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Category Archives: Freight Forwarder Experience

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


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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


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Shipping to the UK

Shipping to the UK can be a relatively straight forward experience as long as you follow a set of golden rules:

Make enquiries before you commit to buying goods

There are a few things that you need to make sure you know before buying goods overseas to ship to the UK.  Firstly it is a good idea to make preliminary enquiries with a UK shipping agent (like Mercator) who will be able to assist you with the rate of UK import VAT/duty that is applicable (if any).  The rate will depend on a few factors including country of origin and the nature of the goods.  This is cost that you should take into account when shipping goods to the UK.

Make sure you understand your buying terms

It is important that you understand your buying terms with your supplier.  Incoterms are a set of rules which set out the responsibilities of the buyer and the seller when it comes to international trade and shipping.  The most commonly used terms are DAP ‘Delivered at Place’; FOB ‘Free on Board’ and DDP ‘Delivered Duty Paid’.  You’ll need to factor in this when working out your sums: for example, if you are buying EXW ‘Ex Works’ where the buyer is pretty much responsible for the whole shipping including pick up, sea/air freight, customs clearance and local duties etc, there will be costs to pay on top of just buying your goods. Compare this with buying DDP ‘Delivered Duty Paid’ where the seller covers the majority of the shipping costs.

If you are new to international trade, then it is worth discussing this with your nominated shipping agent, who will be able to assist you.  Our team at Mercator have a great deal of experience with import shipping to the UK and different Incoterms, so do get in touch for assistance (+44 2392 756 575).

Appoint a reputable UK freight agent

Appointing a freight agent in the UK (such as Mercator) will save you a lot of headaches.  They can handle any aspect of your shipment to the UK that you want them to handle.  Mercator’s services include all elements of shipping from collection at your goods origin, through sea/air freight to the UK, UK customs clearance, payments to HMRC for VAT/Duty and delivery to your door in the UK.

If you have a shipping consignment for the UK then do not hesitate to get in touch.  We have over 20 years’ experience in the industry.  We are members of the UK’s freight forwarding trade association which means we have certain regulations and conditions of trade we have to adhere to which protects our customers.  We are also founding members of a worldwide shipping agent network, with members in over 90 countries.  Our membership allows us personal contacts across the globe and valuable local knowledge in your goods origin country (this can be from local export customs, through to arranging a pick-up overseas and delivery to the port of departure).

If you would like to make a start on your shipping consignment to the UK, then do get in touch, one of our import shipping team will be happy to assist and get the ball rolling, or call +44 2392 756 575


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Shipping Vehicles to New Zealand & Australia

Shipping vehicles, in particular cars, to New Zealand and Australia has become a popular option for those who are emigrating to Australasia.  If you are moving to Australia or New Zealand then shipping your car out there is a good option for a number of reasons:

Buying cars in Australia and New Zealand is an expensive business
In fact, just selling a second hand car in the UK and re-buying can be a headache and you can lose money.  Some of our customers shipping their cars to New Zealand and Australia have chosen to export their cars for this reason.

They drive on the left hand side of the road
Your right-hand drive car will fit in perfectly in Australasia where they drive on the left.

Shipping your car to New Zealand or Australia is not as complicated as you might think
As long as you appoint a reputable freight forwarder who has experience, and also very importantly contacts in Australia and New Zealand, then the process of shipping your car will be relatively simple for you.  Let the experts do the work.

Shipping your car to Australia or New Zealand is not as expensive as you might think
9 times out of 10 these shippers will also be able to do it for a better price than if you were to go direct to a carrier – this is because they have the contacts and relationships to get the best prices.  If you let the experts handle the bulk of the work, because of their knowledge and experience, they know all the pitfalls and the mistakes that are easily made (which cost money) and so know how to avoid them.

A big part of Mercator’s trade is vehicle shipping across the globe.  We have reputable contacts who we talk to regularly in Australia and New Zealand, thanks to our founding membership of the global shipping network MarcoPoloLine.  With our knowledge and contacts you can feel comfortable in the knowledge that your car is in safe hands where ever it goes.

If you would like to discuss shipping your car to New Zealand or Australia, then please contact us either on +44 2392 756 575, or email  We will be happy to discuss your car shipping requirements.


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How do I Export for the First Time?

A recent survey compiled by the British Chamber of Commerce suggests that some UK businesses are holding back from exporting their goods and services overseas.

