Freight forwarding is one of the most popular methods of international transport, not only for business but for personal use, too. Freight forwarding companies, like the International Logistics Centre, are in charge of coordinating the shipment of goods between two destinations. In order to do this, they use a range of carriers, including air freight, road freight, ocean freight and, occasionally, railway freight. Freight forwarding might seem like a confusing process, but these thirteen facts you need to know about freight forwarding will help you through the procedure.

  1. What is a freight forwarder? Freight forwarders are responsible for transporting goods between two destinations. Freight forwarding companies arrange the whole process for their shippers, from storing the goods to shipping them internationally. Freight forwarders are intermediaries between the shippers and transportation services, negotiating with a range of carriers in order to achieve the most economical, reliable and fastest route.
  2. Free from hassle. Freight forwarders take the stress and hassle out of importing and exporting goods. They are extremely experienced in all of the elements of supply chain and can assist on all levels. From the packing and warehouse stages to navigating the customs procedure – freight forwarders take some of the pressure away from you.
  3. They provide a range of services. Freight forwarders provide a range of services and can assist with the whole supply chain process on multiple levels, including:
  • Customs
  • Documentation for international exports and imports
  • Insurance
  • Packaging
  • Storing goods
  • Inventory management 
  1. Can benefit your business. Using a freight forwarding company to transport goods to your consumer can be a huge benefit to your business. Freight forwarders will use their extensive knowledge and expertise to ensure that your goods arrive at their final destination on time, as well as negotiating the best prices – helping you to save money in the process.
  2. They cannot control shipping delays. Although it’s annoying when your goods are delayed during the shipping process, your freight forwarder is not responsible for these hold ups. Delays in shipping can occur due to bad weather, breakdowns, port delays or unanticipated changes in route. Your freight forwarding company will work to resolve the issue as soon as they can in order to get your goods to their final destination.
  3. You should build a relationship with your freight forwarder. Your freight forwarder is responsible for ensuring that your precious cargo reaches its destination safely, so it’s certainly advantageous to maintain a good relationship with them. When choosing a freight forwarding company, you want to make sure that you can trust and rely on them. It’s always advisable to work with a company with excellent customer service to ensure that you are given updates on your goods throughout the shipment process, giving you peace of mind.
  4. Up-to-date paperwork is essential. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you have completed all of the paperwork for transporting your goods before handing them over to your freight forwarder. It’s an essential step in the process to reduce the risk of your items being held in customs or the bank not releasing your funds. If you’re not entirely sure which paperwork needs to be completed, your freight forwarding company will be able to help you with this.
  5. Certain products are restricted. When it comes to shipping goods internationally, freight forwarders have to adhere to strict regulations and are unable to ship certain goods and substances. This is especially prevalent for air and sea freight and the list of prohibited items will vary according to the final destination. Freight forwarders are generally restricted on:
  • Dangerous goods (including toxic goods and flammable liquid)
  • Drugs (both recreational and prescription)
  • Alcohol
  • Batteries
  • Perishable goods (depending on the delivery type)
  • Sharp objects
  1. Ask about extra services. Your freight forwarding company might provide extra services, so it’s advisable to find out about these when receiving a quote. These additional services vary, but generally include; warehouse storage, cargo insurance, cargo tracking and the handling of dangerous goods. Even if your business doesn’t currently require these additional services, it’s always advisable to find out about them for future reference.
  2. There are six main steps of freight forwarding. Although the freight forwarding process might seem complicated, the whole process can be broken up into six key steps, including:
  • Export haulage – This first step involves transferring goods from their original source to the freight forwarders’ warehouse.
  • Export customs clearance – This is the important step for international shipping. This is when the goods receive clearance to leave their country of origin.
  • Origin handling – Once the goods have received clearance, they will be unloaded from the warehouse, inspected and validated against their booking documents.
  • Import customs clearance – The authorities will check the customs paperwork for the goods.
  • Destination handling – This involves the handling of the goods once they reach their destination and includes the transfer of the goods to the import warehouse.
  • Import haulage – The final step in the freight forwarding process involves the transfer of the cargo from the import warehouse to the final destination.
  1. You should be provided with a range of documents. Freight forwarding involves an extensive amount of research. Your freight forwarder will provide you with all of the essential documents, including:
  • Commercial invoices
  • Bill of Lading contract
  • Inspection certificates
  • Export license
  • Shippers export declaration documents
  • Export packing list
  • Certificate of origin statement

It’s important to ensure that you receive all of these documents from your freight forwarder. Not only will they help you to ensure that the final customer receives their goods, but it will also cover you should any problems arise.

  1. A strong network is essential. When choosing a freight forwarder, it’s advisable to go with a company who are well-established with a strong network of contacts. By going with an experienced freight forwarder, you’ll be able to receive the best quote for the shipment of your goods, as well as ensuring that they reach their destination in a timely manner. Experienced freight forwarders will have encountered an array of problems over the years, so they should be able to deal with any problems with your shipment quickly, easily and professionally, should they arise.
  2. Choose a specialist freight forwarder. Most freight forwarders are experienced in dealing with a variety of goods, however, some companies specialise in specific types of cargo. It would be beneficial to find a freight forwarder who specialises in your type of goods. Not only will they be experienced in dealing with your cargo type, but they will also have a team of specialists on board who are used to dealing with cargo similar to yours.

Finding the right logistics company for you involves a lot of research. Your chosen company will be able to ensure that your goods get to their final destination in the most timely, economical manner possible.

Author´s Bio:  The international Logistics Centre is a family-run freight forwarding business. They are passionate about providing their customers with a first-rate service from start to finish. From their skilled drivers to their experienced office staff – the International Logistics Centre will provide you with the best service, no matter what you require.

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This is a guest post written by one of our contributors.