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shipping medical equipment


Medical equipment is a highly regulated category of goods, because it needs approval from the local health authority, which is usually the Ministry of Health in the destination country. You will need to get a full declaration of your medical equipment.  

In this article, we will guide you on how to ship your medical equipment overseas easily. More so, you will also be able to understand what you need to keep in mind while shipping the medical goods. 

But before moving towards the process of shipment, let’s see how many types of medical equipment are there. Of course, you can divide them into several kinds but here are the major ones: 

Kinds of equipment: 

  1. Diagnostic. These devices include an apparatus for ultrasound examination, X-rays, equipment for heart activity reading, etc.   
  1. Therapeutic: These can include devices like blood pressure monitor or a phonendoscope/stethoscope. 
  1. Patient Transportation: Here it means all the equipment for transporting a patient like stretcher or trolleys. 

Thing you must remember… 

  • Medical equipment is a commercial category hence one cannot ship medical equipment as an individual. 
  • You must obtain approval from the Ministry of Health of the destined country. 
  • The equipment with the batteries would have different packing procedures. 
  • Make sure the equipment is not outdated 

Now, you must be wondering which transport mode you should choose for shipping: Air or Sea. Let’s discuss each. 

Why use Air Freight for Shipping Medical Equipment? 

When time is the essence and critical, air is the better mode of transportation. Imagine if you are part of a disaster relief team and you would have to ship your product as soon as possible to save lives, there would be no other option than to ship it by air.  

Air freight saves your precious time but it can cost you a lot, almost 4xtimes of ocean freight.   

Air shipment is effective if there are tight deadlines for your freight. You can’t afford to delay the delivery. It also has many flights available so you can ship them without delay. Ocean, on the other hand, would take weeks if not months in case there is a delay at the port.  

Delivery of medical equipment is a troublesome process, since the cargo is fragile and expensive. It is necessary to know the exact parameters and characteristics of the transported objects. Based on them, a suitable mode of transport can be selected. 

Another important nuance that influences the choice of delivery method is the distance from the place of loading (origin) to the final point (destination). In international transportation, aviation is preferred. The plane will deliver the cargo quickly and safely. 

Let’s find out how much does it costs to ship by air.  

The cost of shipping medical equipment overseas is not much different than any other products or materials for shipping. The cost depends upon your cargo. The cost is charged according to the weight and volume of the product, and also it is dependent upon the distance between the origin and the destination.  

You should also know that the cost involves many factors apart from just freight charges. It can include the charges for documentation and compliance involved as well. And not just that, the charges of handling, transport facility, and the formalities of customs, all of these play a crucial part in taking out the cost. 

Let’s take an example: 

We calculate the volumetric weight at 6000 cubic centimeters per kg.  Thus, if you divide the cubic centimeter volume of a shipment (L x W x H) by 6000, it will bring volumetric weight. 

For instance, let’s say, you have a shipment that is 79 x 119 x 119 cm with an actual weight of 295 kg. We have to calculate its volumetric weight in the following way: 

Volume: 79 x 119 x 119 cm = 1,118,719 cm3 (cubic centimeters) 

Volumetric Weight: 1,118,719 cm3 / 6000 = 186.4 kg 

Now here, the chargeable weight should be 295kg because the actual weight is larger than the volumetric calculation. 

Here is the further detailed method for you of calculating the cost of air freight. 

Packaging essentials for medical equipment to ship by air 

The packaging of a medical device will play a critical role in the safe delivery of treatment to patients. 

The packaging of the medical equipment is costly enough. Because it requires extra care. It needs white glove services. It is a term used in logistics which implies special attention to the details. 

The air service is also preferred for shipping medical equipment overseas, because at sea sometimes the water might come inside the container. This can damage the equipment due to the dampness from the moisture. The chances of rusting are also there on the sea freight. 

For medical equipment, customized containers are important. They will be important to avoid abrasion, movement, or any other damage. Each kind of equipment, either lab, diagnostic or even surgical, requires separate prevention. And this all can cost enough but of course, you cannot afford to send the equipment damaged, right? 

You must ensure the integrity of the product from the manufacturer to its end point of use, and in some cases, the packaging could even work in the application of the treatment.  

For these reasons, it is important that medical device manufacturers choose the appropriate packaging to avoid mechanical damage during transport. 

While medical technology packaging certainly needs to protect high-value products during shipping and transportation, it must also comply with health and safety regulations. 

