing locations of any damage or marks that were noted.  We offer this for all our vehicle shipping consignments as it gives an audit trail of the condition of the vehicle so if there are any problems we know when they occurred.

The caravan was shipped via RORO – which is a roll-on roll-off service.  This is where the vehicle is rolled onto the vessel at origin port, and then rolled off at destination.  Most caravans are able to be containerised for transport, which is generally a cheaper option that RORO.  The risk of damage is minimised if containerised caravan shipping is selected as the vehicle does not move during transit (it’s strapped into the container and padding is added to protect corners.  On this occasion the airstream caravan was just a touch too big to fit into a container and that is why a RORO service was selected.

Sea freight from the UK to New Zealand takes around 45 days.  This vessel called at Auckland, where we asked our partner agent in New Zealand to deal with the clearance and landing of the caravan.  The customer in New Zealand was able to collect the vehicle from the port and take it home to begin their renovation works.

If you have a caravan (or motorhome, or any vehicle) that you need to arrange the shipping to New Zealand (or Australia) then get in touch with us to find out how we can help.  Our export team are well versed in shipping vehicles to New Zealand, including specific requirements and charges to clear the vehicle through customs (e.g. duty and GST), so any questions just ask! Email our team on or give us a call +44 2392 756 575.

Get a Quote for Shipping a Caravan to New Zealand


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Car Shipping from the USA to the UK

Mercator has seen an influx of requests to arrange shipping of cars (particularly classic cars) from the USA to the UK.  We were recently asked to arrange the import shipping of this interesting 1972 Mazda RX2 from Florida.

The customer in the UK requested for us to arrange the pick-up of the car onsite in Florida and the delivery of the car to the port so that it could be loaded into a container for the international shipping leg of the journey.  The local collection was possible thanks to our connections with USA agents (who are also members of MarcoPoloLine – the worldwide freight forwarding network).

The car was then shipped via sea freight over to the UK where we arranged for the customs clearance and onward delivery to the customer.

With advances in container racking and due to attempts of freight forwarders to drive down the cost of shipping, some car shipping routes have specialist car racking systems available so that up to four cars fit into one shipping container.  With the invention of this system, car shipping could not be more cost-effective by container as the total cost of the container shipping is split between four cars.  This is an extremely new idea and currently is only available on a few routes, including Australasia and most recently South Africa.

Containerised car shipping is much safer than it might sound.  All vehicles that are loaded into the container are secured with various lashing and padding around the cars so that they do not move in transit – making it a really safe shipping option.  Our car shipping service even goes as far as arranging detailed inspection of the vehicle before and after it is shipped to ensure there is no damaged made during transit.

RORO (roll-on roll-off, where the vehicle is driven directly on and off the shipping vessel) is not always necessarily the cheapest car shipping option, especially with the abilities to load multiple cars into one shipping container.  However, if you have a car that you wish to arrange the international shipping of, then do get in touch and we can discuss the options, including containerisation, RORO (roll-on roll-off) and even air freight.

American classic cars are becoming very popular and there is an increasing demand on shipping these cars to the UK for car enthusiasts.  As such, Mercator has a seamless car shipping supply chain from across the USA right through to door in the UK.  If you appoint freight forwarder Mercator to arrange your shipping, you can be relaxed knowing that your car will arrive in the UK safely and on time.

If you have a car to ship to the UK from the USA then get in touch with us for a quote.  Our import car shipping team will be more than happy to help: +44 2392 756 575 or email

Get a Quote for Car Shipping from the USA to the UK Now


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Oversized Shipping to Taiwan

Crane on Flat Rack Shipping ContainerMercator was instructed to arrange the sea freight shipping of three mobile cranes from Southampton in the UK to Taiwan.  The cargo was classed as oversized (also sometimes referred to as out of gauge cargo).  Due to the dimensions, non-standard shipping containers were used.  If oversized cargo shipping is not planned thoroughly then it can end up being very expensive.  The three cranes were loaded onto two flat rack shipping containers and one open top container.

