Freight Forwarding

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What is Freight Forwarding?

Freight forwarding is the process of planning and arranging the transportation of goods both domestically and internationally for businesses or individuals without taking physical custody of the freight. Typical services include freight insurance, Customs brokerage, duty and documentation, strategic supply chain management, and tracking.

Freight forwarders are licensed as Non-Vessel-Operating Common Carriers (NVOCC’s) to act as an intermediary or “agent” between shippers and freight carriers and they provide expertise in all aspects of the shipping process.

While forwarding companies’ specific logistics services can vary, most provide air freight, ocean freight, trucking, rail or intermodal, and warehousing, storage, and distribution.

They will also provide all of the shipping documents needed to ensure that freight shipments move from origin to destination.

These essential documents required when forwarding freight should be provided by your forwarder.

The most common is a house bill of lading (HBL) or an Air Waybill for air freight.

An HBL is is the contract of carriage between the actual shipper and that actual consignee, while, an Air Waybill is a document used in air freight that provides shipment details and tracking information.

Additional documentation and services offered by forwarding agents should also include:

Your forwarder should help you with any documents you may need, however, you as the shipper are ultimately responsible for providing the correct shipping information from the start.

If anything changes, it is vital to update them with the latest information to prevent possible Customs holds and fines or additional fees.

A good freight forwarder should explain all of this upfront.

What does a freight forwarder do?


The process of importing and exporting goods is complex and requires extensive knowledge and expertise that would require companies to hire an entire department of highly trained staff.

In most cases, this is just simply not feasible or realistic.

This is where freight forwarding services come in.

A freight forwarding company acts as your very own supercharged shipping department. They have established partnerships and pricing contracts with different types of freight carriers to obtain discounted rates and services that they can offer to companies that utilize them.

Forwarders use their network of carriers to obtain the best combination of cost and reliability to offer shipping options to fit their customers’ specific needs and requirements.

They are experts in all aspects of international shipping and domestic inland transportation and can assist you in all aspects of the shipping process from route planning, rate negotiation, and documentation, to Customs brokerage, warehousing, and distribution.

If you are considering working with a forwarder you should have some questions prepared when you call so that you can be sure that you will be working with one that shares your company values.

If you don’t know what you should be looking for, take a look at our guide to changing forwarders.

Otherwise, give us a chance to show you that not all freight forwarding companies are equal.

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