Freight Forwarding: A Quick Guide

A freight forwarder’s job extends across the entire shipping journey. The work begins with providing the best available routes and rates, whether for domestic or international shipping. Then, once you’re ready to transport goods, freight forwarders will coordinate with all parties from the point of origin to the final destination to make sure the customer’s cargo arrives safely and on time.

Some of the responsibilities of a freight forwarder include: 

  • Dealing with necessary documentation and customs clearance procedures 
  • Organising the pick-up and delivery process 
  • Tracking your shipment and providing regular updates
  • Arranging for space on the shipping carrier’s vessel 

As a leading marketplace for freight quotes, SeaRates.com can help you connect with the right forwarder for your shipping needs. 


The Players:

When it comes to ocean freight shipment, there are different players involved in the process. Each party plays an important role and has their own set of responsibilities to ensure that the cargo is delivered from Point A to Point B. Here are the key individuals involved in international shipping: 

  • The freight forwarder: A forwarder is the connecting bridge between a shipper and receiver. They deal with moving items from port to port and other transport hubs using the roads, air or sea. Freight forwarders oversee the whole process of shipping and they also offer door to door delivery. They can handle all logistics of international trade for you from booking cargo space to the tracking of goods and negotiating charges. 
  • The freight broker: A freight broker is an intermediary between the shipper and shipper’s service carrier. They help to facilitate communication between you and the carrier. Working with a broker means you don't have to negotiate for prices with the carrier or worry about route planning and tracking the freight. They can assist you in finding the right carrier and provide regular updates about your cargo. 
  • The shipping carrier: A carrier transports goods from the point of origin to the final destination. They are responsible for any loss of goods or damages incurred during transportation. 
  • The customs broker: A customs broker is a licenced individual who ensures that your shipment meets all the regulations for the transport of goods. They know entry procedures, rates of duty, taxes and other payments. The customs broker is a representative of the customs department in the country of import. If your shipment does not meet the requirements for customs clearance, it can be held at the port indefinitely or confiscated. 


Freight Forwarding: The Core Services

  • Warehousing: This is an important component when it comes to supply chain management. Freight forwarders all over the world use warehouses to store goods and cargo. In addition to storage, forwarders also pack and prepare the goods for transportation at their warehouses. Freight forwarders have different types of warehouses depending on the goods that are stored, like raw manufacturing materials, finished goods, climate-controlled warehouses and more. 
  • Customs Brokerage: This refers to the process of facilitating the transport of goods across international borders. Since different countries operate under different rules for transport, freight forwarders can help you with customs clearance at each point of entry and exit. They effectively communicate with the border agents and governments to ensure that your shipment has followed all the right procedures. 
  • Documentation: When you’re shipping your cargo internationally, the paperwork can be quite extensive. There are different documents required, including Bill of Lading, Letters of Credit, Certificate of origin and more. 
  • Cargo Space: It is important to use the right carrier for the shipment of your cargo and that’s where a freight forwarder can help. They have the knowledge and skills to negotiate with carriers for optimal cargo space and secure an effective schedule. They can also provide you with various options for intermodal shipping. 
  • Cargo Insurance: Cargo insurance indicates that the cost of your cargo will be covered if it incurs any damages or gets stolen in transit. Depending on your shipment, freight forwarders can assist you in getting better insurance coverage for your goods. They also offer services when it comes to filing an insurance claim. Visit SeaRates.com to request cargo insurance rates
  • Cargo Tracking: Freight forwarders use a variety of tools and software for tracking your cargo. Whether it’s air, sea or land transportation, forwarders can track your shipment during each stage of transit. 


REQUEST FREIGHT QUOTE 


Choose the Right Freight Forwarder: A Checklist

Selecting the right freight forwarder can make all the difference for a successful shipment. Here are some things you should keep in mind: 

  • Type of shipment: Depending on the type of your shipment, you will need a specialised forwarder to transport your cargo. For example, if you are looking to ship dangerous goods, you will need to find specific freight forwarding companies that deal with hazardous materials. 
  • Global Network through freight forwarding associations: Since freight forwarders are responsible for the shipping process from start to finish, it is essential that they have a strong network of connections on a global scale. The forwarder needs to have contacts in the country to where you are shipping your cargo. This allows for transparency and effective communication during the transit process. Connect with freight forwarders from all the over the world with our Digital Freight Alliance membership. 
  • Cost: A freight forwarder who has a good industry experience and strong relationship with shipping agents and carriers will be able to provide you with the best cost-effective options. They are the ones who are likely to find the best deals for you for shipping your goods. 


Who are the Top Ocean Freight Forwarders?

Ocean freight forwarders are those that specialise in the transport of goods through cargo ships. They have expert knowledge about the shipping process and can assist you with documentation and the customs procedure. 

These are the top 5 freight forwarders in Asia, Europe and North America: 


Rank   2020 
Company
Headquarters
Ocean Containers
1Kuehne + Nagel Inc.
Switzerland
4,861,000
2Sinotrans Ltd.
China
3,740,000
3DHL Supply Chain
Germany
3,207,000
4DB Schenker USA
Germany
2,260,000
5Panalpina Inc.
Switzerland
1,907,000

 

Do you need a freight forwarder? 

It can be risky to arrange for a shipment without the help of a freight forwarder. The shipping process is a tedious one and requires the services of someone with industry experience and knowledge. Starting from the documentation and booking cargo space to customs procedures at the cargo’s destination, there are quite a few things to be cautious about, and this is where a freight forwarder can help. 

Much like any business, strong and effective communication is key to building a relationship with your freight forwarder. This ensures that you will receive a reliable freight service throughout all stages of transit. 


How to Request Freight Quotes 

Once your cargo is ready to be packed, you’ll need to optimise the space for your cargo to ensure that all your goods will be stuffed properly. Our SeaRates’ Freight Calculator is a web-based tool that provides a 3D simulation as to how the items will be packed into the container. 

After your goods are packed, you can get freight quotes from all over the world when selecting a forwarder for your shipment. To get the most accurate quotes at a quicker pace, it is best to provide all the required information upfront. Here are some of the details you need to provide when requesting a freight quote: 

  • Contact Information: The full addresses of both the pick-up location and the cargo’s final destination must be provided. Other information like the port of origin and landing port may also be needed. 
  • Cargo Details: The details of your shipment like total weight, dimensions and volume are necessary. You will also have to mention whether your shipment contains pallets or stacks. 
  • Commodity Description: The product names and their codes as listed on the commercial invoice must be provided. You may also be asked to give a full list of all the items, as mentioned in the shipment’s packing list. 

Once you have selected your freight forwarder, it is important to arrange a meeting and discuss next steps regarding your shipment. They need to send you the required documents for the paperwork and inform you about shipment updates and any potential issues regarding the cargo. 

Lilia Khovrak is a professional content manager from Odessa, Ukraine. Loves life by the sea. Dreams to see Paris and eat a croissant on the thresholds of Notre Dame de Paris. Hates to read meaningless articles.


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