Medical equipment is unlike other goods. This equipment needs special handling. You just can’t load them by throwing them.  

You have to pack your equipment into boxes like stainless steel boxes. Like injections or test tubes, you have to use stainless steel boxes. 

Another aspect is refrigerated and frozen cargo. The luggage compartment on the place does not have a refrigerating chamber, therefore, such goods are transported in thromboxes, packed with ice packs. This is a specific type of packaging designed to provide the cargo with the required temperature conditions. 

Now after the packing, let’s move towards the actual process of the shipping in sequence. 

The Complete Process of Shipping medical equipment overseas: 

When you ship a package, omitting even the smallest detail can cause unfortunate delays. Therefore, before you deliver your package, we recommend that you review this list and make sure you cover all the points. We have simplified this process in the form of the checklist for you. 

  1. Most important thing before even deciding to export the cargo is to check the restrictions in the destination country. Because, there can always be different rules in each country and you must get the required information. 
  1. Have you filled in the required forms and documentation properly? Because, at the time of delivery it can really disturb and cause delay. These forms comprise a signed international Airway Bill, the primary shipping document for most international shipments. You can fill out international shipping labels online too .The other documents you will need will vary by shipment, and may include the commercial invoice. 
  1. Check that content descriptions are accurate and legible. 
  1. List each item you submit separately and provide a detailed and accurate description of each, including what it is made of and how it will be used. Be specific and consistent in the content descriptions on the Airway Bill, commercial invoice, and other required documents. 
  1. Check the accuracy of the declared value. 
    The declared value and the description of the contents are used to determine the duties and taxes. Make sure the declared value you record for customs reflects accurate value and is equal to the value that appears on the Airway Bill, commercial invoice, and other required documents. 
  1. Make sure to review that contacts are there: both of the sender and the consignee. 
  1. Write legibly. 
    If you use a manual Airway Bill, make sure all information is legible on the original and copies. 
  1. Pack your shipment safely. 
    Do not exceed the weight specification of the packaging you use. Seal the packages. Do not send loose items in boxes. You should use padding material inside for protection.  
  1. Purchase special insurance for high-value items. 

We recommend that you purchase special insurance from your insurer when shipping high-value items. 

Required documents for Shipping through air.  

The most important documents you need to ship by air are the following: 

  1. Airway Bill (AWB): It is more commonly known as Waybill. It is typically created with all of the shipment information, as well as the barcode and 12-digit tracking number used to track the shipment in transit. 
  1. Commercial invoice: This is an important document in the area of logistics. It includes description of cargo value and amount. 
  1. Consular invoice: The councilor official of the origin country issues it.  
  1. Certificate of origin. This one is issued by the local chamber of commerce which looks for whether the items are made, manufactured here or somewhere else. 
  1. You also may require the Shipper’s letter instruction. This is required to ensure that your cargo is ready. 
  1. Packing list: This mentions the name of the consignee and the shipper/HS code, country of origin along with the description of goods, total gross/ net weight and also the shipper’s letterhead with signature. 
    You can further study the guidelines provided by W.H.O on importing procedures for Medical Products specifically for UAE. Also, the other necessary requirements and conditions are mentioned here. 

Now you also need to know about the customs clearance process as well. 

Customs Clearance 

You’ll need to deal with the customs clearance procedure twice: once at the place of origin and the second at the destination place.  
At the origin country, the customs agents inspect your cargo at the warehouse and check if there are any unusual occurrences.  

Later, at the place of destination there is inspection again. And you have to handover your documents to customs to check if everything is monitored well enough. They’ll charge you with import duty on a few of your products, keeping in consideration its tariff or HS code. 

Here is the list of the documents you need for the customs clearance: 

  1. Airway Bill (AWB) 
  1. Original invoice on shipper’s letterhead with stamp and signature. 
  1. Original packing list on shipper’s letterhead with stamp and signature. 
  1. Original certificate of origin. 

How can Freight forwarder help you with shipping your medical equipment overseas? 

You need a reliable and reputable freight forwarder who can handle all your processes in a hassle-free manner. Freight forwarders are connected with the top airlines in the business. It ensures that your equipment is safe and secure by providing you with the best available service.  
It is better to acquire the services of those freight forwarders who could provide you with digital tracking.  For example, Qafila which is also a digital freight forwarder who can keep you updated about your freight throughout the distance. Not only that, it will negotiate for the best cost for your cargo and handle your customs clearance process to save your precious time. 

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