Looking for a freight forwarder definition? Companies use freight forwarders to ensure proper shipping of goods and merchandise. Freight forwarders take ownership of the shipping process by using their own paperwork and employees to ensure the following:

  • Document delivery
  • Deconsolidation
  • Freight collection services

The Basics of Freight Forwarding

The primary area of expertise for freight forwarding companies is in international shipping. However, they can also handle domestic shipping and warehousing. Freight forwarders have the expertise to ensure timely pickup of goods or merchandise and timely delivery to the purchasers of the merchandise or goods. They handle all aspects of the shipping process, including the following:

  • Tracking
  • Preparation
  • Shipping documents
  • Warehousing
  • Cargo space
  • Negotiations
  • Consolidation
  • Insurance
  • Insurance claims.

A freight forwarder serves as a contact between the manufacturer and different logistic companies. The following modes of transportation are used:

  • Ocean shipping
  • Trucking
  • Air freight
  • Rail

Freight forwarders use their relationship with the different shipping companies to negotiate favorable rates for their customers and ensure that shipping is done as economically as possible. Using a freight forwarder can also reduce the time that goods spend in transit and achieve a level of reliability that could not be achieved by the manufacturer of the goods.

Freight Forwarders Are an Asset to Companies

Freight forwarders take the burden away from the producers by taking on the arduous task of shipping, especially to international markets. Export.gov describes freight forwarders in the following manner: "To comply with export documentation and shipping requirements, many exporters utilize a freight forwarder to act as their shipping agent. The forwarder advises and assists clients on how to move goods most efficiently from one destination to another. A forwarder's extensive knowledge of documentation requirements, regulations, transportation costs and banking practices can ease the exporting process for many companies."

To completely understand what a freight forwarder does, one must know to understand what exactly a forwarder does not do. He does not move the goods but arranges for the movement of goods without physically touching them. Freight forwarders also handle the paperwork to insure the merchandise as well as customs paperwork and bill of ladings, further freeing up time for their clients.

Forwarders should be considered assets to any company dealing with the shipment of goods because they can reduce the need for hiring shipping experts to work for the company directly. They also free up company employees to focus on other aspects of the business.

Another advantage of using a freight forwarder is using their expertise to receive the best shipping at the lowest rates without the hassle of hiring employees internally. All businesses can use the expertise of forwarders as explained in the following statement from the website export.gov: "Whether the firm is large or small, the weight of the cargo light or heavy, the freight forwarder will take care of cargo from 'dock to door' if requested to do so. This can include the correct filing of export documentation, all arrangements with carriers, packing, crating and storage needs."

What Does It Take to Be a Freight Forwarder?

A freight forwarder must be able to navigate the different custom laws around the world and ensure that goods are delivered without delay. Without knowledgeable and dedicated employees, a freight forwarder will be unable to deliver the goods on time, and the freight forwarding companies cannot afford to have shipments delayed or worse yet lost in transit. The experience of the forwarder's company is an integral part of choosing the right firm for your shipping needs.

There are minimal requirements to become a freight forwarder. If a person is trustworthy and can show their ability to move goods through customs and around the globe, the clientele will hire them as a freight forwarder.

That does not mean that there is no requirement for documents to become a forwarder. There are always local regulations such as business licenses, tax forms, and customs documents that a company will be required to obtain. However, there are no special licensing or educational requirements.

The largest companies have all their own warehouses and offices, but a single person operation is possible due to the fact that a person can sub-lease those commercial facilities to ensure the movement of goods is done in a timely manner. There are a lot of different laws and modes of transportation the can be utilized as a freight forwarder, and the most successful forwarders are knowledgeable of every aspect and become assets for their customers.

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