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Freight FAQs

Our mission is to become a global leader in logistics and trade finance by making trade simpler, more transparent and reliable for businesses. From our heritage at Uber and Amazon, we bring together a team with extensive expertise in logistics, technology and hyper-growth. At Beacon, we are passionate about customer experience and dedicated to drastically simplifying how companies import and export goods globally.

We use best-in-class technology including data science, AI and machine learning techniques to drive disruption and efficiency in a centuries old industry. Join us as we transform the industry together, do more than you ever thought possible and make more of an impact than you ever imagined! We offer a full range of services, including global ocean, road and air freight, plus a platform of customer service and transparency.

Depending on the kind of cargo you’re transporting, requirements may vary. If you already know how much cargo you’d like to ship, and by what mode, as well as when the cargo is ready, you can reach out to your account manager or email [email protected] for more information.

We make it a point to ensure you can ship just about anything with Beacon. When making a booking, please ensure you discuss the goods with your Account Manager who will be able to assist you.

For example, if you’re shipping electronic products with lithium batteries, we may need to complete some extra checks and some paperwork to accompany them. The manufacturer should be able to advise on this, but if you’re unsure, please ask – we will always do our best to help.

Certain areas around the world are difficult to ship to, and some are entirely prohibited. If you have questions or queries on this, please do reach out to your Beacon account manager – we are keen to explore all options to find you a service which works for your needs.

Incoterms are standardised definitions of commonly used shipping and trade terms. These terms cover issues such as control of goods, financial responsibilities, and which party is responsible for each stage of the shipping process, including cargo insurance and payment of freight. Chat with your account manager to understand the best incoterms for you and your trading partners.

EORI number stands for “Economic Operators Registration and Identification number”. It helps to identify individual economic operators within the European Union. Economic operators are defined as any natural or legal person (e.g. limited companies or public limited companies) or legally responsible bodies of persons (e.g. GbR, OHG, limited partnership). Anyone importing to or exporting from the EU needs an EORI number. You can apply online and find more information on EORI on the EU website.

We can ship cargo for customers without EORI if customers are doing port to port; however we will still need to give an EORI to the shipping line for bill of lading purposes. We will ask for this at the onboarding stage.

A VAT ID (or VAT number) is a unique number which identifies an organisation or company who is registered for VAT. We will ask for this at the onboarding stage. For more information, please visit the UK Government’s VAT Explanair page.

EORI is mandatory for all the businesses importing goods into the UK specially following Brexit – more details can be found here on the GOV.UK website.

We can ship cargo for customers without EORI if customers are doing port to port; however we will still need to give an EORI to the shipping line for bill of lading purposes. We will ask for this at the onboarding stage.

In regards to VAT customers do not need this, unless the turnover is above GBP 85,OOO.

Additional charges, such as port charges, are applicable depending on the INCO Terms you choose for your shipment. Port charges can include fees for loading and unloading a container onto the vessel, documentation fees and cargo checking fees.

Origin port charges apply at the port from which your goods depart, and destination port charges apply at the port into which your goods arrive. The fees differ from port to port, and from country to country. Often, the shipper (or manufacturer) will be responsible for paying the origin port charges, and the customer (or the importer) will be responsible for paying the destination charges. If you are paying for door to door services (as per your chosen incoterm) you will be responsible for paying both the origin and destination port charges.

If you have any queries around port charges, and who is responsible for the payment of these, please reach out to your Beacon account manager who will be able to advise you on this.

Navigating the Beacon app

Anyone with access admin permissions on your account can add more users through the platform. If you are still experiencing issues, please email your account manager who will be happy to assist.

Please try searching in the ‘Shipments’ tab within the app for your purchase order, BCN, or container number. If you are still experiencing issues, reach out to your account manager who will be happy to assist.


Usually, we’ll contact your supplier one to two days after you’ve uploaded all the necessary documentation, or provided us with their information.

To avoid any delays, we ask that you provide the supplier’s contact information and PO references as soon as possible. Please ensure that we have the contact name(s), phone number(s), and email addresses of those who will be dealing with your consignment.

Should you miss the cut off date for making cargo available, we will do our best to accommodate you with another booking on the next available service. Should additional charges be incurred, we will pass these to you at cost and notify you at the earliest possibility.