The Chamber reports that less than half companies surveyed (total of 4,700) had plans to expand internationally.  There have been calls for further support and advice for those UK companies who have potential to export from the UK in order to strengthen the UK’s economy and become a leading export nation.

In order to export successfully knowledge is required, not just of protocols from the UK, but the requirements in other countries.  This is where appointing a well-established and trust-worthy freight forwarder could be the perfect solution to lack of experience and confidence.

A decent freight forwarder should be able to provide you with as much ‘hand holding’ as you require, will be up-to-date with world markets and protocols, and will have a strong network across the globe.

Appointing a freight forwarder will be an important decision for your company as you will work closely on some important business.  You will need to make sure that you work well together, by starting a dialogue early on, you will be able to get to know your forwarder and ascertain whether their promptness, knowledge and experience suits your business needs.

Mercator is a UK based freight forwarding company, proud to offer a personal service for our customers no matter how large or small.  We were founded in 1991, so are well-established in the market with good contacts within the major shipping lines and UK-based hauliers.

We are founding members of the international network of freight forwarders MPL (Marco Polo Line) which gives us personal contacts across the globe.  These contacts allow us to deliver and collect locally in a number of different countries, including clearing exports through local customs.

If you are actively looking for a professional to assist you with exporting (or importing) for the first time, then do feel free to call us.  Your enquiry will be passed to George, our Export Manager.  You can call 02392 756 575 or email


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Freight Forwarding – Containerised Shipping to Egypt from the UK

We were recently tasked with shipping a rib from Hamble in Hampshire to Egypt.   Our customer had bought the boat a few months previously but was struggling to find a freight forwarder who offered a sensible solution to the shipping task.

When the customer approached our export department, we suggested loading the rib into a 40 foot container, this would ensure that the cargo was safe and secure in transit, and provides an easy onward forwarding solution once the container arrived in Egypt.

Other freight forwarders that our customer had spoken to had suggested shipping the cargo from Felixstowe or London Gateway.  As the customer was located in Hampshire, the best, most cost effective way to transport the container was via the Southampton port.  As such, we were able to save our customer money on the transportation costs, and a lot of headaches by ensuring that the boat was secured within the container.

Mercator Cargo is an independent, family-run freight forwarder based in Portsmouth.  We are big enough to cope but small enough to care.  If you are looking for a new freight forwarder then please do get in touch, even if it is for a quote comparison.

Mercator’s export team arranges shipping to Egypt regularly and are well versed in transit routes, times and customs requirements.  So if you have cargo which you wish to ship to Egypt, get in touch today with our team of experienced freight forwarders – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


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Freight Forwarding – Air Freight to South Africa from the UK

Arranging for an air freight shipment from the UK to South Africa is a relatively straight forward process.  In order to arrange air freight directly with the airlines a membership with IATA (International Air Transport Association) is required.  Mercator Cargo is a member of IATA and arranges air freight shipments on a daily basis.

If you are looking for an air freight agent to handle your shipment to South Africa, then look no further.  Mercator Cargo is an independent freight forwarder, with an expert export department, which regular shipments to South Africa.  We have a partner agent based in South Africa, so we are able to offer ‘to-door’ deliveries in South Africa.

We arrange air freight consignments for our customers, the majority comprising commercial shipments of goods for sale.

To get a quote for your air freight shipment to South Africa we will need to know the weight and dimensions of the cargo, and the nature of the goods.

There are daily air freight departures from the UK to Cape Town, Durban and Johannesberg.  Once your goods arrive in South Africa, we can ask our agent in Pretoria to customs clear and deliver the shipment for you.

To discuss our air freight services to South Africa or to get a quote for a shipment, give our export team a call today – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


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Why Choose a Family Run Freight Forwarder?

If you’re in the market to find a new freight forwarder, you might consider choosing a family-run business to work with.

Mercator Cargo was founded by Paul, our MD, in 1991.  It was a brave move to leave his job with his father and recalls his first day of business, sitting in the new office, waiting for the phone to ring.  It did ring, and that first customer is still our customer today.  This really speaks volumes about Mercator Cargo as a business.

Our ethos is simple: to provide a first class freight forwarding service to each client no matter how large or small.

Our founder, Paul, is still very much a part of the business today, after over forty years in the shipping business.  Over fifty percent of our workforce are part of Paul’s family, and we have family business values at the heart of everything we do.

