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What To Expect From A Freight Forwarder

Oct 18, 2010

When international markets beckon and you see a world full of sales potential for your products the first step to grasping the opportunity is to establish a relationship with a respected international freight forwarder.  These transportation brokers are experts in moving international freight and take the guesswork and the hassle out of the equation.  This allows you to focus on product development, manufacturing and marketing.

International-Air-Freight-Forwarding-150x150.jpgWhat can you expect from the freight forwarder you select?  Let’s take a look.  These multi-tasking agents truly cover the entire spectrum of details involved in moving international freight around the globe.  Interview several of them as well as their references before determining the one you will use.  If you find a rock-solid international freight forwarder you will find an invaluable partner for your business ventures.

1. Expect your freight forwarder to handle all transportation logistics in their role as transportation brokers.  This may not sound like much if you’ve been used to getting a freight quote or two from small Ltl carriers to ship goods from your manufacturing plant to other U.S. locations.  But the international freight game is far more complicated.  These agents must have thorough knowledge of U.S. export laws but also the differing laws, rules and regulations of countries throughout the world – and these are by no means universal.  To attempt to master these rules in-house would overwhelm your shipping department – and would be unnecessary since these freight forwarders routinely negotiate these issues.

Every aspect of the logistics will be covered and factored into the freight quote put together by a comprehensive freight calculator.  The international freight forwarder will have established relationships with air carriers, rail transport companies and ocean freight carriers, including Ftl and Ltl carriers.  They will cover every aspect of transportation from the point the load leaves your shipping dock to the time it arrives at the receiving dock of your foreign buyer.

2. Expect help with the details.  Your international freight forwarder will be well-versed in handling all the paperwork required including the commercial invoice and the declaration of origin.  Each destination country will require local documentation, too.  If you want the forwarder to produce and submit the paperwork they will do so and include the cost in your freight quote so that no detail is overlooked.

3. Expect an accurate freight quote that covers every factor.  When you decide to ship international freight many dynamics need to be taken into consideration.  They include the possible need for warehousing your goods during the process, the freight class your goods fit into, the use of Ltl carriers for smaller loads, insurance to cover risk, possible taxes and tariffs, special needs like refrigeration or security for hazardous materials, payment to foreign service providers, and much more.  Of course, the distance and the type of carrier – air, rail or ocean liner – are also major components of the freight quote.  Most freight forwarders and transportation brokers will supply you with more than one freight quote by inputting different modes of transportation into their freight calculator.  That way, you can decide whether getting the goods to market more quickly is worth the extra shipping expenses you will incur.

4. Expect practical consultation.  Freight forwarders should have a good grasp of the nuances of shipping international freight anywhere in the world including Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Australia and South America.  If you are looking for advice on the best way to handle aspects of your shipment they gladly provide consultation to their clients, including information on risks and dangers associated with various world hot spots for trouble.  Somali pirates are just one of the potential threats involved when you ship international freight.

As you begin the process of turning your international freight into profits the best way to optimize your margins will be to save money on shipping, warehousing, insurance and all the other details involved.  The right freight forwarder will be the one and perhaps the only call you’ll need to make to keep your freight quote at a minimum while receiving the quality of service that will deliver your international freight safely and promptly to its destination.