Port of Zeebrugge


The port of Zeebrugge is in an ideal location to serve the markets of continental Europe as well as the British Isles. It is a young seaport with modern port equipment capable of accommodating the largest ships. The present structure of the port dates from as recently as 1985.

With the emergence of the roll-on/roll-off techniques, containerisation and the increase in the scale of the ships, the Belgian government was convinced in the seventies to develop the coastal port into a deep sea port. An extensive outer port, a new sea lock with entrance to an inner port gave the Port of Zeebrugge new impulses in the years that followed. As a result, total cargo traffic tripled from 14 million tonnes in 1985 to 45 million tonnes in 2009.

The port of Zeebrugge is also one of the fastest growing ports in the range of ports between Le Havre and Hamburg, which together handle more than a billion tonnes of cargo a year. Almost every product the consumer finds in the shops comes through these ports. Zeebrugge has become, in barely a couple of decades, one of the most important entry ports to the European market.

Zeebrugge has gradually developed itself into a versatile port, which does not just focus on European roll-on/rolloff traffic. The coastal port is also important for intercontinental (container) traffic, container feeder traffic, conventional cargo, liquefied natural gas, cruises and last but not least traffic of new cars. In this section Zeebrugge even takes pole position in the world. The unit loads, roro and container traffics, take up three quarters of the total cargo throughput.

Zeebrugge is a deep sea port and guarantees sufficient water depth in the access channel to the outer port and along the quays, because of which the continually larger container ships can be loaded and unloaded at any time. This competitive advantage means that the largest shipping companies in the world have Zeebrugge on their sailing schedule. Several world-renowned container operators have invested substantially in the port infrastructure.

In combination with a wide range of intercontinental services and good hinterland connections, Zeebrugge is especially suited for intercontinental companies to organise their European or worldwide distribution. In the meantime, quite a few companies have invested in logistic centres. From here they add value to their cargo before distributing throughout Europe. Zeebrugge has grown from a pure transit port to a logistic platform. The role of Zeebrugge as engine of the regional economy is growing. Today, 28,000 people have a job, directly or indirectly, thanks to the port.


In 2011 the Institute gave a workshop to the key stakeholders in the Zeebrugge Port Community on its findings from its research in to best practice in port community development.

Globalization means that more and more goods flow between continents and subsequently the traditional role of ports in the wider supply chain context is being subject to a process of radical review. In broad terms, the traditional port system is being replaced by a model which focuses on logistics service quality which in turn has brought the performance of ports and their communities into sharp focus.

Port customers, whether they are shipping companies, importers/exporters, terminal operators or logistics service providers, judge a port not on the basis of any one port stakeholder’s individual service – but rather in a combined way, as after all logistics is a combination service. In essence, the port is only as strong as its weakest link, and therefore its reputation depends on the level of Coordination, Communication and Control amongst port stakeholders.

Across the world “First Mover” Port Authorities and their communities alive to these new challenges have devised and developed a myriad of strategies and programs designed to deliver a seamless integrated logistics product to their customers. Since 2003 the Global Institute of Logistics has enjoyed a direct relationship with a diverse range of global port authorities and their communities, people and places that we have identified as First Movers, Thought Leaders and Early Adopters of the logistics model of port development. In essence, communities committed to the ‘Relay’ rather than the ‘Delay’ of cargo.

To read more about the workshop click here.

European Chapter Chairman: Mr. Joachim Coens
Email: Ms. Anne Glas - ag@mbz.be
Tel: +32 (0) 50 54 33 15

Port of zeebrugge,
Isabellalaan 1,
B-8380 Zeebrugge,

+32 (0)50 54 32 11


Port of Zeebrugge Website


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