International transport requires lots of papers and a container needs about 200 different documents according the showed video from Mearsk. The delay comes from running around to different offices, submitting forms and getting the approval stamp.
This is already a well known problem for everybody who travels by plane, although we don’t bother much about it. Before you can book your ticket the visa and passport has to be obtained. To get your passport and visa there are several forms to fill in. If you live abroad the amount of forms multiply.
On some terminals travelers show the passport and visa to five different people. So five waiting lines before entering the plane. Nowadays the arrival terminal is more easy to pass with only an average of four waiting lines.
Still, after all my experience of traveling I didn’t realize all the paperwork for one container. Mearsk made a video about it. Of course the example in the video is about flowers in a reefer. The reefer stops at the port and is waiting for several days before all the required documents are stamped.
Time of paper trail for person, air and sea transport
While I was living abroad I had to deal with several different kind of transports. As a person renewing of a passport and visa took 4 weeks.
I have send airfreight from Far East to Europe and it needed 5 weeks to complete departure and arrival papers, while the sea container only needed 3 weeks for its paper work.
So the paper trail of the container is almost so optimized that it can compete with airfreight from some countries.
What causes this paper trail?
From my experience I would say that in most cases we need additional time because of national regulations. If you travel by car in some countries, you will be stopped at the border of the next state. I experienced in Malaysia this a few times. Waiting in a line, wondering the first time why there is a line. Till you arrive at the gate with two people sitting behind the desk. One has to stamp that you leave state A and the next has to stamp that you enter state B. And both states are in Malaysia
Don’t get me wrong about country examples. In the Netherlands we need also a lot of stamps.
So after so many years of waiting for a stamp, it seems that the first stamp on a document is a control stamp. All other stamps on the same document is some kind of form of local tax and creating jobs.
Tax and job creation is needed in all countries. It continues the economy in that country. Export is another factor for the country’s economy.
In the video the ten different offices and the traveling between the offices is a time consumer. To my experience the waiting line,or come back to collect attitude, in each new office is another time consumer. In several countries you will see that some agencies have an waiting advantage.
Is there a Solution to reduce time?
I saw that Mearsk also posted a nice video about traveling the renewed Suez Canal. Traveling time is reduced from 18 hours to 11 hours. Egypt has optimized the canal with the hope to attract more customers and thus increasing the internal economy.
In the past we had local solutions as agencies with diners, presents and cartons. Nowadays we try to convince governments that quicker handling of international transport and their papers will eventually result in an increasing economy. At least that’s one of the pillars of the EU.