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What Is Freight Forwarding?

A freight-forwarding service can handle the logistics of international importing and exporting.
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  • Written By: R. Kayne
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 30 March 2014
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Freight forwarding is a service used by companies that deal in international or multi-national import and export. While the freight forwarder doesn't actually move the freight itself, it acts as an intermediary between the client and various transportation services. Sending products from one international destination to another can involve a multitude of carriers, requirements and legalities. A freight forwarding service handles the considerable logistics of this task for the client, relieving what would otherwise be a formidable burden.

Freight forwarding services guarantee that products will get to the proper destination by an agreed upon date, and in good condition. The freight forwarding service utilizes established relationships with carriers of all kinds, from air freighters and trucking companies, to rail freighters and ocean liners. Freight forwarding services negotiate the best possible price to move the product along the most economical route by working out various bids and choosing the one that best balances speed, cost and reliability.

A freight forwarding service generally provides one or more estimates to the client along with advisement, when necessary. Considerations that effect price will range from origin and destination to special requirements, such as refrigeration or, for example, transport of potentially hazardous materials. Assuming the client accepts the forwarder's bid, the freight is readied for shipping. The freight forwarding service then undertakes the responsibility of arranging the transport from point of origin to destination.

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One of the many advantages of using freight forwarding is that it handles ancillary services that are a part of the international shipping business. Insurance and customs documentation and clearance are some examples. As a consolidator, a freight forwarding service might also provide Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC) documentation, or bills of lading. Warehousing, risk assessment and management, and methods of international payment are also commonly provided to the client by the freight forwarding service.

A good freight forwarding service can save the client untold time and potential headaches while providing reliable transportation of products at competitive rates. A freight forwarding service is an asset to almost any company dealing in international transportation of goods, and is especially helpful when in-house resources are not versed in international shipping procedures.

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Discuss this Article

anon355690
Post 27

To add, freight forwarding comes in different modes or forms. It can be via sea freight, air freight or land transport. In some cases, those three modes are utilized in a single transaction.

anon355686
Post 25

To add, freight forwarding comes in different modes or form. It can be via sea freight, air freight or land transport. In some cases, those three modes are utilized in a single transaction.

Sea Freight Philippines

anon329099
Post 23

If I want to ship from country A to country B, should I get a freight forwarder from country A or country B? Is there an advantage in that sense?

shipyeah
Post 18

This is a very descriptive article on freight forwarding! Also, a lot of freight forwarders also offer cargo insurance. Shipments can range in size from 1 piece weighing 150 pounds to full containers/truckloads. Freight forwarders will invoice you on either the actual or dimensional weight, whichever is greater.

anon293072
Post 15

I would like to know is whether it's easy or difficult to "organize" such cargo forwarding? Do the companies do it for you or you have to create the chain all by yourself?

anon180826
Post 14

Clear article, states clearly why we should choose an air freight forwarding company.

Divyesh Shah
Post 12

This is a good primer. Thanks for posting it. We help freight forwarders figure out how to cross-sell more of their services, so we try to keep up with conversations in the industry. Any more posts coming on international trade, keep us posted. Thanks, Divyesh

anon79395
Post 10

Great information.

anon64703
Post 8

Thanks for the info. we often use freight forwarder from USA to Australia,currently using FreightCare for all our sea freight and air freight.

anon48289
Post 6

A motor carrier with intrastate authority can haul freight as long as they stay within the state. It doesn't matter if the freight came from outside the state or is headed outside the state; as long as the motor carriers' pickup and destination are within the same state. Think about drayage companies. I'm pretty sure they don't need interstate authority, even though they are pulling containers that are coming from other countries.

anon39039
Post 5

The California trucker would be bound by the Federal motor Carrier Safety Administration, under a registered USDOT number as well as any state laws - he should provide his own insurance whose coverage is enough to extend to the freight forwarder as an "additional insured" in case of any negligence - it is the job of the freight forwarder to make sure the driver has his stuff in check - no worries!

anon37757
Post 4

you missed the point larraine. That is for the freight forwarder to figure out. it is impossible for a small company like ours to operate without a good one.

anon37300
Post 3

in response to larraine's question the answer is simple. Who cares as long as the goods get delivered

larraine
Post 1

Good information!

Can you answer this regarding regulations?

Do the individual carriers of the freight forwarder have to abide by federal (interstate) requirements because the freight is such?

For example: If the freight travels by one means (air) from NJ to CA, would the motor carrier that picked up the freight in Los Angeles be required to have 'inter'state authority, or would CA 'intra'state regulations apply?

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