Difference between a Liner and Tramp service

In the course of day to day business you would have come across the terminology Tramp service, Tramper, Tramp vessel and also the terminology Liner Service or Liner Shipping..

Are they the same or is there a difference between a liner and tramp service..??

Liner Service – is a service that operates within a schedule and has a fixed port rotation with published dates of calls at the advertised ports..

Difference between a liner and tramp serviceA liner shipping service generally fulfills the schedule unless in cases where a call at one of the ports has been unduly delayed due to natural or man-mad causes..

Example : The UK/NWC continent service of MSC which has a fixed weekly schedule calling the South African ports of Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth and carrying cargo to the UK/NWC ports of Felixstowe, Antwerp, Hamburg, Le Havre and Rotterdam..

A Tramp Service or tramper on the other hand is a ship that has no fixed routing, itinerary or schedule and is available at short notice (or fixture) to load any cargo from any port to any port..

Difference between a liner and tramp serviceExample : A ship that arrives at Durban from Korea to discharge cargo might carry some other cargo from Durban to Oakland which is on the West Coast of USA which is in an entirely different direction from which the ship came from..

From Oakland say for example it could carry some cargo and go to Bremerhaven..

One of the main differences between Liner and Tramp would be in the type of contract of carriage and Bill of Lading used..

In the case of a Liner, generally the shipping line operating the liner service will have their own pre-printed bill of lading or use a BIMCO CONLINEBILL 2000, whereas in the case of a Tramp service (which may be covered by a Charter Party), a bill of lading like the BIMCO CONGENBILL 2007 will be used depending on the cargo, charter party etc..

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56 comments on “Difference between a Liner and Tramp service”

  1. By ama Reply

    hi , could you please tell me if multipurpose vessels are used in liner service or do they tramp or both.

  2. By Awajioniro Reply

    Dear frnds, i studied maritime mgt expecting nysc soon, can anyone guide me on wot to do to b posted to maritime industry to serve, instead of classroom. Tnx

  3. By tantita.fuze@gmail.com Reply

    Thank for your information. I wonder that is Tramp service is the same as Charter service?
    Thanks in advance.

  4. By francia asare Reply

    the above article has a lot of information and it gives more details of the tramp and liner comfrence seystem

  5. By Pongpipat Reply

    just ask about dry bulk vessel in the world , most of them are tramp vessel ?
    focusing on China, they import Hugh iron ore and export other things to world , are there tramp ?
    which one is driven the world seaborne trande between Tramp and liner ?

    • By Vijay Gaikwad

      Liners have more than 80% of the seaborne trade, on volume basis and tramps are relatively minor players

  6. By Ngibip Marcel Reply

    Hello Guys

    I wish to know more about the main difference between the type of cargo carried by a liner and a tramp.

    • By Vijay Gaikwad

      As a thumb rule, the loose bulk cargo is carried by the tramps whereas containerised and packaged cargo is carried by the liners. However, the business lines are not watertight compartments and there are exceptions.

  7. By J.Roshan Reply

    Dear Guys,
    Recently in my class our lecturer asked one question what is different between Tramp & Liner i have find so many links but i couldn’t find easy answer but through this notes i have taken the notes point wise one by one it’s very easy pick our knowledge this is the way to learn thanks for your corporation and understanding in this regard.

  8. By A-1 Freight System Reply

    I never known much about this information until I found this post. Thanks for sharing this very useful information. I am glad I cam accross your site.

  9. By Ava Cristi Reply

    Liners carry goods in large quanties from merchants and consigners. Tramps ships, on the other hand, often carry cargo on a more random, per-load basis. The primary advantage of ships is their ability to carry tons of merchandise and equipment. They transport many of the world’s finite resources, including oil and coal.

  10. By Humayun Kabir Chowdhury Reply

    Liner Shipping means a specific mode of ocean transportation services where a shipping company operates their fleet of vessel for carriage of goods between fixed ports,at regular intervals under publicly advertised schedule. Chartering on the other hand refers to a kind of shipping business, where the entire ship is hired by a shipper or charterer either for a particular voyage or for a period of time say six months or one year, to fulfill his business commitment under some mutually agreed terms and conditions which is known as “Charter Party” in shipping trade. Thanks

  11. By Frank Tornyi Reply

    it’s a pleasure been on this site i’ve acquired some knowledge here.thaks.

