A freight forwarder is a third party provider that plans the logistics, schedule, details and implementation of shipments from one location to the next. Logistics is the ability to smoothly and effectively organize the complex process of planning the flow, storage and delivery of goods and services from the point of origin to the final destination. A freight forwarder sends goods or services through some form of carrier such as a ship, airplane, truck, train or other vessel.
International freight forwarders move cargo to overseas destinations for exporters. They help to take care of the complex documentation required to import and export goods. The freight forwarding industry is becoming highly competitive, meaning companies are finding ways to streamline their services to attract and maintain the business of exporters.
Freight forwarders must know the rules and regulations of countries or other locations where they ship goods. They must have knowledge about the prices, charges, fees and other expenses related to each forwarding process. Some of the documents they handle include commercial invoices, export declarations and the bill of lading.
In a freight forwarding transaction a sender will contact a freight forwarder to make sure that the designated shipping dates are reasonable. This is to be sure that the goods will arrive at the correct shipping port, airport, or other designated location according to the dates on the shipping contract.
Depending on the country where the business is licensed, freight forwarders will be members of either a designated international association or licensed by appropriate communities or intermediary agencies.
Other duties of an freight forwarder include arranging for the packaging of goods or putting them in containers. Some actually pack merchandise to avoid against damage during transport. They also reserve space on the appropriate shipping vessels, and review and prepare freight documents such as the letter of credit. In international forwarding, they work with overseas customs brokers to assure that the forwarded goods meet the standards and regulations of the destination to which they are being sent. At the destination, freight forwarders make sure that the goods are delivered to the destination chosen by the sender.