As a port on an inland waterway
An inland port in the wide sense, as used in common speech, is simply a port on an inland waterway such as a river, lake or canal. The United States Army Corps of Engineers publishes a list of the Top 20 Inland U.S. Ports for 2003 and for this purpose states that "inland ports" are ports that are located on rivers and do not handle deep draft ship traffic. The list includes familiar ports such as St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, and Memphis. A network of inland waterways including ports is developed also in Europe (France, Germany, Poland, Russia, UK, Netherlands, Belgium), China and Brasil.
As an inland site with seaport function
The term inland port is also used in a narrow sense in the field of transportation systems to mean a rather more specialized facility that has come about with the advent of the intermodal container (standardized shipping container) in international transport. Rather than goods being loaded and unloaded in such ports, shipping containers can just be transferred between ship and road vehicle or ship and train. The container may be transferred again between road and rail elsewhere and the goods are only loaded or unloaded at their point of origin or final destination.
Shipping containers allow some functions traditionally carried out at a seaport to be moved elsewhere. Examples are the functions of receiving, processing through customs, inspecting, sorting, and consolidating containers going to the same overseas port. Container transfer at the seaport can be sped up and container handling space can be reduced by transferring functions to an inland site away from the port and coast.
Distribution may also be made more efficient by setting up the link between inland site and seaport as, say, a high-capacity rail link with a lower unit cost than sending containers individually by road. The containers are still collected from their origins or distributed to their ultimate destinations by road with the transfer happening at the inland site.
An inland port is just such an inland site linked to a seaport. This kind of inland port does not require a waterway. Key features of an inland port are the transfer of containers between different modes of transportation (intermodal transfer) and the processing of international trade. This differentiates an inland port from a container depot or transport hub.
The definition of inland port in the jargon of the transportation and logistics industries is:
"An inland port is a physical site located away from traditional land, air and coastal borders with the vision to facilitate and process international trade through strategic investment in multi-modal transportation assets and by promoting value-added services as goods move through the supply chain". — Center for Transportation Research, University of Texas.
Advantages of an inland port
An inland port can speed the flow of cargo between ships and major land transportation networks, creating a more central distribution point. Inland ports can improve the movement of imports and exports, moving the time-consuming sorting and processing of containers inland, away from congested seaports.
Examples of inland waterways
Examples of "inland ports" in the first, wide usage are
- - Mwanza - inland port in Tanzania on Lake Victoria.
- - Kigoma - inland port in Tanzania on Lake Tanganyika.
Examples of inland sites
- - Viana, Angola
- - Inland port of Ismaïlia on the Suez Canal in Egypt
- - Port of Boma - Boma, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- - Port of Ilebo - Ilebo, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- - Port of Matadi - Matadi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- - Port of Kinshasa - Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- - Port of Kisangani - Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo
- - Boankra Inland Port - Kumasi, Ghana - Under construction.
- - Kisumu Inland Port - Kisumu, Kenya - (on Lake Victoria) - See: Transport in Kenya
- - Embakasi Inland Port - Embakasi, Kenya
- - Eldoret Inland Port - Eldoret, Kenya
- - Nairobi Inland Port - Nairobi, Kenya
- - Port of Brazzaville - Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
- - River port of Kenitra on the Sebou River in Morocco
- - Heipang Inland Container Depot, Nigeria (2014).
- - River port of Juba on the White Nile in South Sudan
- - Swaziland Inland Port - Mbabane, Swaziland
- - Tororo Inland Port, Tororo, Uganda.
