Ship to norway

Shipping routes to Norway

How can you ship cargo to Norway? What corridors are best? See our complete review here!

Figure 1: Liner services to and from Norway. Container, RoRo, RoPax and Multipurpose. ​​

Norway has a comprehensive route network. It consists of container, RoRo and combination carriers in fixed route as well as international RoPax ferries. The cargo is transported in containers, in accompanied and unaccompanied trailers on ferries and RoRo vessels, on pallets in side door vessels or on rolling mafis or as modules lifted by cranes.

​Main corridors

​The main corridor to Norway is to the Oslofjord from the Netherlands (and to some extent Belgium) as well as from Germany on the North Sea side. From the same areas there are also corridors to the West Coast and to some extent northern Norway as shown on the map. 

Nor Lines serves the whole coast with three weekly flights from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and the Baltic Sea. On these routes there is also domestic cargo. The other lines have negligible cargo between Norwegian ports.

The main ferry corridor is from Hirtshals on the north tip of Denmark to South Norway. In addition, on the east side of Jutland, there is ferry transport from Germany and East Denmark and container and general cargo transport from the Baltic Sea.

Beyond the fixed routes shown in Figure 1, there are several industry shipping lines serving industrial ports with pallet, bulk and combination ships. These are not included in the further analysis.

​​​8,800 trailers per week

For 2015 we have estimated the total transport capacity of the fixed lines to 8,800 trailer-equivalent per week. This corresponds to 440,000 trailers per year and constitute a capacity of 7.0 million tonnes in each direction to and from Norway. In comparison, in 2015 ships barely carried 3 million tons of container ships in each direction, whereas imports on ferries was 0.7 million tons and export 0.6 million tons. Unaccompanied trailers carried 0.7 million tons in total in both direction.

Capacity calculation​

​We have calculated the capacity as follows. A trailer equivalent is equal to the capacity of a standard euro-semi-trailer. The analysis covers fixed schedule lines registered in the route database of the Shortsea Promotion Centre (see ShortseaSchedules).

For container ships we have used the ship capacity in TEU. We have estimated that the nominal loading capacity is half of the registered ship capacity and that a trailer is equivalent to 2.25 TEU.

For RoRo and ferry the capacity has been based on the specified trailer capacity in every deck. For ferries, we have estimated that half of the trailer capacity is used for trailers, since the trailer decks are also being used for passenger cars.

​Allocation of capacity

​Container ships in 2015 amounted to approximately 44% of load capacity, RoPax 38%, RoRo 12% and the remaining 6% was combination carriers. This next chart shows the breakdown of capacity in various corridors. The Netherlands and Belgium, with Rotterdam as the main port, is the main point of entry to Norway. Also important is Germany, where the ports of Bremerhaven and Hamburg are important for containers and Kiel for ferry. During 2015 we also seen a nice growth in transport capacity from the Baltic Sea.

Figure 2. Weekly transport in the main maritime transport corridors to and from Norway on the basis of the lines schedules and the ships nominal capacity

RoPax constitute a relatively large proportion, but transport distances are very short with short stretches across the Skagerrak and the Oslo Fjord. For transport in tonne-km, RoPax therefore represents a much smaller percentage.

​​​Main line operators

In the ShortseaSchedules route database there are 20 line operators serving Norway. Some of the routes are shared by multiple lines. The next figure shows the transport capacity of the various ship operators in trailer equivalents per week.


Figure 3. Line operator capacity in trailer-equivalent per week. Some of the routes are shared by multiple line operators. Unifeeder has ship sharing agreement with Samskip, DFDS Logistics and Team Lines.


​In capacity, ferry operators Color Line, Fjord Line and DFDS Seaways are relative large since we have assumed that half of the trailer decks are used for trailers.

Color Line and Fjord Line operates ferries between Hirtshals in Denmark and southern Norway. Fjord Line has a daily route that goes all the way up to Bergen from Hirtshals.

Color Line has long had a ferry between Strömstad in Sweden and Sandefjord on the west side of the Oslofjord and in 2015 Fjordline established a competing route on the same stretch.