  12. By stephen kilonzo Reply

    i was able to learn the facts i wanted on liner and tramp services and i highly appreciate.ics student.

  13. By Kalappa Babu S. Reply

    Good to know that this site is providing shipping knowledge bank on the website

  14. By Oscar Reply

    how do I track my cargo using a bill of landing that start with six letters?
    example being: LSSZEL12060075

    • By Manaadiar

      Oscar, it not always easy to identify the issuer of a bill of lading based on bill of lading number.. There are some big lines like MSC, Hapag Lloyd etc that issue bills with a bill of lading prefix like MSCU, HLCU etc which helps to identify the shipping line..

      But not all lines do this.. Especially if the bill of lading is issued by an NVOCC, not many people know those prefixes..

      This prefix you have provided is new to me and the only way you can tracking your cargo is by going to the website of the shipping line/nvocc or forwarder that issued the bill of lading, providing of course the site offers a tracking facility..

  15. By Napoleon okugbe Reply

    I think occean liners carry more goods than tramp liners because there is always a particular time schedule for occean liner to carry goods…Thanks

  16. By clarence joachim Reply

    can tramp services ships have a competition with liner service in the market

    • By Manaadiar

      Hi Clarence, even though it is called tramp services, they provide the same first class shipping service that most liner services provide albeit at different intervals depending on the contract.. For this reason, tramps can be a competition to the liner service.. However, the advantage that the liner has is the frequency of sailings and the regular ports of call..

    • By manaadiar

      Hi Lazar, tramps are not designed to carry dry bulk, rather dry bulk moves a lot on tramp vsls.. It is because unless there is a COA, in most cases dry bulk does not have the regularity and pattern of other cargoes.. Tramp is just the name given to the service because of its nature to go anywhere in the world.. However if those same ships get a fixed cargo pattern they will follow that and could become a liner service..

  17. By faustina Reply

    liner takes assorted type of cargo(heterogeneous) but tramp takes one type of cargo(homogeneous).the contract for liner is the bill of lading whiles for tramp,is the charter party.

  18. By starr Reply

    the introduction of rules of hague brought a certainty of contract to shippers and carriers introduicing a universally accepted convention for the first time to international trade.
    Hague visby was a revision of hague rules,principallya ffecting limitation of liability.

  19. By Sivirike josephat Reply

    Why were hague and hague visby rules introduced? Why have countries incoporated the hamburg rules in thier own maritime law?

  20. By fiza Reply

    what are different and similarities between
    a) liner agent and broker
    b) liner agent and tramp agent

  21. By paul Reply

    oops, meant to give you a thumbs up for the info. pls keep up the good work, you have a great blog.

  22. By Ana Reply

    the purpose of tramp ship is provide a convenient and economical means to transport goods that require cross ocean movement. one of the key characteristic of tramp shipping is to seek cargoes all over the world and provide flexibility in sea transport to satisfy the needs of world trade. the tramp ship can be only vessel that does not have a fixed itinerary and mainly carries dry cargoes in bulk from one port to one or more different ports. tramp ship go from place to place depending upon where they can find cargoes. tramp shipping mainly carries only one comodity at a time and usually carries cargo from one shipper. tramp ships carry dry bulk cargoes that are used by many industries. a main function of liner shipping is to to satisfy the demand for regular transport under which cargoes are transported through regular routes and with regular schedules. liner ship is mainly made up of manufactured or partly manufactured goods. the majority of liner ship is carried in containers. liner ship is more expensive vessels than tramp ship because their building and operating costs are usually higher.

  23. By anil Reply

    What is the defference between conference or regular line vessels against conference or regular liner vessels?

  24. By emy Reply

    can give difference in schedule, for example on difference write in a column. it is easy ti read this differences.

  25. By Andrew Reply

    Hi Kunayusof

    The main thing about a Tramp service is the fact that they operate on a very flexible schedule in search of cargo worldwide. They carry primary bulk cargo’s and are known to wait till they have a full vessel before sailing on again. Tramp companies are a lot smaller than the Liner companies and their business demands an intimate knowledge of market conditions.

    Liner companies rely on the fact that they offer very reliable day named service to clients, however there are down sides to this in that if the schedule is not maintained then the clients will not support the line again.

  26. By kunayusof Reply


    can you please provide more points of the differences between liner and tramp service


    • By Imad

      Tramp are for Bulk and BB and mostly for raw materials while Liner are for containerized commodities and manufactured goods in addition to RORO Svc