Contracts of Affreightment (COA): A Comprehensive Guide

Contracts of affreightment, commonly known as COAs, are legal agreements between a shipper and a carrier for the transportation of goods over a specified period. In a COA, the shipper agrees to hire the carrier for a specific number of shipments, while the carrier agrees to provide their services at predetermined rates for a set period.

COAs are a common practice in the shipping industry, particularly for bulk cargo and commodities such as oil, gas, coal, and grain. These long-term contracts offer many benefits to shippers, including cost savings, guaranteed capacity, and operational stability.

Types of COAs

There are two main types of COAs: spot COAs and time charter COAs. Spot COAs are short-term agreements that cover a single shipment or a series of shipments over a short period. These are often used for irregular cargo or when there is uncertainty about the cargo`s availability or destination.

Time charter COAs, on the other hand, are long-term agreements that cover a fixed period (usually one to three years) and a set number of shipments. These are commonly used for regular shipments of commodities, such as oil or gas, where the demand is high, and the shipping routes are predictable.

Benefits of COAs for Shippers

COAs offer several benefits to shippers, including:

Cost Savings: COAs allow shippers to negotiate lower rates with carriers for committing to a set number of shipments. This can translate into significant cost savings over the life of the contract.

Guaranteed Capacity: With a COA, shippers have the assurance of a fixed capacity for their cargo over the contract period. This helps to avoid delays and ensures timely delivery of goods.

Operational Stability: COAs provide shippers with the stability and predictability they need to plan their operations effectively. This is particularly important for shippers of commodities that require regular shipments.

Benefits of COAs for Carriers

COAs also offer several benefits to carriers, including:

Steady Revenue: COAs provide carriers with a steady stream of revenue over the contract period, which helps to stabilize their cash flow and reduce financial risk.

Strategic Planning: COAs enable carriers to plan their operations and allocate their resources more effectively. This helps them to optimize their fleet utilization and improve their overall efficiency.

Competitive Advantage: By offering COAs, carriers can differentiate themselves from their competitors and attract more business from shippers who value stability and reliability.


Contracts of affreightment (COAs) are an essential tool for shippers and carriers in the shipping industry. COAs provide shippers with cost savings, guaranteed capacity, and operational stability, while carriers benefit from steady revenue, strategic planning, and a competitive advantage.

If you`re a shipper or carrier looking for a reliable partner for your shipping needs, consider entering into a COA. Whether you`re shipping bulk commodities like oil and gas or irregular cargo, a COA can provide you with the stability and predictability you need to succeed in today`s competitive shipping market.