10 Best International Shipping Companies & Liners for Containers (USA & Global)
International shipping is one of the most critical parts of the global economy, yet it is also one that is often overlooked. Global shipping plays a vital role in trade between nations and economic growth. Keep reading to learn about the best international shipping companies in the USA and beyond.
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Best shipping company names comparison chart: Top 50 shipping companies in the world
This is our top 50 list of shipping companies. For each company, we have included its capacity in terms of twenty-foot-equivalent (TEU), number of ships, and market share, if available.
|Rank||Shipping Company||# of ships||Capacity (TEU)||Market Share|
|2||Mediterranean Shipping Company||469||2,935,464||16.90%|
|3||China Ocean Shipping||277||1,603,341||12.30%|
|7||Orient Overseas Container Line||107||666,558|
|10||United Arab Shipping Company||56||546,220|
|11||Nippon Yusen Kaisha||97||538,754|
|12||Mitsui Osaka Shosen Kaisha Lines||82||515,880|
|13||Hyundai Merchant Marine||69||458,247|
|14||Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha Limited||64||363,049|
|15||Pacific International Lines||132||361,752||1.00%|
|16||Zim Integrated Shipping Services||69||307,934||1.70%|
|17||Wan Hai Lines||96||248,880||1.50%|
|19||Republic of Korea Marine Transport Company||72||140,365||0.60%|
|20||Shandong International Transportation Corporation||75||100,195||0.60%|
|21||Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines||26||89,374||0.60%|
|22||Arkas Container Transport||48||86,157||0.20%|
|25||Sinokor Merchant Marine||42||59,533||0.50%|
|26||Transworld Group of Companies||33||57,588||0.20%|
|27||Emirates Shipping Line||9||48,450|
|28||Regional Container Lines||24||47,782||0.30%|
|29||China Merchants Group||34||46,181|
|35||Quanzhou Ansheng Shipping Company||12||37,261|
|38||Salam Pacific Indonesia Lines||31||29,576||0.20%|
|41||Namsung Shipping Company||26||24,900|
|43||Tanto Intim Line||35||23,094|
|44||Shipping Corporation of India||5||20,648|
|46||National Transport and Overseas Services Company||13||20,318|
|47||Far Eastern Shipping Company||14||18,622|
|49||Log-in Logistica Intermodal||19||17,979|
What are shipping companies and what do they do?
Shipping companies, sometimes also called shipping liners, provide freight services overseas on ships.
They also include container shipping companies, which provide the containers for shipping, and shipping lines, which transport other companies’ containers. Some shipping companies do both!
What are the different types of shipping companies?
There are several different types of shipping companies, and some terminology is interchangeable. Common terms you’ll hear in reference to shipping companies are:
- Shipping lines
- Sea companies
- Cargo shipping companies
- Major shipping companies
- Private shipping companies
A shipping line is a company that owns and operates ships that carry containers and other cargo.
Shipping lines are also referred to as shipping container companies or container owners, meaning that they own the containers and container liners that hold the cargo to be shipped, but they still transport containers owned by other shipping companies, too.
Sea companies are simply shipping companies that transport goods via sea freight, as opposed to other types of international shipping companies that transport via rail, road, and air.
Cargo Shipping Companies
Cargo shipping companies, or cargo companies for short, are freight service providers that transport large volumes of cargo from one place to another via ship.
Major Shipping Companies
A major shipping company is any shipping company that does a large volume of business in one or more industries. These companies provide freight services to multiple large businesses.
Private Shipping Companies
There are two types of private shipping companies—those that own a transportation fleet to carry their own products, and small businesses providing shipping services to consumers and other small businesses.
What are the best international shippers? Here’s our top 10 list:
Of course, being a great shipping company is about more than the size of the fleet or total capacity.
Our top 10 list of international shipping companies includes not just the biggest shipping companies, but the best. The top shippers on our list are:
- ZIM Integrated Shipping Services
- CMA CGM Group
- Hamburg Sud Group
- Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation
- Pacific International Lines
- Evergreen Marine
- Wan Hai Lines
- China Ocean Shipping Company
1. Maersk (best global shipping company overall)
A.P. Moller-Maersk Group (“Maersk”) is the biggest shipping company in the world, responsible for more containers than any other company globally. Maersk Group has over 600 ships at its disposal and moves over $675 billion US worth of goods each year.
