If you’re new to the import/export industry, there’s a good chance that you have some questions about freight forwarding. For some people, it will come as a surprise that you don’t just deal directly with the shipping companies. For others, there will be questions about the process and the best way to make things work. And that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with

#1 What is a freight forwarder?

Freight forwarders essentially work as an intermediary. Their role is to coordinate the movement of large containers of goods between suppliers and the transportation companies that will move them. Whether that be via road, sea, rail or air.

#2 What exactly do freight forwarders do?

In short, the freight forwarder’s job is to handle all aspects of transportation on behalf of their clients. They find the best prices and the shortest/quickest routes. They deal with import/export paperwork, customs clearance and insurance. Many will also arrange the storage of goods.

#3 Why do I need to consider working with a freight forwarder?

Unless you have a lot of free time and a lot of industry knowledge, transporting goods anywhere is a big and complicated job. There are many plates to spin. If you have a dedicated team who can keep track of all the nitty gritty pertaining to your shipments, then you don’t need a freight forwarder. If you are intending an ad hoc approach, then a freight forwarding service is the best idea. It’s too easy to fall foul of legislature. And the last thing you want is for customs to seize your shipment because you’ve failed to dot the i’s.

#4 Do freight forwarders handle all cargo?

No. Every country has its own list of prohibited goods. If you’re trying to send something you shouldn’t be, a freight forwarder will not work with you. As a general rule, it’s also reasonable to assume that drugs, flammable items, toxic items, weapons, and alcohol will be refused.

#5 Can I send perishable goods via a freight forwarder?

If you’re willing to use an express service, most freight forwarders will handle perishable goods. However, it’s important to note, that your freight forwarding service can not be held responsible for shipping delays. If there’s a strike in your country of destination, roadblocks, or bad weather, it is beyond their control. They will work to ensure that things get moving as soon as possible. But, sometimes soon is not soon enough. That said, it’s worth bearing in mind that you’d face the same problems if organising your freight directly.

If you’re working at volume, a reliable freight forwarder can be a hugely valuable business connection. They can save you time, money and stress. If you find a good one, they will treat your cargo as if it were their own. Do your research. Seek reviews. And enjoy a beneficial relationship.