What Is a Freight Forwarder?
A freight forwarder is a company that arranges the shipping and storage of stock on behalf of its clients. Freight forwarders provide a comprehensive range of services, including tracking onshore transport, warehousing, arranging cargo insurance, securing cargo space, working out freight charges, filling out shipping and export documentation and freight consolidation. Freight forwarders will ship merchandise on their waybills, either by sea or air. They also work with third-party associates at various destinations worldwide to provide documentation, transport and other necessary services.
At their core, freight forwarders handle the commercial shipping of goods for other companies.
So what does that mean in terms of what a freight forwarder does?
What Does a Freight Forwarder Do?
Arranging international shipping is complex, with significant documentation and coordination required to handle it successfully. While freight forwarders handle all of the details, it is essential that you understand the role of a freight forwarder.
Freight forwarders act as intermediaries between a shipper and transportation services that might include ocean shipping, trucking, rail and expedited air freight. They work with several transport partners across multiple regions, countries and continents to ship merchandise.
A freight forwarding service will use already-established relationships with carriers to determine transport costs and shipping routes. They aim to choose economical routes that balance speed, price and reliability.
Transport is only part of the service that freight forwarders provide. They also have extensive knowledge of transport costs, banking practices, documentation and other regulations associated with shipping goods internationally. Forwarders leverage this knowledge to advise their clients on the most efficient and economical transportation route. Forwarders also handle tasks that would cause a considerable burden for clients, such as the logistics involved with shipping goods from one international destination to another.
Why Should I Work With a Freight Forwarder?
You can import and export goods on your own. However, importing and exporting merchandise involve a substantial amount of documentation and regulation that varies between countries. Partnering with international freight forwarders company ensures you can successfully ship goods worldwide.
Knowing the shipping companies, the documentation and the customs laws of various countries is a freight forwarder’s job. Working with an experienced freight forwarding company can help you save time and money and provide reliable product transportation at competitive rates.
Any company dealing in the international transportation of goods could benefit from a freight forwarder. It is advantageous, especially when in-house team members and resources are not fully equipped to handle international shipping procedures.
Some of the benefits of working with a freight forwarder include the following:
- Knowledge of shipping seasons
- Ancillary services like tracking
- Relationships with global partners
- Cargo tracking
- Excellent customer service
- Risk management and assessment
- International payment methods
Global Freight Forwarding
Freight forwarders rely on four types of transport when shipping freight around the world: air, ocean, rail and road freight. Each type of transport is necessary when exporting and importing goods.
Global freight forwarders make use of each type of freight to ship goods around the world. The type of freight will depend on the country being exported from or imported to. In many cases, a combination of all four is used to ensure that goods arrive on time and in the most economical way.
Some common countries that American businesses import from include:
Air freight forwarding ships cargo by air over large distances. Everyday items in air freight shipments include vehicles, food, manufacturing parts, clothes, electronics and more. The use of air freight is growing around the world as it is seen as port delays and other challenges impact ocean freight. Air freight is the fastest of all shipping methods.
Common air export destinations from the U.S. include:
- United Kingdom
Shipping cargo over the ocean is known as ocean or sea freight. Ocean freight is the most versatile of the shipping methods as it can handle large amounts of goods of varying sizes. It is more cost-effective than air freight but takes longer for goods to be shipped.
More oversized items or bigger loads that aren’t suitable for trucks are transported via train on railway systems. Rail freight is cheaper than air and ocean freight but takes longer to transport goods. It is a good alternative for transporting goods over large land distances without incurring high costs.
Road or ground freight is used to deliver goods within a country, to neighboring countries and between ports and distribution centers. Road freight is also the cheapest of all the freight methods. This specialized form of trucking regularly carries high-value goods and stock that requires refrigeration.
I’m wondering how much will be costed to ship a set of 4 pcs of 18″ SUV tires from Seattle to Hong Kong by ocean, the weight of each tire is about 65 pounds.
i need to know when i import good .does customs always check it up?if i use freight company.do we still worry about holding in customs?
yes all import consignment checked by customs , you may use forwarder or send through direct shipping line custom will check all consignment and if your commodity is negative list than your consignment will he held in customs
Some great advice here, international shipping can open up a lot of great business opportunities for you.
A freight forwarder is going to make anyone’s life easier when it comes to larger loads such as vehicles, RV’S, boats, and the like. The copious amount of subtle requirements to go through international borders can send anyone without any experience into a head spin. It is usually smarter to pay extra money ahead of time with a forwarding company, than have to pay double or more to make up the extra expenses that may arise. Thanks for the great article, we love to see knowledge being dropped to this detailed degree.