- HQ location: Copenhagen, Denmark
- TEUs: 3,201,871
- Employees: 76,000
- Founded: 1904
- Revenue: $9.6 billion US
- Website: www.maersk.com
- Easy online booking via Maersk Spot
- Maersk ECO Delivery service uses biofuel for net-zero emissions
- Maersk is committed to corporate and environmental responsibility
- Doesn’t send out arrival notices, so you have to track your shipment to avoid extra fees
- Customer service is difficult to reach and often unhelpful
You can get instant pricing for inland shipping at Maersk’s website, or request a quote for overseas routes.
2. ZIM Integrated Shipping Services (best shipping company for refrigerated goods)
ZIM is Israel’s premier shipping company. This company prides itself in its use of advanced technology. Its fleet of ships is one of the most advanced globally, stopping at over 180 different ports worldwide. In addition to maritime shipping, ZIM also provides overland logistical support.
- HQ location: Haifa, Israel
- TEUs: 307,934
- Employees: 4,200
- Founded: 1945
- Revenue: $3.3 billion US
- Website: www.zim.com
- Multiple overseas services to the US from Europe, Asia, and the Mediterranean
- Able to provide refrigerated (“reefer”) containers for frozen foods, perishables, and pharmaceuticals
- Inexpensive compared to other providers
- Prone to delays
- Some customers have complained of poor customer service
Use the “request a quote” tool at Zim’s website to get detailed pricing information.
3. CMA CGM Group (best shipping containers company for add-ons)
The CMA CGM name stands for Maritime Freighting Company – General Maritime Company. This transportation company offers a wide range of logistical services, including container shipping. They are active at 420 of the world’s 521 commercial ports.
- HQ location: Marseille, France
- TEUs: 2,220,474
- Employees: 110,000
- Founded: 1978
- Revenue: $23.48 billion US
- Website: www.cma-cgm.com
- Beneficial add-ons, such as security devices, controlled climates, and paperless documentation
- Option for offsets and biofuel shipping
- Offers sea, air, and inland solutions
- Slower than other providers
- Must be preregistered to get a quote
Registered users can get an instant quote at the CMA-CGM website.
4. Hamburg Sud Group (best international shipping company with tracking technology)
The Hamburg Sud Group is the second German company among the best international shipping companies. It is also one of the oldest. It was initially founded in 1871 to transport goods between Germany, Argentina, and Brazil.
Since this humble beginning, it has grown into one of the largest shipping companies in the world.
- HQ location: Hamburg, Germany
- TEUs: 594,008
- Employees: 5,360
- Founded: 1871
- Revenue: $6.9 billion US
- Website: www.hamburgsud-line.com
- Provides a variety of containers, including standard dry and reefer containers, and specialty open-top and flat-rack containers
- ECO Delivery option actually reduces emissions, unlike offsets that other companies use
- Easy to track shipments on the website
- Must register to get a quote
There’s no clear pricing information or way to request a quote, but registered users can book online.
5. Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation (most environmentally conscious global shipping company)
Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation is one of the many Taiwanese companies on our list of best international shipping companies. This company provides international trade through maritime shipping as well as other logistical services. Its fleet numbers over 100 ships and stops at 170 ports in more than 70 countries.
- HQ location: Keelung, Taiwan
- TEUs: 588,389
- Employees: 5,393
- Founded: 1972
- Revenue: $5.09 billion US
- Website: www.yangming.com
- Easy online shipment tracking
- Variety of container styles and configurations, including reefer containers
- Online booking for existing customers
- Website is dated and hard to navigate
Companies in the US can get shipping rates from Yang Ming via their online contact form.
6. Pacific International Lines (PIL) (most environmentally friendly container ship company)
Unlike other companies on this list, PIL focuses on container shipping and does not offer different types of logistical support. However, this company also manufactures shipping containers and recycles old container ships.
PIL’s fleet numbers over 100 ships, making stops at 500 locations worldwide, with its primary routes between Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
- HQ location: Singapore
- TEUs: 361,752
- Employees: 18,000
- Founded: 1967
- Revenue: $4.04 billion US
- Website: www.pilship.com
- Focus on container shipping makes PIL a specialty shipper
- Environmentally responsible recycling policies
- Huge network of ports
- Limited logistics services
- Only available in Canada and Central America – not USA
Contact your nearest PIL local office for a quote or more information.
