What are ETA and ETD in shipping?

Shipping can be defined as the physical moving of goods from one point to another, such as the moving of merchandise from the warehouse to the customer through the sea. 

Shipping can take several forms depending on the distance covered and the speed of delivery necessary. 

The most cost-effective type of shipping is ground shipping, and it is also the slowest form. Basic discounted ground shipping could take up to 10 days or longer at peak holiday shipping times.

For quick deliveries air freight would be used, however, this is also more expensive. In the case of international shipments, freight can be sent via ocean shipping, and while this is very cost-effective, it is also extremely slow, taking up to 6 weeks or longer in some cases.

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While air freight gets around this, international air freight can also be very expensive.

Shipping costs also tend to decline with larger volumes. This means that a shipping cost is likely to reduce if you are ordering so many goods. The higher the goods, the lower the price.

Just like every other delivery company, shipping has its own rules and even logistics companies. These companies have in turn made shipping easier for the people, especially international shipping.

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Estimated Time of Arrival (ETA) 

ETA which is an acronym for Estimated Time of Arrival is when a ship or vessel is expected to arrive at a specific destination. It also helps to see the expected duration of a vessel’s route. 

The goal is to keep the owner informed about the progress of an ocean sailing vessel. The specific location can be the warehouse or some other location specified in the sales contract for the shipment. In some cases, the destination can also be the location.

Knowing a precise ETA allows port authorities to be prepared for the vessel’s arrival.   An accurate ETA can make entire supply chains more efficient and reliable, affecting stakeholders worldwide.  

For instance, a vessel or cargo leaving from China to Nigeria will have an Estimated Time of Arrival so the owner, buyer, or consumer can be ready.

If it’s a raw material for building or any other thing, proper arrangements will be made.

Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) 

ETD which is an acronym for Estimated Time of Departure, means when a ship or vessel is expected to depart. 

It is when the goods or vessels are expected to leave the port to arrive at the place of the buyer or consumer.

This is important because this time will show how long a vessel will stay at the dock. It will also help to manage when the next vessel can dock in the port.  

It must be noted however that ETD can also refer to Estimated Time of Delivery.

In this case, it refers to the date that the shipment arrives from the origin to the port or warehouse. This typically refers to the date that the vessel carrying the cargo arrived at the source port.

Estimated time of delivery, which refers to the final point in a logistics supply chain, or the moment a product is handed over to the consignee.

Estimated time of delivery is most frequently used by couriers and package/product delivery companies. It is important to note that delivery estimates are different from arrival estimates. 

Difference between Estimated Time of Departure and Estimated Time of Arrival.

  • ETD is the abbreviated version of Expected or Estimated Time of Departure while ETA stands for Expected or Estimated Time of Arrival.
  • ETD could be the estimated departure time of the shipper’s cargo on board a vessel or that of the transport vessel itself. It could be the estimated departure time of anything that could be waiting for dispatch. While in ETA, arrival could be that of the vessel or the cargo.
  • Estimated time of departure, which is the beginning of the last-mile delivery journey, when a package will leave a storage facility. 
  •  ETA is the date that the shipment arrives in the destination country and the ETD is the date it arrives at the consignee’s premises. It is important to clarify these definitions clearly when making out contractual agreements to avoid misunderstandings.

The estimated times of departure and arrival are usually mentioned in the booking confirmation issued by the ocean carrier or the freight forwarder.

It is an acknowledgement for the booking of cargo by ship. A booking confirmation will have the booking confirmation number, description and quantity of the load to be shipped, the equipment that is used for the shipment, and the journey plan.

The equipment means the type of container or pallet that is used to hold the cargo. 

A typical journey plan would include the ETD and ETA of the carrier.

Confirmation of Booking

A booking confirmation is a valid contract between the carrier and the shipper. It is issued by the carrier or freight forwarder to the shipper.

It is a document that confirms the details of a booking. This document is used to confirm a booking for accommodation, transport, or any other service.

Confirmation of booking form is used where the booking contract is made by the customer and the service provider independently and the details of the booking are confirmed by the service provider.

This document may be sent out by the service provider to the customer in advance of the booking to confirm the requested details. 

Importance of calculating correct ETA

ETA accuracy is very important to consignees for several reasons:

  • To be able to plan for late deliveries by alternate sourcing
  • To ensure the receiving warehouse has sufficient space to receive and hold the cargo
  • If receiving raw materials, to ensure that planned production schedules have sufficient raw materials to meet demand, without having a large inventory on hold
  • To make arrangements for local transportation if necessary
  • To make sure that the owner is available to receive it. Most times people have to travel to places to pick up their goods. A wrongly calculated Estimated Time of Arrival can cause a lot of damages 

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