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International Freight Forwarding

Oct 09, 2010

When you first decide to ship international freight overseas or across borders you quickly discover that the process is much more complicated than shipping interstate or intrastate.  The logistics involved can make your head spin until someone suggests the obvious – “Let’s use an international freight forwarding company to handle the details!”   Let’s take a look at what these transportation brokers do to simplify the job for you and oversee the details.

07-300x213.jpgThe bottom line is that an international freight forwarding company will provide a freight quote that takes all the important variables into account.  The bigger picture is that this transportation broker will handle the long logistics checklist while guaranteeing that your international freight gets to the proper destination in good condition within a specified period of time.  This is no easy task and to accomplish it the freight forwarder develops relationships with a wide variety of carriers including rail freighters, air carriers and ocean freighting companies.  All the details are taken into consideration – the distance the cargo is travelling, the most economical means, and the most expeditious route.  The forwarder acts as a transportation broker and receives bids from reliable companies with a proven track record of successfully and promptly moving cargo from point A to point B whether across national borders or to overseas ports.

To crunch the numbers the freight forwarding company uses a tool known as a freight calculator which is a comprehensive system that factors in all of the logistical details, the bids from shipping contractors and ancillary costs such as the type and amount of insurance you require.  They then put all the costs together into the single freight quote that they deliver to you.  More than one bid may be offered by the company usually based on the speed with which you need to get your cargo to its destination.  One freight quote might include expedited international freight on the next ship out of port while a second, for example, might give you a freight quote for shipping your cargo on the proverbial slow boat to China.  In addition, for smaller shipments they will work with Ltl carriers to find the most affordable, safest way to transport your cargo.

The freight quote can include costs for warehousing your goods or getting them from the port or railway to their final destination.  If the consignment needs to be disassembled in one port and sent in different directions on ltl carriers the freight forwarding company will arrange the details.

Many of these transportation brokers will also offer consultation regarding best shipping practices and the rules and regulations of each destination country.  These regulations differ in significant ways and failing to comply will likely cause major delays in having your cargo delivered to your foreign distributors.  The complexities of shipping international freight include substantial documentation required for each load.  Many transportation brokers will handle these details for you and factor the paperwork into their freight quote.  For example, they often provide NVOCC documentation – Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier – which is known as the bill of lading.  Since you are using the services of international companies the forwarding service will often provide you with methods of international payment that insure an accurate exchange rate and will guarantee disbursement to each service provider.  When you receive your freight quote be sure you understand all the services that go into the final figure so that unexpected costs don’t arise that take a bite out of your anticipated profits.

This is just an overview of the multi-dimensional service provided by freight forwarding companies or transportation brokers and by no means covers all that they do for their clients on a daily basis.  The best of them simplify for you what would otherwise be a maze of complicated transactions requiring in-house specialists with significant experience, to say nothing of the need for translation services for spoken and written communication.  When you develop a relationship with a reputable and proven company it will serve as one of your greatest assets and may give you a competitive edge in foreign markets.