7. Hapag-Lloyd (best international shipping company for dangerous goods)
Hapag-Lloyd is the largest German transportation company in the world. Its fleet consists of almost 250 vessels, which help secure a 7% market share of the global shopping market. The fleet operates in almost 130 countries and stops at 350 different ports.
- HQ location: Hamburg, Germany
- TEUs: 1,038,483
- Employees: 9,500
- Founded: 1847
- Revenue: $12 billion US
- Website: www.hapag-lloyd.com
- Longest established dangerous goods division for special product shipping
- Website is easy to navigate
- Multiple local offices in the US
- Must be registered to get a quote
Registered users can get a quick quote at the Hapag-Lloyd website.
8. Evergreen Marine (most eco-friendly container ship fleet)
Evergreen Marine has taken a different approach to its container ship fleet. While most of the companies on this list are building bigger and bigger container ships, Evergreen Marine’s largest ship is only 8,500 TEU.
Evergreen Marine has modernized its smaller vessels to reduce its environmental impact while staying competitive with its larger competitors.
- HQ location: Taoyuan City, Taiwan
- TEUs: 995,147
- Employees: 3,389
- Founded: 1968
- Revenue: $4.6 billion US
- Website: www.evergreen-marine.com
- Small, eco-friendly ships
- Committed to carbon neutrality by 2050
- Small ships limit carrying volume
- No quick quote available
Get a shipping quote via Evergreen Marine’s online contact form.
9. Wan Hai Lines (best shipping company for exports to Asia)
Wan Hai is one of the largest privately-owned Taiwanese shipping companies. In addition to maritime shipping, Wan Hai also operates shipping container terminals, trades & rents ships and containers. Wan Hai only has 20 international shipping routes, but 15 stops are at large, international ports.
- HQ location: Taipei, Taiwan
- TEUs: 248,880
- Employees: 3,940
- Founded: 1965
- Revenue: $2.57 billion US
- Website: www.wanhai.com
- Ships out of several US ports
- Service all over Asia and the Middle East
- Some US routes only go to one or two Asian destination ports
- No service to Europe.
Request a quote via Wan Hai’s online rate request form.
10. China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) (best trans-pacific shipping company)
COSCO is the largest shipping company headquartered outside of Europe. It also owns 5 of the ten largest container ships in the world. Its fleet makes port calls at over 350 locations in over 100 countries, and the company operates over 50 of its own container terminals.
- HQ location: Beijing, China
- TEUs: 1,603,341
- Employees: 130,000
- Founded: 1961
- Revenue: $10.2 billion US
- Website: www.lines.coscoshipping.com
- Ports on every continent except Antarctica
- Door-to-door supply chain solution offers more than just overseas shipping
- Specializes in fresh cargo, special cargo, personal effects, and more
- Website isn’t super intuitive to navigate
- No US ports available
Request a rate quote via COSCO’s online quote form.
What is the best shipping container company for me? Our conclusion
We hope you’ve found our list of international and American shipping companies helpful. By now, it should be clear why shipping overseas is so critical to the global economy. Shipping liners and ship container companies are the safest and most reliable way of transporting large volumes of goods, but it does take time.
Be sure to choose a shipping company that has experience in transporting your particular type of goods. For example, go with reefer containers for perishables, and if you’re shipping dangerous goods, be sure to ask your shipping company how they handle those.
Whatever you’re shipping, remember to invest in container liners to prevent mold in shipping containers during their long journey to their destination.
International Shipping Companies in USA FAQs
Here are some frequently asked questions about international shipping companies in the USA.
What is the most profitable shipping company?
The most profitable shipping company on this list is Maersk, which had its most profitable quarter ever in 2021 at nearly $6 billion US. That’s more than most shipping companies’ total revenue!
Is UPS the largest shipping company?
UPS is actually a logistics company, which means that in addition to shipping, UPS also provides packaging and warehousing services. Because it does more than just ship, it wouldn’t be accurate to compare UPS to other shipping companies.
Who owns the most cargo ships?
Maersk owns the most cargo ships at over 600, which is nearly 200 more than its nearest competitor, Mediterranean Shipping Company.
What is the safest shipping service?
International liner shipping is the safest and most reliable shipping service. As long as the cargo makes it into a container, it is all but guaranteed to arrive at its destination. It’s also one of the most eco-friendly methods of transporting cargo globally.
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