If you’ve ever had to ship something across the country or around the world, you’ve probably heard of a freight forwarder. But what is a freight forwarder? And how can they help you? This guide will explain everything you need to know about this service and why it’s important to know whether your shipment needs one.
What Is a Freight Forwarder?
A freight forwarder is a special type of logistics service provider—they’re a third-party logistics (3PL) company that helps move cargo from one place to another. Freight forwarders are experts at international shipping, so they can help you with all your shipping needs, whether it’s domestic or international.
Freight forwarders are different from freight brokers in that they provide value-added services to their clients, such as documentation, customs clearance and compliance issues and clearance of large shipments through customs ports and airports.
Types of Freight Forwarders
There are several types of freight forwarders, each offering different services. A full-service freight forwarder will typically handle all aspects of a shipment, including customs clearance and other documentation requirements. However, if you have an established relationship with another company or agency that handles your shipping needs, then it may be advantageous to use a broker instead.
Brokers are also known as “customs brokers,” because they deal primarily with international trade regulations and tariffs. They can provide valuable information about import/export laws in different countries and offer advice on how to maximize profits while minimizing costs (for example by selecting the right shipping method).
A third type—known as an NVOCC (non-vessel operating common carrier)—handles only transportation logistics: booking cargo space on ships or planes for clients who don’t own any transport equipment themselves.
What Does a Freight Forwarder Do?
A freight forwarder is a middleman between the shipper and the carrier. It’s their job to negotiate rates and contracts with carriers, as well as handle customs clearance. A good freight forwarder will offer additional value-added services like document management, tracking and tracing.
Some Facts about Freight Forwarding
Freight forwarding is a service that provides a range of shipping options, from using the cheapest method to getting your products to their destination quickly. It can also include handling paperwork, clearing customs, and more.
The freight forwarder will often be working with one or more specific companies that have contracts with them. For example, if you are an American business selling products in Europe and want them shipped there by sea container, your company might use several different freight forwarders based on what services they offer at the best price.
An Impartial Party
The freight forwarder is an impartial party that has no ownership of the goods being shipped.
The freight forwarder is not a carrier, meaning they do not own the vehicle used to transport the cargo. In addition, they do not directly provide transportation services for their customers.
Instead, a freight forwarder’s role is to coordinate all aspects of international shipments from beginning to end: booking space on a vessel or flight (known as “freight”), arranging for customs clearance and insurance coverage, collecting payment from shippers and/or consignees; then releasing shipments at their destination port or airport terminal in accordance with local regulations.
Negotiating Rates and Contracts
Once you’ve found a freight forwarder that you like, it’s time to negotiate the best price, terms and method of shipping for your shipment. You probably have an idea of what kind of service you need based on the type of product being shipped and its destination, but it doesn’t hurt to get some quotes from different providers before selecting one. This will also help ensure that your choice is in line with your budget, which is especially important if this is a one-off delivery or if there are other factors contributing to your decision (like limited cash flow).
Freight Forwarding and Customs Clearance
As a shipper, you are responsible for making sure your cargo is cleared through customs. To do this, you must fill out the necessary paperwork and submit it to the appropriate authorities.
A freight forwarder can help you with these tasks and more—from arranging travel documents and handling regulatory requirements to managing paperwork throughout the process. They also know how to avoid paying duties or taxes on imported goods when shipping cargo abroad by coordinating with customs officials in both countries so that clearance happens quickly and efficiently.
Offering Additional Value-Added Services
It’s important to know that many freight forwarders offer additional value-added services. These services can make your business run more smoothly and save you time, money, and stress. These types of services include:
– Customs clearance (loading and unloading shipments)
– Warehousing (storing goods until they’re ready for distribution)
– Packing (boxing up goods for shipping)
– Unpacking/receiving incoming shipments from overseas
Documenting and Tracking Cargo
Documentation and tracking are both important for a freight forwarder to do. They help prevent the loss, which is what happens when you have cargo in your care and it gets lost or stolen. You can also use documentation to prove that they were the ones responsible for giving your cargo to someone else (and not you). That way, if something goes wrong with their shipping process, they’re the ones getting punished—not you!
Documentation helps ensure that customs will be able to find out where exactly your shipment came from, who owns it now, how much duty needs to be paid on any exported items inside of it (if any) and other important details about its journey through international waters or borders.
Knowing what freight forwarders do is important if you need your item shipped or have to deal with shipping.
Freight forwarders are a crucial part of the shipping process. They’re the middlemen between shippers and carriers, handling paperwork, arranging pickup and delivery, and negotiating rates and contracts. Freight forwarders also help with customs clearance, documentation and tracking cargo from origin to destination.
In fact, freight forwarders often provide more services than just those mentioned above—some can even coordinate additional logistics like insurance or consolidation (which means combining multiple shipments into one shipment).
Now that you know what a freight forwarder does, it’s time to start looking for one. There are many options out there, but we recommend going with an international company like ours. We have years of experience in the industry and work with all types of cargo from around the world—including yours! If there’s anything else we can help answer before getting started please feel free to contact us today so we can assist in any way possible.