We are a relatively small team, but all our freight forwarding experts have spent their entire careers in the shipping industry, teamed with Paul’s forty years experience and motto ‘there is no such thing as can’t’, we are well equipped to deal with any kind of shipping task.  Another benefit is you will be assigned a designated point of contact who will deal with all your shipping, so that you have continuity and our freight forwarder understands your business.

Paul founded the global freight forwarding network Marco Polo Line (MPL) in 2008 with three other shipping agent MDs from around the world.  MPL is a network for other small – medium independent freight forwarders like Mercator Cargo.  Criteria to become a member is strict, and all members are assessed to ensure they are trustworthy and share the same values as Mercator Cargo.  This network means that we have personal contacts in almost every country around the globe, so no matter where your cargo goes, you know it will be in safe hands.  This is an unusual benefit for an independent freight forwarder to offer (to have such a network normally, the business will be a giant multi-national corporation).

If you are looking for a reliable and experienced freight forwarder, then give us a call today to discuss how our business can work with your business – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


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Freight Forwarding – Shipping Steam Engines to the USA

As a well-established freight forwarder, Mercator Cargo has encountered some interesting cargo since operations began in 1991.

One recent shipping task we were asked to assist with was the export of four 1920’s steam engines.  Our duties included arranging the collection, loading, packing and sea freight shipping to the USA.  Due to the nature of the engines and the age, it was essential that special measures were in place to ensure that the engines were completely protected during handling and transit.  We arranged for experienced packers to put in place wooden blocks nailed to the shipping container floor, and strap the engines down to ensure their safety.

Train 1

It was essential to ensure the safe carriage and loading into the shipping container for transport by ocean freight to the USA.  It was very much a labour of love for all involved, not least the owner of the machines in the USA who has spent many long years locating these machines, and paid substantial amounts of money for them – some of them are very rare – one in particular is one of only two working models in the world.

If you have an unusual shipping request, then get in touch, our experienced team of freight forwarders enjoy a challenge – our MD’s motto is “there is no such thing as can’t”. Call us today to discuss your shipping needs – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


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Freight Forwarding – Shipping to Sydney

If you have cargo ready to be shipped to Sydney, or are speculatively looking at shipping some goods to Sydney (either for a customer order, or a personal vehicle move), then here are some things to think about:

Does your shipment need to travel by air freight or sea freight?
There are two main differences between air and sea freight, firstly there is the time difference, and secondly, the cost.  Sea freight shipping to Sydney from the UK takes around 50 days, whereas air freight is just over a day (not including handling, and customs clearance at destination).  The price for air freight is based on weight and volume, so if your shipment for Sydney is big and heavy, then it might be rather expensive via air.  If you have cargo to fill a 20 foot or 40 foot container, then you may choose to ship your goods like this.  If your cargo will not fill a full container, but you wish to ship it via sea to Sydney, then we can look at shipping it via groupage (where lots of shipments share one container).  Groupage prices are calculated by weight and volume.

Do you need your goods to be picked up in the UK?
If your goods are a small load and going via air freight, you may decide to arrange to drop them off at one of our warehouses nearby the UK airport for handling and packing.  However, if your shipment for Sydney is to fill a 40 foot container, then we can arrange for the container to come to you, and either be loaded on the back of the truck, or dropped to the floor if the loading may take a few days.  We can also arrange for labour to help pack the container if required.

Are your goods restricted for import into Australia?
As you may well know, Australia has strict customs rules about what is allowed into the country.  Even packaging needs to be considered, as if you are sending goods packed in wood, then this will need to be treated before it leaves the UK.  Give our export team a call to discuss the nature of your goods if you are concerned they may be restricted or banned, as they will either be able to advise, or find the answer for you (023 92 756 575).

Who is responsible for import taxes and delivery when your shipment arrives in Sydney?
This is only really applicable if your shipment is the sale of goods to someone in Australia.  When you arrange the sale of the goods and agreed the shipping arrangements, you will have decided who needs to pay for any import taxes and local delivery in Sydney.

Do you require marine insurance on your shipment to Sydney?
Surprisingly, marine insurance is optional.  And whilst it is not very expensive in the grand scheme of things, you may be surprised the number of people who do not insure their goods for whilst they are in transit.  Ask our freight forwarders if you require advice about whether to insure your goods.

If you are unsure of any of the answers to the above questions, then give our export team a call who will be happy to assist you and arrange your shipping to Sydney for you – Tel. 02392 756 575. Email:


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