Here at Beacon, we work with a wide variety of carriers across different trade lanes and routes. For further details on our partnerships, please ask your Beacon account manager, or send us an email at [email protected].

We are always looking to expand our supply network. If you wish to get more information on working with Beacon, please email us at [email protected] and our supplier team will get back in touch.

Cancellation policy

Here at Beacon, we operate a 3 working day cancellation policy on all our road and air freight bookings. Should you require a cancellation more than 3 working days in advance of the pre-arranged pickup time, you will not be charged for the booking. Cancellations within the 72 hour period immediately prior to scheduled collection, could incur costs. We will do all we can to minimise these costs as much as possible. In order to make an amendment or cancel a booking, please contact us via email at [email protected]  

Cancellations and amendments requiring change in vessel schedule must be communicated to Beacon in writing at least 10 working days prior to vessel departure date from Port of Loading. Cancellation charges may apply for cancellations within 10 days of vessel departure, or for specific premium sailing options.

Please note: Days mentioned above are general guidance only and in certain cases it can be shorter. Cancellation charges can also vary.

Quoting & pricing

If you’d like to request a quote from us or find out more information, please click on the Request a Demo button in the top right corner of our website and fill out the form with your query. A member from our team will then be in touch to help. If you are an existing customer you can reach out to your account manager with any questions.

If you are shipping a sizable amount of cargo (more than 15-17m³) it makes sense to compare both FCL and LCL rates. FCL shipments require less handling compared with LCL, and so cargo may reach the destination more quickly, and at similar prices. Your packing options increase by using FCL, and with less handling you will have a more secure shipment.

We quote with varying rate validity periods and prices do tend to change in line with the market. If you’d like to discuss further, please contact your account manager who will be able to assist you.

Beacon can offer temporary storage solutions for your cargo through one of our trusted partners. Please reach out to your account manager who will be able to provide further information.

Absolutely, proof of delivery will be provided to you when each shipment is complete. If you have specific requirements (eg. the original proof of delivery is required), please get in touch with your account manager to discuss what your needs are and how we can help.

Beacon works with each customer in which payment terms are agreed upon and confirmed during the onboarding process. This is subject to further reviews and invoicing.

We pride ourselves on being as transparent as we can with our customers. We will work to set expectations with our customers from the beginning of the quoting process, for example, regarding peak season surcharges or additional fuel fees. On the occasion that we have to pass on additional costs to our customers, we will be fully transparent and inform them as early as is practicable.

You can see the Additional costs to look out for in our After Shipment section for more information.

We recommend that you book with Beacon well in advance of your cargo ready date (CRD), especially during peak seasons. The least number of required notice days (from booking request to CRD) :

  • Ocean – 10 working days
  • Air – 3 working days
  • Road – 3 working days
  • During Peak / Pre-Chinese New Year – 15 working days (all modes) (to assist with space protection)

There is no minimum dimension on what we will ship for our customers. However, when shipping smaller items it can often be more cost effective to choose airfreight as an option – this also provides a faster transit time and less handling of the goods. Reach out to your Beacon account manager who will be able to advise you on this and provide some indicative quotations for different options.

This depends on the size of the pallets and whether they can be stacked, a good guideline is:

  • 10 pallets at 120 x 100cm for a 20ft
  • 40ft will hold 20 pallets if the cargo is non-stackable.

In terms of cubic metres:

  • A 20ft will hold 33 cube while a
  • A 40ft will hold 65 (this can go up to 76 for high cube)

Please note: Some of this space is generally lost due to package and loading imperfections.

If in doubt, please ask your account manager for assistance and provide us with as much information as possible at time of requesting a quote (e.g. are the pallets stackable?).


In general, Beacon will handle all communication with customs officials for your shipment. This of course depends on the Incoterms you choose – if you need some clarification on this, your account manager will be able to help.

If customers require Beacon to manage customs on their behalf, we would require the customer to sign Direct Representation with us. This is completed during the onboarding process. During onboarding we will also capture EORI, VAT and deferment account information. Customers can also use our deferment account.

All customs documentation can be sent directly to your account manager. The documentation in question would be:

  • Bill of Lading
  • Packing List
  • Invoice
  • E2
  • C88
  • Any certificates such as EUR1, GSP, Health Certificates etc
  • Master Bill of Lading

Duty & VAT calculations differ from country to country, and depending on the goods or commodities you are shipping. While it may seem like a very complex process, we are here to help. Please contact your account manager if you have any queries or questions surrounding this.