Two of the cranes fitted into the parameters of the flat rack shipping containers after some adjusting – including removing the wing mirrors.  This small adjustment took a few minutes but saved thousands in shipping costs.  If the crane were overhanging the sides of the shipping container (even if it was just a wing mirror) then the shipper would be liable to pay for all the spaces around the container on the ship which would be unusable.  The other crane was driven into the open top container, it was such a tight squeeze that the driver had to climb out of the window as the door wouldn’t open.

We managed to get the cargo into three shipping spaces on the vessel, but if not done thoroughly then it could have been up to 6 or 7 spaces to pay for for each crane!  Therefore, it’s really important if you are going to ship something that is oversized to ensure that you choose a reputable freight forwarder who will do everything that they can in order to keep the cargo within the gauge of the container.  A good freight forwarder is worth their weight in gold.Open Top Container Shipping

To ensure that everything would go smoothly, our MD (Paul) took a trip to Southampton Port on the morning of the crane loading and strapping to ensure he was satisfied with the shipping plans.  The lashing on the cargo is important to ensure that there is no movement (and therefore avoiding damage) during the shipping process.  Each mobile crane weighed in at about 25 tonnes, therefore the lashing put in place would have been for up to 3 times the cargo weight.

Later that day, the cranes were transported to the dock side, loaded onto the shipping vessel and set sail for Taiwan.

If you have an unusual load that you need to ship internationally, then get in contact with Mercator’s shipping team.  We have over 20 years’ of experience in international freight forwarding, and thanks to our founding membership of MarcoPoloLine (a worldwide network of independent, vetted freight agents in over 90 countries) we have contacts across the globe to ensure the safe onward transit of your shipping consignment.

Request a Quote for Oversized or Out of Gauge


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Shipping to Turkey

Shipping to Turkey with Mercator is a straight forward process.  We have contacts in Turkey who we work with regularly thanks to our founding membership of MarcoPoloLine, the global shipping network.  Our contacts in Turkey can assist with your shipment once it has arrived at the port, whether you need customs clearance and onward delivery, or advice on whether the goods are suitable for import into Turkey.

Our shipping services from the UK include pick-up from your door and delivery to the port/airport, and sea/air freight to Turkey.  We can also assist with document requirements for shipping to Turkey and any duties you have as an exporter.

Shipping to Turkey can either be undertaken via sea or air freight.  If your shipment is urgent and you are able to cover the extra cost, then you might choose to ship your goods via air freight.  However, if you don’t have time constraints, then the cheaper sea freight option might be preferred.  Air freight to Turkey takes a matter of hours, but you do need to factor in a couple of days either side to allow for packing, customs and unpacking.  Whereas sea freight to Turkey can take between 10 and 20 days depending on your destination port (Istanbul is about 9 days, whereas as far round as Ismir takes up to 19 days).

Our capacity for load sizes when shipping to Turkey vary from a single pallet through to 40’ containers.  Thanks to our long-standing business relationships with the major carriers and vessel operators, we can offer our customers competitive quotations for shipping to Turkey.  Using a freight forwarder to handle your shipping to Turkey might be a cheaper option than doing it yourself!  Our knowledge and expertise are invaluable when you delve into international trade.  Don’t get your fingers burnt, it’s always best to have an expert to assist you with your shipping tasks.

Our export shipping team can assist you with obtaining a fully comprehensive quote for your shipping to Turkey, can put you in touch with our partner agent in Turkey if you need onward transport for your goods, and can offer any advice you require.  So if you’re looking to appoint a reputable freight forwarder to undertake your Turkey shipments, then get in touch +44 2392 756 575 or email

MarcoPoloLine is a worldwide network which brings together independent, vetted freight agents, providing personal contacts across the globe, local knowledge and combined experience of over 310 freight forwarding offices in over 90 countries.


Request a Quote for Shipping to Turkey


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UK Customs Clearance

Mercator is a UK based customs clearance agent.  We deal with clearing goods through UK customs on a daily basis.  Our clearance services cover all UK ports, air and sea, including customs clearance at Felixstowe, Southampton and London Gateway, and airport customs clearance at Gatwick, Heathrow and Manchester.