Cheers, CFR Rinkens
Do Freight Forwarders responsibilities overlap with those of Customs Agents? Are they the same thing?
A Customs Agent is a federal law enforcement officer whose primary responsibility is to protect and secure the U.S. Border.
A freight forwarder is an agent who acts on behalf of shippers to arrange the transportation of goods. Freight forwarders offer customs brokerage services (customs clearance, ISF filing, etc). This can sometimes require them to work with customs agents to resolve customs issues.
What is difference between freight forwader and co-loader
I have a contact in Brazil to ship to a US port. I need someone to handle the details on the US side. Is this something a freight forwarder would do or is there a better option for me?
A freight forwarder could handle the US side, but I would recommend hiring a forwarder to handle everything from the loading port (POL) in Brazil to your facility in the US.
Hi Hannah. Do i need freight forwarder if somebody ship goods to me from indonesia to USA. The weight is about 50lbs. Thanks
No, you do not need a freight forwarder for such a small shipment. You can use FedEx or UPS.
How do I know if I need a freight forwarder? What is the maximum weight of a shipment? Thanks
If you are inexperienced with international logistics, you may want to consider using a freight forwarder.
The maximum legal weight will depend on what kind of move you are looking to do.
A very good educational content. Simple yet very important to first timers in the industry. Thanks for posting this content.
It’s really a great information and now I know about the freight forwarder and the benefits of using this. international freight forwarders providing this type of service and you can know more about them.
I have a customer who has requested that we ship to a forwarder which we haven’t done before. As far as paperwork, do I still just need to provide the commercial invoice which will have the customers address on it? I just want to make sure it doesn’t get held up.
If the forwarder will be importing the goods on behalf of the client, then all shipment related documents will need to be issued with the forwarder’s name and address.
The forwarder will be able to tell you what documents are required and how they are to be issued.
It’s interesting to learn that when it comes to using a freight for shipping that there are some things that need to be kept in mind to make sure that the process is done smoothly. I like how you mentioned that people might want to consider hiring a forwarder to handle all of the logistics to make sure that it gets from one international destination to the other. This is something that I believe that they do more research on to help them be able to work everything out.
Seemingly in the current scenario, the evolution in the arena of corporate world has made Freight Forwarder Companies as the principal base in helping businesses to operate remarkably on universal level, because Freight organizations assist global businesses to function determinedly in regards with reaching out to masses with their products effectively.
Thank You for the information.
I like how you pointed out that freight forwarder services are not only doing shipping but also providing cargo insurance.
Thanks for the information. I’m curious about one aspect – “tracking inland transportation”, which i assume means being able to tell the shipper and potentially receiver, via one of several communications methods, about when the box will arrive and/or maybe its in-transit location. The business dictionary definition mentions “tracking inland transportation” prominently, but the text after that in “WHAT DOES A FREIGHT FORWARDER ACTUALLY DO?” does not mention it at all. How often is that service provided by a freight forwarder and is there an up charge for that piece? Thanks.
Thanks for all the great information,
I´m going to order 10 barstools, but the company in the US does not ship to Sweden so then a freight forwarder would be a good option for me then, I guess.
thanks and regards
What kind of documentation will a freight forwarder ask me for in order to help me get my product door to door?
Thank you, I learned much.
Well written articles like yours renews my faith in today’s writers. You’ve written information I can finally agree on and use. Thank you for sharing
A freight forwarder is an agent who acts on behalf of importers, exporters or other companies to organize the safe, efficient and cost-effective transportation of goods.
Hannah, Is there any required minimum required weight shipment for us to find Freight Forwarders? thank you
Do I list the Forwarder as the Importer on the NAFTA, I am shipping to a U.S Address to the forwarder but its final destination is to our customer in Mexico . Do I list the importer on the NAFTA as my customer or as the Forwarder that I am shipping to?
It’s important to know the difference between a freight forwarder and freight broker. Many of people often think they are the same but actually they are not.
The Freight forwarding blog was useful and valuable. Thanks for sharing this Information.
Very informative blog on freight forwarding services. A detailed one.
Thank you for explaining why you should use a freight forwarder. We are needing help with importing goods. We will look into hiring a freight forwarder for our imports.
I wonder if you can provide assistance if I would like to export products to Vietnam since my buyer does not want to deal with the importing process. looking forward for your reply. Thank you.
Hey, Interesting article to share with us, Very bit of the article is worth sharing
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Very informative blog on freight forwarding services. Its really nice and I appreciate your article. Thanks for sharing all that helpful information.
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Hi Jared Vineyard, thank you for sharing this helpful information about freight forwarder and yes importing and exporting are key components for many businesses. This is why freight forwarders come to make international shipping easy and fast. Anyway, thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing all that helpful information.