Sea transport is divided into two types:
- Short distance, known as short sea shipping, which the European Commission defines as follows: « Movement of cargo by sea between ports situated in Europe as well as between ports in Europe and ports situated in non-European countries having a coastline on the enclosed seas bordering Europe. »
- Long distance, known as deep sea shipping, concerns the movement of goods by sea between European ports and those in non-European countries not having a coastline on one of the enclosed seas bordering Europe.
This shipping may be organised in one of two ways:
- Tramping concerns the bulk shipping of dry or liquid goods.
- Scheduled lines provide transport for ITUs and heavy goods vehicles.
For the sea-road method, combined transport is restricted to short-distance sea journeys with the pre and post transport by road without any change of carrying container.