When Should You Use Cross-border Trucking?

Benedict Leong

A forklift moving pallets into a container truck

Need to Ship to Southeast Asia via Sea, Air or Cross border Trucking? Get a quote here!

Looking for a fast and affordable way to ship in bulk to countries like Singapore and Malaysia? For those whose businesses are located on the Indochinese Peninsular – such as Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and others – cross-border trucking could be the way to go.

Faster than sea freight and usually more affordable than air freight, we look into the factors where cross-border trucking can optimise your Southeast Asian supply chains.

If you’re looking for how cross-border trucking works, you can find out more for the following lanes:


When Should You Consider Cross Border Trucking?

Suited for direct to consumer (B2C) and bulk freight (B2B) logistics needs, cross-border trucking services are usually divided into full-truckload (FTL) and less-than-truckload (LTL) variants.

Full truck load (FTL) shipments are where a whole truck carries a single shipment for one shipper. Less-than-truckload (LTL) shipments are where shipments from multiple shippers are consolidated into a single truck. LTL shipments require sorting and distribution at a destination warehouse to de-consolidate the shipment before it can be sent to the consignee.

When considering which transport mode is suitable for your shipments, you’ll need to look at a few factors:

  • Items you need to ship:
    • Size
    • Weight
    • Shape
    • Hazard
  • Costs
  • Speed

Comparison chart of sea freight, air freight and cross-border trucking when considering item flexibility, costs and speed

Ease of Use – Fewer restrictions items shipped

  • Cross-border trucking has fewer restrictions on the types of items you can deliver when compared to air freight. 

Air freight is subject to International Air Transport Association – IATA safety standards, so certain items such as liquids, items with batteries, etc go through more red tape.


  • Trucks on average are able to hold taller items as well. 

This means that items that are taller and wider are catered to better via cross-border trucking. When shipping via air freight, you can ship items up to 1.6 metres tall on average while trucks can hold items up to 2.8 metres tall on average.* 

These are averages however, and the actual height restrictions for each transport mode depends on the kind of vehicle that your shipment will be loaded on to. You can check with you logistics service provider or freight forwarder for these details before you pass them your order.

Costs and Speed – Saving on Bulk Deliveries

  • Cost – On average, cross-border trucking is cheaper than air freight.

In Southeast Asia, this does come with the limitation of only being able to serve countries on the Indochina peninsular, but it can amount to considerable savings if your supply chain requires frequent deliveries between countries such as Singapore and Malaysia.


  • Speed – cross-border trucking is only slightly slower than air freight

For example, the actual flight or trucking trip from Singapore to Malaysia will both take about a day to finish. The rest of the delivery timing depends on customs clearance. Deliveries between further origins and destinations could add around one or more days to the delivery.

With cross-border trucking’s speed and its overall lower costs per volume compared to air freight, this transport mode can save you money per volume without sacrificing too much speed for the Southeast lanes it’s available for.

On the other hand, is that cross-border trucking does not benefit from de minimis rules. For instance, deliveries via courier into Singapore which have a customs valuation of below SGD 400 are eligible for GST relief. A similarly valued shipment entering Singapore via cross-border trucking will still be subject to duties and taxes.

Costing and scheduling also work differently for FTL and LTL shipments, but this will be covered in an upcoming article.


  • Can help mitigate supply chain risk

One benefit that cross-border trucking has compared to air freight is that its supply is not dependent on international passenger movements. There are certain times when international passenger traffic will drop, which could cause a reduction in available flights. The impact of this air freight shortage can be mitigated by having other transport modes available, such as cross-border trucking.

Infographic summarising cross-border trucking's benefits: Convenience and savings for costs and time

Cross-border trucking is a method that can save you more money on larger volumes, has more flexibility in terms of the items you can ship and is only slightly slower than air freight. Its supply not being tied to international travel also prevents you from keeping all your supply chain eggs in just one basket if you use both air freight and cross-border trucking.


As different types of shipments have different needs, it’s good to work with a international shipping and freight forwarding partner with the flexibility to match your evolving shipping requirements. When you work with Janio’s flexible end-to-end service you can be assured that we’ve got a solution that works for all your delivery needs from eCommerce logistics to freight. Reach out to us for a quotation or to find out what we do via the banner below:

Need to Ship to Southeast Asia via Sea, Air or Cross border Trucking? Get a quote here!


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