In addition, Color Line has a daily route between Kiel and Oslo.


By far, the largest container operator is Unifeeder with ship from the Netherlands and Germany to the Oslofjord. Following the acquisition of Tschudi Line, Unifeeder has become even more dominant on the transport of European cargo to Norway. From 2015 they also operate a line from the Baltic Sea to the Oslofjord. For some of the routes to the Oslofjord Unifeeder shares its ship capacity with Samskip, DFDS Logistics and Team Lines. In this way, the lines can use larger ships, offer higher frequency and have a more reliable access to cargo. 

NCL (North * Sea Container Line) is the largest container operator in West and North Norway. Their routes cover both the Netherlands and Germany.

Samskip is a major player through vessel sharing agreements. They also have a separate line that runs from Rotterdam to west and central Norway.

A number of feeder operators serve the Oslofjord. The trend in 2015 has been that overseas lines increasingly handle their own feeder transport. This applies Maersk (with its own Seago Line on the Oslofjord and the west coast), Hapag Lloyd, MSC, CSCL (China) and CMA / CGM. Of these, Maersk, Hapag Lloyd and CSCL established new feeder routes in 2015. This has resulted in an increase in shipping capacity on the Oslofjord. It also meant that feeder volumes to Unifeeder has been lower and that Unifeeder increasingly concentrates on European cargo.

​​RoRo and multipurpose ships

DFDS operates both RoRo ships (DFDS Seaways) and combination carriers (DFDS Logistics). DFDS Logistics also markets the RoRo capacity of DFDS Seaways. In addition they have a vessel sharing agreement for containers with Unifeeder on the Oslofjord and NCL for western and northern Norway. This gives them an additional capacity in comparison to that shown in the previous figure.

Sea-Cargo is the largest RoRo operator with its five RoRo / combination carriers in fixed liner service. In addition they carry paper products in specialized vessels, which are not included in the previous figure.

Nor Lines operates combination ships along the coast. In 2015 they took delivery of two modern and environmentally friendly newbuildings that carry containers, trailers and pallets. They also renewed the fleet by chartering younger tonnage. Their connection runs from the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Poland and Finland and then along our coast. They also market the cargo capacity of the coastal steamer that serves the coast between Bergen and Kirkenes in daily routes.

UECC primarily carry new passenger cars to the Oslofjord, but they also offer capacity for other rolling cargoes.

​Door to door

Most lines offer door-to-door transport. This applies to both container and Ro-Ro lines. Their stevedores or agents organize pre- and oncarri​age by truck.

Multimodal transport is as easy to use as trucking for shippers being able to plan for the extra transit time.


Most lines offer transhipments on own routes. In 2015 we also saw a strong increase in cooperation between different lines and in transhipment between ships and trains and river barges.

Samskip has long been a leader in the multimodal segment. Their transit hub is Rotterdam. From there Norwegian shippers can reach all of Europe by ship, rail or river barge. Samskip use multimodal containers of 45 feet. They can easily be shifted between the various modes of transport. Choice of transport mode is adapted to customer time requirements. Other lines have similar offers.

In 2015 DFDS initiated a cooperation with CargoNet, a Norwegian cargo train operator. Trailers from Europe is shipped via Brevik to and from the west coast and elsewhere.

Similarly both Color Line and Fjord Line partnered with CLdN on transhipment of trailers via Hirtshals from Belgium and from the CLdN route net. And vice versa. 

NCL has signed an agreement with A2B Online on transhipment of British-Norwegian cargo in Moerdijk in the Netherlands.


Figure 4. Example of transhipment. Direct (red ports) and indirect (gray) connection to Oslo. Source ShortseaSchedules, click on the map to see which ports you can reach from Oslo.

For transhipment to be attractive the transit time and cost must be minimized. Ports that have the ambition to become a hub must therefore keep hub costs down and be effective. In 2015 there was minimal transhipment in Norwegian ports and no Norwegian ports has managed to establish itself as a hub for others.

Learn more:

Route search

Please visit ShortseaSchedules for further routing information and contact details for different lines and agents! Click on the map below to see the lines and ports in Norway.​ Also try our to-from search. 


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