- - Port Bell Inland Port - Port Bell, Uganda (on Lake Victoria)
- - Chipata Inland Port - Chipata, Zambia - Under construction
- - Port of Suzhou - Suzhou, China
- - Vallarpadam Dry Port - Kochi, India
- - Sialkot Dry Port - Sialkot, Pakistan
- - Lahore Dry Port - Lahore, Pakistan
- - Sirsiya (Birganj) - Nepal
- - Port of Antwerp - Antwerp, Belgium
- - Port of Bratislava - Bratislava, Slovakia
- - Duisburg Inland Port - Duisburg, Germany
- - Port of Waterford - Waterford, Ireland
- - Port of Seville - Seville, Spain - The only inland port in Spain
- - Port of Moscow - Moscow, Russia
- - Port of Manchester and Manchester Docks, England - Manchester Ship Canal provides Manchester direct access to the Irish Sea
- - Gloucester Docks, Gloucester
- - Birmingham Port and Port of Birmingham, England - Birmingham Canal, Birmingham and Fazley Canal and Grand Union canal provide Birmingham direct access to the Atlantic, North Sea and English Channel
- North America
- - Port of Montreal - Montreal, Quebec, Canada 
- - Port of Quebec City - Quebec City, Quebec, Canada 
- - Guanajuato Inland Port - Silao, Guanajuato, Mexico - Largest Inland Port in Latin America
- - Port of New Orleans - New Orleans, Louisiana
- - Port of Philadelphia - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- - Port of Richmond - Richmond, Virginia
- - Port of Sacramento - West Sacramento, California
- - Virginia Inland Port - Front Royal, Virginia
- Mexico-United States border 
- South America
- - San Lorenzo-Puerto General San Martín Port Complex - San Lorenzo and Puerto General San Martín, Santa Fe, Argentina
- - Port of Rosario - Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina
- - Port of San Nicolás de los Arroyos - San Nicolás de los Arroyos, Buenos Aires (province), Argentina
- - Puerto Aguirre - Puerto Quijarro, Bolivia
- - Puerto Busch - Bolivia (under construction)
- - Port of Guayaramerín - Guayaramerín, Bolivia
- - Port of Riberalta - Riberalta, Bolivia
- - Port of Porto Alegre - Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
- - Port of Porto Velho - Porto Velho, Rondônia, Brazil
- - Port of Manaus - Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil
- - Port of Santarém - Santarém, Pará, Brazil
- - Port of Asunción - Asunción, Paraguay
- - Port of Encarnación - Encarnación, Itapúa Department, Paraguay
- - Port of San Antonio - San Antonio, Central Department, Paraguay
- - Port of Villeta - Villeta, Central Department, Paraguay
- - Kewdale Freight Terminal - Kewdale, Australia
- - Minto Inland Port - Minto, New South Wales, Australia - Inland Port for Port Botany
- - Ettamogah Inland Port - Albury, Australia
- - Brighton Transport Hub - Hobart, Australia.
- - Alice Springs intermodal terminal 
- - Dooen Inland Port - Dooen, Victoria, Australia
- - Warrnambool Inland Port - Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia
- - Shepparton Inland Port - Shepparton, Victoria, Australia
- - Altona Inland Port - Altona, Victoria, Australia
- - Somerton Inland Port - Somerton, Victoria, Australia
- - Direk Inland Port - Direk, South Australia
- - Wiri Inland Port - Auckland, New Zealand
- North America
- - CentrePort Canada - Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada -
- - Global Transportation Hub - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
- - Port Alberta - Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
- - SC Inland Port - Greer, South Carolina, USA
- North America
- US United States Army Corps of Engineers. Retrieved 27 July 2007.
- Inland Port vs. Container Port. Prepared by C.M. (Red) Williams, President of Saskatchewan Agrivision Corporation. Retrieved 27 July 2007.
- Leitner, Sara Jean; Harrison, Robert (2001). The Identification and Classification of Inland Ports. Center for Transportation Research, The University of Texas at Austin. p. 69. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
- Tororo Inland Port Under Construction
- "Port of Montreal".
- "Port of Quebec City".
- "GTO Inland Port".
- "Port of New Orleans".
- "Port of Richmond".
- "City of West Sacramento - Port of West Sacramento".
- About Virginia Inland Port
- Ettamogah Inland Port
- "Transport hub operator sought". Brighton Council. 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-08.
- Railway Digest October 2012, p18
- - opened Aug 2012/f-t11356716.htm About Dooen Inland Port
- About Warrnambool Inland Port
- About Direk Inland Port
- 2010 Track & Signal Autumn 2010, p8
- CentrePort Canada
- Port Alberta
- Greer 'inland port' may be new SC economic engine BusinessWeek March 2013
- About Martinsburg Inland Port