Getting goods ready

After placing an order on the Beacon platform, an account manager will be in touch regarding your shipment. They will work with you to ensure all documentation is completed, including commercial invoices, power of attorney, packing lists, and bills of lading. Once we can verify all necessary requirements are in place, we will finalise the details of your shipment and this will be available to view on the Beacon platform.

Always specify the destination address, that is, where the cargo needs to be shipped to. Adding a contact number can also be useful to assist with delivery. Also, if you’re shipping hazardous or fragile goods, you’ll need a label to assist handlers in identifying this.

No, we don’t provide packaging services and it is mandatory that all goods are properly packed for transport. Palletizing isn’t necessary for less-than-container load (LCL) shipments, but it will help with loading and unloading of your cargo.

Calculating duty and VAT differs from country to country, commodity to commodity, and tends to be a complex process throughout the world. We’re experts in this field, so we’d be happy to help – please contact your Beacon account manager for further information.

We recommend that you book with Beacon well in advance of your cargo ready date (CRD), especially during peak seasons.

As an indication, we recommend booking at least 14 days in advance of the cargo ready date for sea freight, and at least 10 days in advance for air freight.

Peak seasons tend to be from mid-August to mid-October, and again coming up to the holiday season and Chinese New Year, from November to January.

Peak season can change each year, so please plan ahead with your account manager who will provide you with the most up to date information.

In transit questions

The majority of shipments depart and leave on time. However, certain factors can delay the scheduled arrival and departure of a vessel, such as extreme weather, mechanical issues, and port congestion. During peak seasons, these delays can have a higher impact on supply chains, and so careful planning is crucial. We will notify you as soon as we become aware of any potential delays, and aim to do our utmost to minimise the impact on your business.

It’s unlikely that additional charges will be incurred after the shipment has been completed, however it can happen. Certain exceptions mean that the payment due is higher than the quote initially provided, for example, changing the origin or destination, adding insurance, or customs holds. We will always aim to notify you of these additional charges as soon as we become aware of them.

General questions

Please contact your account manager immediately upon the discovery of any damage to your goods. We will take the appropriate next steps and keep you informed every step of the way.

We are as transparent as possible when it comes to quoting our customers, so it’s unlikely that you will be charged differently from the initial quote provided. However, under certain circumstances  outside of our control, extra charges may be added, for example, customs examinations, overweight cargo, or road transport requiring an escort will attract higher costs. There is also a risk of demurrage, which is when a fee is charged by the shipping line for the failure to remove the full import container off the port within the specified time. We’ll always go the extra mile to avoid these additional costs where possible, and when the charges are incurred, we’ll inform you at every step. See our “Additional Costs to Look Out For” section for more information.

How do I pay?

Beacon works with each customer to agree payment terms. If you have any specific questions regarding your payment terms, please contact your account manager who will be happy to help.

Additional costs to look out for

Detention is what the shipping line will charge if you should fail to return the empty, clean container to the port within the specified amount of time. Generally this will be 48 hours, but sometimes you are able to obtain an extension under obscure circumstances.

Demurrage is a fee charged by the shipping line for the failure to remove the full import container off the port within the specified time. Generally a shipping line will only give you a certain amount of time, for example, 3 days to get the container off port once it becomes available. After that time you will be charged a daily fee.

A Tail-Lift vehicle is typically a rigid unit which has a hydraulic powered lift attached to the rear. This enables pallets and crates to be loaded with ease and safely onto a truck without the need for a forklift. Ongoing equipment and maintenance costs are always associated with a tail-lift therefore movements are usually more expensive upon request.

Deliveries on these days incur an additional charge of £175.

Deliveries at night incur an additional fee, however, this can vary based on a number of circumstances. Your account manager can give you additional information when you are making a booking.

Containers that require a generator set (GENSET) for power attract an additional charge, usually between £300-500. Please advise us if you require these when you are giving us your delivery details and we will confirm the costs.

Low loader trucks require a trailer, which is an additional cost. We can confirm the amount at the time of booking your delivery.

If you want to divert a container, there will be a diversion charge, which is based on mileage. Please contact us and we can confirm the cost for you.