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Overcoming the Complexities of International Freight

Oct 09, 2010

Have you ever tried to handle the details of an international freight shipment by air to Bombay or by sea to a European port?  Putting the transaction together for shipments like these, even if they are straightforward by international freight standards, seems to require a master’s degree in logistics and global trade.   The deluge of details, the pile of paperwork and the rigorous rules and regulations found in each country create a challenging obstacle to getting your freight shipped and delivered to its destination on time.

ocean.jpgThe good news is that all of these details are the everyday work of companies known as freight forwarders, transportation brokers or forwarding agents.  Developing a relationship with a trustworthy agent will allow you to overcome the complexities of shipping international freight by allowing the freight forwarder to handle the details.  Let’s take a look how they work.

First of all, a freight forwarder has relationships with companies that ship via air, sea and rail.  Therefore you’ll receive a freight quote based on the most economical or expeditious means of getting your consignment to your foreign customer.  When shipments require more than one method of transportation, for instance being shipped by sea to a foreign port and then by rail to its final destination, the agent will coordinate the details of timing, possible warehousing and handling.  If the cargo needs to be divided at some point, this can also be arranged.  Your freight quote will reflect all the factors required in the process run through a full-spectrum freight calculator.  This freight calculator might also be available for you to use as you consider your shipping needs.  The freight forwarder will likely have a freight calculator on their website which is software that walks you through all the components of your anticipating international freight shipment.  You plug in the details and receive an itemized quote in just a few moments that takes into consideration the freight class, volume, value of the goods, special handling needs, insurance, distance and much more.

Secondly, your freight forwarder will find room for your load on a shipping vessel based on its volume and weight.  Most international freight transportation brokers use Lcl or Ltl carriers when your load would not fill up an entire shipping container or truck container.  They work with many different shippers and will be able to find the right amount of space for your consignment on the right type of vessel, at the best possible price.

Thirdly, the freight class of your goods will also be taken into account since there are many freight class categories with different handling requirements, for example, that will produce differing rates.  Just a few of these freight classes include those for fresh or frozen food, liquids, hazardous material, and fragile cargo.  Using Ltl carriers is one of the most cost effective ways to ship international freight because you only pay for the space you use.  Bargains can be had when a shipper is trying to round out a load.  Your forwarding agent will know how to find the best freight quote from the actual Ltl carriers.

In addition, your forwarding agent will understand the specific rules and regulations for each destination country.  If you ship international freight to more than one company the chances are high that they will have significantly different policies covering the transportation of goods.  Rather than having to figure out these complexities yourself, the international freight forwarder will know the requirements and will take care of the needed paperwork on your behalf as part of the freight quote they supply you with.  When comparing the freight quote from various transportation brokers, be sure that each one is covering the same details for an “apples to apples” comparison.

Shipping international freight is one of those business processes that is best left to the experts who do it day in and day out.  When you connect with freight forwarders or transportation brokers you trust you have found an asset you can rely on to take the complexities out of getting your international freight to the world’s marketplace.