Due to growth of consumer markets and consequently, household spending in Southeast Asia, more goods need to be moved across borders. This has given a healthy boost to the cross-border trucking transportation in the region.
Cross-border trucking can save money and time. It is faster than ocean and cheaper than air. It’s also a more flexible option as it allows for new transport routes between neighboring countries or regions and fast door to door delivery. Air and ocean freight rely on fixed schedules. Trucking is significantly more flexible regarding routes utilized and departure times.
In this article, we share information on cross-border trucking and provide tips on how to make land border crossings in Southeast Asia for your shipments as smooth as possible.
What do I need to know before organizing my first cross-border shipment?
Cross-border trucking in Southeast Asia has many benefits. However, to ensure a smooth process, there are a few things you should know before organizing your first shipment.
Cargo trucks restrictions
Firstly, vehicle restrictions bar entry of one country’s commercial vehicle into the other. Unlike in the EU, where trucks can easily cross borders, commercial vehicles in Southeast Asia, registered in one country, cannot always enter the other country.
For example, trucks from Malaysia cannot enter Thailand and trucks from Thailand cannot enter Malaysia. Likewise, trucks from China cannot enter Vietnam and trucks from Vietnam cannot enter China.
There are two exceptions. Trucks from Vietnam and Thailand can enter Laos and trucks from Singapore and Malaysia can enter both countries.
Apart from the above exceptions, cargo must change conveyances when crossing borders.
This introduces risk of damage when transferring cargo from one conveyance to another. To minimize risk, DB Schenker utilizes the Lift On/Lift Off (LoLo) method. This is where the entire container is transferred from one truck to the other at the border via appropriate lifting equipment
A second key area where cross-border trucking differs from other transport modes is in customs clearance. Due to different regulations in each country, shippers must deal with multiple customs requirements when crossing borders.
Most of the customs processes are similar to other freight modes. However, road borders are often located far from traditional air and sea ports in metropolitan areas.
Due to the remote locations of the road borders and the fact that most customs headquarters are in the city, it can take a long time to resolve issues like incomplete paperwork.
To avoid delays and costs, it is important to work with a well-established, international logistics company. Unlike domestic trucking companies that operate on a small scale and do not offer integrated services like customs clearance, DB Schenker has offices at most Southeast Asian key road border points with specialized customs teams. This ensures all shipments comply with all customs regulations before truck departure.
With DB Schenker, the shipper can also use secure storage and parking facilities at the key borders in case of unforeseen delays.
Unseen Border Congestion / Holidays
Peak seasons are a third key area to be aware off. At specific times throughout the year, certain border crossings deal with exceptionally high volumes resulting in long waiting times for the shippers. This happens around the Chinese New Year, or at month end closing when some industries dispatch more cargo than usual.
Besides longer lead times, shippers may have to deal with a lack of truck availability and labor because drivers may not punctually return to work after the holidays.
To avoid problems during peak times, we recommend to engage DB Schenker, because we know the local market conditions and we forecast traffic flows. We also partner with other trucking companies to efficiently manage demand fluctuations.
Cargo Safety & Security
A last key area is cargo security. Cargo security is essential for all transport modes. However, road conditions in Southeast Asia are especially challenging. However, there are steps you can take to make sure your cargo stays safe. To avoid cargo damage, we make sure cargo is properly secured with lashing, floor stoppers and/or inflatable dunnage. We also verify if the driver is thoroughly trained to deal with tougher road conditions.
Trucking is not only an efficient transport solution across Southeast Asia. Increasingly, shippers discover the benefits of multimodal solutions for export or import to and from other regions in the world.
For instance, DB Schenker transports cargo from Vietnam to Bangkok via road. Once it arrives in Bangkok, the cargo is shipped by air to East Asia, Europe and Latin America. This multimodal solution is also applied from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Another attractive multimodal transport solution is road/rail between China and Europe. With the increased frequency of rail between various cities in Europe and China, rail is quickly becoming a more attractive option for shipments between Asia and Europe.
We connect from Southeast Asia via road and Japan and Korea via Ocean to China to meet the Europe train service.
We also seamlessly connect Europe to America via Ocean, making this a truly global service offering from Southeast Asia.
What makes a shipment successful?
According to DB Schenker’s Southeast Asia LANDbridge team, the key success factors are timely planning, effective communications, and strong implementation.
Timely planning becomes even more important around public holidays or during the peak season. In these circumstances, careful planning is crucial to avoid last minute surprises.
A final success factor is to work with experienced and committed staff. Cross-border shipments involve a lot of coordination amongst the teams in the different countries. The local teams need to communicate well, have the same goals and show the same level of commitment towards the customer.
DB Schenker transportation and customs brokerage teams in Southeast Asia know each other well. They hold meetings to exchange ideas and discuss ways to further improve services.
Where are the busiest border crossings in Southeast Asia?
The busiest border for cross-border trade in Southeast Asia is the Thailand and Malaysia border traversing Sadao (TH)/Bukit Kayu Hitam (BKH) (MY)
The Pingxiang (CN) / Langson (VN) border, and Johor (MY) /Tuas (SG) are also amongst the busiest borders in the region.
There is also increased trade between Thailand, Myanmar and Laos.
With Asia LANDbridge, DB Schenker has one of the most extensive cross-border road transportation services available in Southeast Asia, with access throughout Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia, with connection to China, Europe and America. More information is available on our website.
To learn more about DB Schenker’s cross-border trucking solution in Southeast Asia or to book your next shipment, please contact your local DB Schenker office.