Our Import Team specialise in all aspects of UK import shipping.  We can handle all shipping services you require.  For example, if you need an agent to handle the pick-up of your goods in the USA, sea freight to the UK, customs clearance at the UK port and onward delivery to your door, we can help.  Likewise if you just need clearance at the UK port because the freight aspect is covered with a buying term you have agreed with your supplier, we can help.

Ideally, it is best to talk to a UK customs clearance agent even before you have bought your goods, as sometimes there are certain restrictions, or particularly heavy duty charges on some types of goods.  An example is ceramic tiles from China, there is a very steep ‘anti-dumping’ duty designed to “allow the EC to take action against goods that are sold at less than their normal value”.  So it’s a good idea to check you know there will be no nasty surprises.

Our import customs clearance team can help you calculate any VAT & duty that is payable upon arrival in the UK.  The amount of import VAT & duty depends on the nature of the goods and their value on the commercial invoice.  Most of our customers appoint us to handle their VAT & duty payments to HMRC, to allow swift clearance through customs, avoiding any high charges associated with delays.

In short, we can hold your hand through the whole process of UK importing and UK customs clearance, advising all costs and when they are payable so that you know what to pay and when.

Whether your shipment is yet to leave its destination, it is on the water, or has already arrived in the UK, our team are ready to get your customs clearance assignment started when you are.  So give us a call to discuss your customs clearance requirements +44 2392 756 575 or email us on, or please feel free to complete the form below and we’ll be in touch.


Request a Quote for UK Customs Clearance and/or onward UK Delivery


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Motorbike Shipping

Importing Motorcycles into the UK

So you’ve bought a motorbike from the USA and need to arranging the shipping for it to the UK.  Mercator can handle the whole shipping process for you.  We can assist you with arranging for the collection of the motorcycle from the vendor in the USA and get the bike packed and delivered to the port/airport.  Thanks to our founding membership of a global network of freight forwarders, we have contacts across the globe who can assist with comprehensive motorbike shipping services worldwide.

Your motorbike can either be shipped by sea freight or air freight.  The main difference between the two is time and money.  It is more cost-effective (but takes more time) to ship via sea freight.  If you are desperate for your new motorcycle then you may choose to ship it by air.  Once the motorbike has arrived in the UK, we can arrange for the clearance through UK customs and delivery to your door.

Exporting Motorbikes from the UK

If you’re a motorcycle dealer and you have an international enquiry, you might be thinking ‘how on earth do I arrange the shipping of this motorbike to Australia?’  Don’t panic and don’t write-off the prospective sale.  The team at Mercator can help you with everything you need to do from document requirements to how you need to present the motorcycle for shipping.

We have contacts across the globe, so no matter where you want to ship the motorbike to, we can call on invaluable local knowledge, including information about customs clearance and document requirements in the destination country, to make your experience of shipping motorbikes simple and stress-free.

Shipping motorcycles across the world couldn’t be simpler.  Please do get in touch with our team here to discuss your motorbike shipping requirements or call +44 2392 756 575.


Request a Quote for Motorcycle Shipping


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Shipping Cars for UK Import

Mercator handles car shipping across the globe on a regular basis.  IMG_84211
Our car import service into the UK includes any aspect as required, for example if you need a car shipped from door in South Africa to the local sea freight port, sea freight service from Durban to the port in the UK, UK customs clearance, and delivery to your door in the UK, we can handle everything.  Likewise if you just need clearance and delivery of your shipped car in the UK, we can arrange that for you.

We were recently tasked with shipping the classic car pictured above from Australia to the UK for a customer who was relocating and wanted to take their car with them.  For this particular vehicle, we arranged the shipping in a container as the car was high worth.  Our agent in Australia arranged the strapping and safe loading of the car into the container, and our warehouse in the UK unloaded and inspected the car upon customs clearance in the UK.  Other options for high worth car shipping includes arranging air freight – this is obviously more expensive and faster than shipping a car via sea freight.

For cars which are in running order, RORO (roll on roll off) might be your preferred option – this is where the car is driven on and off the shipping vessel, rather than loaded into a shipping container.  If the vehicle to be shipped is not in running order then the only option is to load it in to a container for transit.  We also offer an export car shipping service to most countries worldwide.


