Delivery in transit, break bulk: the steps of a transport

From the moment your goods are loaded onto a truck to their arrival at the consignee’s, there are several stages: your shipment may be in transit for some time, and may even be subject to what is known as a “load break”. What does this mean in concrete terms? While transit can mean passing through a defined place without delivery or payment of customs duties, break bulk means unloading at the quay, before loading into a new vehicle. We’ll explain the differences between these two terms, which can be used at different points in the shipping process.

What are goods in transit?

In international transport, goods in transit means that they have entered the customs territory of the European Union (TDU). However, transit regimes have been specifically designed to facilitate border crossings, and avoid slowing down the logistics chain as much as possible. For example, it is possible in certain cases to move goods under suspension of duties, taxes and control measures – which reduces the risk of having goods in transit for too long.

In domestic transport, the term “transit” echoes a more general notion: goods in transit are in the process of being delivered, but have not yet arrived at their destination. It may be in transit in a particular city: this means that it passes through, without being delivered there.

The notion of transit can be important when it comes to complying with the Highway Code: some signs prohibit the circulation of transport vehicles in transit. In this case, only light and heavy vehicles that have to deliver can circulate in areas or streets closed to transit.

What is a load break in road haulage?

Load breaking refers to the stage during which goods are unloaded from the vehicle, before being loaded onto another truck for transport to the consignee. In this case, there may also be a storage period of varying length – this intermediate stage is referred to as transshipment time.

Breaking loads entails certain additional costs, from the moment there is additional handling and maneuvering (storage, repackaging, etc.). You need to be able to use a suitable infrastructure to manage a load break (loading and unloading, storage in warehouses). The risk of damage is also increased tenfold in the event of load breakage.

However, load breaking may be necessary as part of bundling and unbundling strategies. These involve periods of storage and handling, but also optimize vehicle loading and deliver goods more quickly.


How can I avoid unforeseen circumstances when delivering my goods?

An unforeseen event during a transit phase, a handling error on a load break and your goods could be damaged.

In this guide, we explain the preventive measures you can take to avoid transport-related disputes.

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