A freight forwarder is a company that specializes in helping shippers (often called consignees) arrange for the importing and exporting of their goods. The freight forwarder itself does not actually move your freight, but acts as an intermediary between you and the various transportation carriers you can utilize (i.e. air, ocean, road, rail and/or intermodal).
Freight forwarders have established relationships with carriers, enabling them to recommend the best balance of speed, cost and reliability when moving your goods. They also handle the considerable and sometimes complex, logistics of transporting goods across borders. A good forwarder has extensive knowledge of Customs documentation requirements, country codes and regulations, transportation costs and international banking practices.
What are freight services they can provide:
- Preparation of shipping and export documents
- Booking cargo space
- Negotiating freight charges
- Storage and warehousing
- Tracking transportation
- Freight consolidation/deconsolidation
- Assistance with cargo insurance
How Do I Know if I Need a Freight Forwarder?
The complex processes, paperwork and regulations required for international trade can be intimidating to those unfamiliar with them. This is where a freight forwarder can be an invaluable asset.
Regardless the size of your company or the type of goods you ship, a good freight forwarder will be an end-to-end provider who leads your cargo from origin to destination. It’s their job to know the shipping companies, documentation procedures and customs laws of various countries.
Though a freight forwarder is not required for importing or exporting goods, they can be tremendously valuable to companies dealing in the international transportation of goods. They can be especially helpful if your in-house resources are not as informed on international shipping procedures.
Freight forwarders typically charge modest rates for their services, but also have access to shipping discounts. Bottom line: choosing the right freight forwarding provider can save you untold time, eliminate considerable headaches and provide a reliable transportation experience for you and your goods.