Get in touch to discuss our car shipping services and to get a quote: or call us on +44 2392 756 575.


Request a Quote for UK Car Import Shipping


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Shipping Caravans and Motorhomes to Australia and New Zealand

Mercator has been handling the shipment of all types of vehicles since we were founded in 1991. More recently we have been seeing an increase in vehicles being shipped to Australia and New Zealand. In particular, the trade of caravans and motorhomes between the UK and Australia & New Zealand has significantly increased.

As such the Mercator Export Team has streamlined this particular shipping route and service for our customers including:

– Dedicated caravan specialists here in the UK to lash and load the van into a container;
– Delivery to the UK port;
– Weekly sailings from the UK to Australia and New Zealand via sea freight;
– Clearance through our trusted New Zealand and Australia partners at destination.

Some motorhomes will be too large to load into a container and for those vehicles we offer a RORO option whereby the vehicle is driven onto and off the vessel (as opposed to being loaded into a container). If you have a smaller vehicle, such as a VW campervan, to be shipped to Australia or New Zealand, then you have the option of containerisation or RORO. If you choose RORO then the vehicle does need to be in running order, some of our customers prefer the containerised option as they prefer the idea of a bit more security around the vehicle.

In order to ship a vehicle there are certain restrictions that need to be adhered to, such as a limited amount of fuel in the tank, and certain paperwork does need to be present. You can discuss these with our export team who will be able to give you advice on all matters when shipping to Australia or New Zealand.

We can arrange the shipment of caravans, campers and motorhomes either for personal use (for example, temporary exports for a holiday, or if you are moving to either Australia or New Zealand) or for those in the caravan trade (for example if you have sold a motorhome to a customer in Australia, or if you have a caravan dealer in New Zealand interested in purchasing one/several of your caravans).

Do give us a call to discuss your export caravan/motorhome to Australia/New Zealand, we will be happy to assist you +44 2392 756 575 or email


Request a Quote for Caravan/Motorhome Shipping to Australia/New Zealand


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Shipping from the USA to the UK

Shipping from the USA to the UK

Mercator has recently seen an increase in import traffic of shipping from the USA to the UK.  If you have freight to ship from the USA to the UK then there are a few decisions you need to make before arranging the shipment.

The main decision is whether you want to use a sea or air freight service from the USA.  The biggest difference is, of course, time (and cost).  If you’re short on time and can afford it, then you might wish to choose air freight from the USA to the UK.  Likewise, if your consignment is of significant value or particularly delicate then air freight might be your first choice.  However, if you do not have any shipping time constraints and you want to save yourself some money, then you could choose a sea freight shipping package.  The location in the USA of your shipment will affect the sea freight shipping transit time.  Sea freight shipping times from the USA to the UK vary from anything from 7 days from New York, up to over 30 days from Los Angeles (which transits via the Panama Canal).

Mercator can tailor a bespoke freight package for your shipment from the USA to the UK.  Our UK import team can arrange all or part of the shipping for you.  For example, if you have bought a large machine just outside New York and the terms you have bought it means that you need to take care of all aspects of the shipping yourself, then our team can arrange for collection in the USA and packing into a container, transit to the New York sea port, sea freight to the UK, customs clearance in the UK, and onward delivery to your door in the UK.  If however, you have bought a car (for example) which includes all freight to the port in the UK, then our shipping team can arrange for clearance through UK customs and onward delivery to your door in the UK.

Thanks to our membership of the worldwide freight forwarding network MarcoPoloLine (MPL), we have contacts in several offices across the USA who can assist with the aspects of your shipment in the USA for you.  These contacts are tried and tested, so you can be sure that your cargo is in safe hands.

So if you have a shipment to arrange from the USA to the UK, whether it’s foodstuffs which packs onto one pallet, or a whole 40 foot shipping container, our team has the experience, knowledge and local US contacts to get your shipment from the USA to the UK on time and in budget.

Give us a call today to discuss your shipping from the USA to the UK +44 2392 756 575, or you can email on


Request a Quote for Shipping from the USA to the UK


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