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What Exactly Do Freight Forwarders Do?

What Exactly Do Freight Forwarders Do? 

Importing and exporting goods is essential for many businesses. However, international shipping can be a lucrative, yet complicated process. That’s where freight forwarding comes in.

You can think of a freight forwarder as a travel agent for shipments. Forwarders act on behalf of the individual or company to organize and manage the transportation of goods. Forwarders specialize in facilitating international commerce and make use of existing relationships with carriers to negotiate the best rates for moving goods. 

What is freight forwarding?

Freight forwarding is the planning and coordinating of the movement of goods across international borders via air, marine, rail, or highway. 

What services do freight forwarders offer?

Freight forwarders offer a variety of services including:

  • Ocean or air freight transportation
  • Preparation of documentation
  • Negotiating freight rates with carriers
  • Arranging for the packaging and safe handling of your goods 
  • Booking cargo space
  • Cargo insurance and customs compliance
  • Tracking the shipments and providing updates to clients

The main responsibility of a freight forwarder is to make sure goods arrive at their final destination efficiently, safely, and in the most cost-effective way for their client. 

What are the benefits of hiring a freight forwarder?

In-Depth Knowledge and Networks

Freight forwarders offer in-depth industry knowledge that can be beneficial should any unforeseen issues arise. Shipments can be delayed for a variety of reasons, including: port closure due to inclement weather, vehicle issues, ports being back up, and more. A reputable freight forwarding company has a large network with strong relationships at every stage of the transport. Their network and expertise will ensure the shipment continues to move smoothly during all points of the journey. 

International shipments often require more than one mode of transportation. Freight forwarders have in-depth knowledge of shipping and transportation modes (air, ground, ocean), and the rules applicable to each mode. Additionally, freight forwarders are experts in preparing your goods for customs clearance by preparing the necessary documents and ensuring each document is complete and accurate. 

Streamlined Supply Chain

It can be difficult to keep track of commodities across a global network when shipping internationally, particularly when a variety of shipping modes are being used. Freight forwarders can help you keep track of this information easily so you know where your shipment is located at all times. 

Because most freight forwarding companies offer transportation services, customs services, warehouse services, and tracking services, freight forwarders streamline the supply chain to make the entire process much smoother. 

Cost Saving

Freight forwarders use existing relationships to negotiate the lowest price for shipments and cargo moves. Additionally, the one price you pay to your freight forwarder covers everything from booking transport, arranging pick-up, preparing required documents, customs clearance, warehouse planning and storage, and coordination of the delivery to the destination. 

What’s the difference between a freight forwarder and a freight broker?

Freight forwarders manage the international door-to-door logistics of shipments and handle any issues that may arise in transit. 

Freight brokers, on the other hand, only handle transportation in a specific country. They won’t be able to assist if any customs delay occurs or international shipping issues arise. Freight brokers also don’t take any responsibility or possession of freight.

How Should I Choose a Freight Forwarder?

When choosing a freight forwarder, the first thing you should check is if they’re licensed. In Canada, there’s no licensing requirements to set up a freight forwarding business, however, most freight forwarding companies are certified. Many freight forwarders are members of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA), which has been around since 1948. Additionally, if your shipment requires handling of dangerous goods, your freight forwarder must be adequately trained and hold certifications under Canada’s Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Act and Regulations

The next step when choosing a freight forwarder is to ensure they have a large network of international agents as well as experience in the industry. This will ensure a smooth delivery of commodities, even when unforeseen circumstances arise. 

The last step when choosing a freight forwarder is to check what services you need and what services they provide. Not all freight forwarding companies offer the same services. Make sure your freight forwarding company offers integrated service, such as packing, warehouse planning, customs clearance, and more.