The thought of shipping all your belongings abroad (whether that’s for your business, work, travel or for study) can seem like a somewhat daunting experience, especially when it comes to entrusting the task of having all your valuable items assigned to a rather generic and unheard-of shipping company to pack and send these off to an entirely new country where different custom restrictions may apply.
If you’re having a nightmare finding a reliable, trustworthy international shipping company, we’ve got you covered. At PSS we have over 40 years of experience working in partnership with the world’s leading shipping lines so we know a thing or two about which are the best if you are moving or shipping from the UK to any location abroad.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the top UK international shipping and container shipping companies we recommend based on the quality of service, reputation, price and destination.
You may have heard of the current challenges being faced by the container shipping industry worldwide, especially with increasing shipping costs, the coronavirus pandemic and Brexit causing disruption. It makes it even more important that you selected the best accredited shipping company for your goods in 2022.
1) PSS International Removals – 1st Choice for Moving Overseas
Ok, we might be biased, but there is a good reason why PSS is regarded as the first choice for moving overseas by many in the migration and international relocation industry.
The big container shipping companies ship hundreds of thousands of shipping containers around the world every day. In fact, there are estimated to be over 15 million shipping containers in circulation worldwide.
Whilst technically you could approach them directly to help with your move, you are unlikely to get the best price or service and they only talk to you if you are regularly shipping large volumes.
A better option, therefore, is to use a Personal Shipping Company like PSS which specialises in shipping personal goods for people moving abroad. As we help thousands of people ship their belongings all over the world, we are able to negotiate the best shipping rates.
There is also much expertise required in international shipping and importing your goods into your destination country. PSS will help you with any required documentation, find the best shipping line and negotiate the best rate, pack your container at your house, take care of customs clearance and have our trusted international partners collect your shipment from the port and deliver it to your door.
This makes the whole international shipping process as stress-free as possible for you.
As a highly accredited international removals and shipping company (including BAR overseas, FIDI FAIM, and the International Association of Movers to name just a few), you can be assured of the highest standards of service.
Also as we specialise in personal shipping, every customer is important and valuable to us, no matter if you have a container for your sole use or are just sending a few boxes.
As part of our quality service commitment, we only use the best accredited shipping lines. Below we overview the main shipping companies we partner with. All operate to high standards so the list is not necessarily in order of preference.
The shipping company we choose would be based on a combination of cost, availability and the destination you are moving to.
2) Maersk Line
Part of the A.P. Moller Group, Maersk are the world’s largest shipping company based in Denmark and operates on an international basis, with the majority of its trades taking place between Asia and Europe, South America and Europe, and the UK and North America.
With an extensive network of 600 vessels travelling between 370 ports located in 110 countries, a large number of trades occur on a daily basis both business and personal. Headquartered in Copenhagen and operating for over a century, Maersk has one of the most integrated shipping networks, including warehouse storage solutions in over 50 countries. In 2015, Maersk was reported to have held 15% of the world’s existing container capacity.
Maersk is probably the most famous container shipping line worldwide and its ships are very identifiable with a light blue colour.
3) MSC – Mediterranean Shipping Company
MSC is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland and trades on average 20 million TEU in capacity annually.
Founded 50 years ago, its expertise are focused on delivering a variety of goods in a range of different sectors, some of which include: chemicals, food and beverage, agriculture and many more. They also offer bespoke container types to suit different cargo loads, from dry cargo, reefer cargo, and special cargo to dangerous goods.
However, they also provide a quality service for shipping personal goods for people moving overseas.
MSC operates in over 150 countries globally, with 560 vessels travelling in any one of the 200 different allocated routes at any given time. They also offer transport services on land, including intermodal services via truck and rail. Asides from container shipping, MSC also offers warehouse and storage solutions, as well as custom clearance services so your items can be taken care of past the point of just shipping.
MSC are recognisable for its bright yellow branding and the black colour of its ships’ hulls.
PSS ships with MSC from the UK to ports in the USA, Cyprus, New Zealand, Australia, Asia and the UAE.
4) ONE – Ocean Network Express
ONE was established as a joint venture between Japanese shipping companies: “K” Line, MOL and NYK in 2017. Headquartered in Singapore, ONE is the sixth largest shipping company in the world and also a member of The Alliance alongside members: Hapag Lloyd and Yang Ming.
They’re recognised for their strong branding and bright pink shipping containers, reminiscent of cherry blossoms in Japan (the origin of their parent companies). With their message to unify the world as “one” through collaborating internationally and providing global services, they collectively own 250 vessels and transport 1.4 million TEU in capacity annually, with services being offered in over 100 countries.
5) Hapag Lloyd
Hapag Lloyd (also a member of The Alliance alongside ONE and Yang Ming) offers logistic and shipping services in just under 400 locations, trading between Latin America, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America, with frequent trading to countries like Cyprus, Australia, New Zeland, US and UAE.
As one of the largest liner shipping companies in the world, Hapag Lloyd offers a wide range of container types to support different cargo requirements i.e. breakbulk, open-top, hardtop, flat rack and platform. As well as being headquartered in Germany, they also have regional offices located in Hamburg, Genova, Dubai, Singapore, New Jersey and Valparaiso – with regional cargo contacts available readily for shipment enquiries.
Annually, Hapag Lloyd is known to transport 12 million TEU in capacity via 230 vessels, with the majority of their cargo including foodstuffs and beverages, materials and chemicals.
Hapag Lloyd is famous for its bright orange shipping containers which really catch people’s attention when they are parked outside your home to collect your household goods.
PSS partners with Hapag Lloyd to ship from the UK to ports in Cyprus, Australia, New Zealand, Asia, USA, Canada UAE / Dubai and more.
Sealand is a Maersk company focusing on intra-regional shipping within continents: the Americas, Europe, Mediterranean and Asia.
Sealand’s network covers 300 ports in 90 countries, supporting the shipment of dry, reefer, special and dangerous goods cargo. Alongside container shipping, Sealand also provides intermodal transport via sea, rail, truck and barge, with value protection to keep your goods covered at all times. Like the majority of modern international shipping companies, Sealand’s website and mobile applications allow live tracking of existing shipment orders to keep you informed of potential delays and estimated delivery times.
7) OOCL – Orient Overseas Container Line
OOCL, a shipping company headquartered in Hong Kong, is primarily known for their integration of technology to improve its logistic and shipping services – including being one of the first to design an application for managing and tracking orders.
They are also known for being awarded for their internal data management system, IRIS-2, as well as their ongoing project on the use of artificial intelligence to improve the overall logistics and transport process with Microsoft Research Asia.
OOCL are in fact the first shipping company to become accredited against the Safety, Quality and Environmental (SQE) management system, applicable to the 59 vessels they own, each up to 21,000 TEU in capacity, trading between Asia, Europe, America, Australia and Africa.
We mainly use OOCL as an alternative for shipping to Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
8) DAL – Deutsche Afrika Linien
DAL are a privately owned German shipping company, run by the Essberger/Von Rantzau family and headquartered in Hamburg, Germany.
DAL provides both container and general freight services, with its shipping network covering Africa, Europe, the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean (though its main focus is that of East and South Africa). DAL owns 4 vessels, totalling just over 21,000 TEU in capacity, and is one of the first shipping companies in history to trade to and from Africa.
9) Tropical Shipping
Tropical shipping is a transport and logistics company based in West Palm Beach, Florida, providing door-to-door shipping and intermodal services for container shipments as well as less than container loads (LCL).
They have 50 years of experience shipping internationally across 30 locations for both personal and business use, using integrated real-time shipment tracking services and marine insurance covered by Sea Seas for added peace of mind.
At PSS we use Tropical for shipping from the UK to the Caribbean & Bahamas.
CMA-CGM are a large French shipping company headquartered in Marseille, trading between 160 countries worldwide, owning the second largest reefer carrier in the world. They have an extensive network of 420 ports globally, running 500 vessels that travel via 200 routes, holding 21.6 million TEU annually in capacity.
CMA-CGM provide door-to-door logistic services via sea and land, with experience in transporting dry, refrigerated, special and dangerous goods cargo. CMA-CGM are also highly proactive when it comes to sustainability, launching their CMA-CGM plus scheme for the environmentally conscious who are looking to lower their cargo’s carbon footprint.
They provide the choice of package between using a natural gas that releases fewer air pollutants, using a biofuel that releases fewer carbon emissions or allowing you to contribute to sustainable agricultural and social projects.
Whilst not one of the main container shipping lines we use, CMA are useful to have as a backup option.
11) Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation
Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation are a Taiwanese shipping company founded in 1972, transporting load both domestically and overseas and covering Asia, Australia, Europe and America.
They own over 100 vessels, transporting 640,000 TEU in capacity annually. Yang Ming is ranked ninth for the number of containers imported and exported to and from the US. As members of The Alliance, they collaboratively work with their allies in providing shipping services across 80 ports worldwide. Asides from transport and logistics, they also offer warehouse services and the repair and lease of containers.
Which international shipping company should you use?
The above are some of what we consider the best shipping companies operating out of the UK. But fortunately, you don’t have to go to the trouble of choosing which is best for your circumstances as your experienced Move Manager will take care of that for you.
To get a quote for moving or shipping overseas you can use our international removals and shipping cost calculator.
There are many good shipping companies to choose from. As long as you select an accredited company you should be fine. However, even when you use one of the best, you still need to ensure your belongings are expertly packed for a long sea voyage and you also need to be confident that the import and customs procedures are taken care of.