Best Freight Forwarding Tips 2020

We all know how overwhelming shipping your freight can be. There’s a lot of aspects to take into account.  For example, choosing freight forwarders that have the most experience with the best references. Here, in this article, we’re going to discuss the best freight forwarding tips so you can feel confident about choosing a freight forwarder.

What exactly is freight forwarding?

Freight forwarders in the industry are responsible for shipping of goods from one destination to another. Freight forwarding company’s whole purpose is to arrange the process for their clients with anything from the storage process to the shipping of their goods. They act as a mediator between the client and transportation services, connecting with various carriers to negotiate on the price and decide on the most economical, reliable and fastest route.

Simple things to think about

International freight forwarding companies abide by strict regulations. Shipping restrictions apply to certain products, goods, and substances, particularly by air or sea freight. These restrictions may vary from country to country but freight forwarders are generally prohibited from carrying: Although the list of prohibited items varies from country to country, freight forwarders are generally restricted on:

  • Prescription drugs
  • Recreational drugs
  • Dangerous items – things that are highly flammable or toxic.
  • Alcohol
  • Sharp objects that could cut or penetrate
  • Batteries
  • Perishable items (unless they have specific terms)

Keeping paperwork updated

Your paperwork plays a critical role in the entire freight forwarding process. Before leaving your goods with the freight forwarder you’ve chosen you should always make sure your paperwork is in order. This includes:

Proforma Invoice

Consists of information such as the buyer and seller, a detailed list and description of the goods, the price, the delivery details, and then the currency used in the quote.

Commercial Invoice

Much like the proforma invoice, the commercial invoice lists the buyer and seller, detailed lists and descriptions of goods, as well as the price, delivery details, and currency. This invoice also tells you order numbers, customer reference numbers, and additional banking and payment information.

Certificates of Origin –

Certain countries require a certificate of origin to see where certain goods have come from.

Packing List

Packing lists are extremely important. It identifies items in the shipment. These items are categorized by their net and gross weight as well as the dimensions of the packages in both U.S. imperial and metric measurements. It shows any special markings that may appear on the packages and any special instructions for ensuring the safe delivery of the cargo to its final destination.

Bank Draft

A bank draft functions similarly to a cashier’s check. Because the money is drawn upon and issued by a bank, a bank draft guarantees the availability of the underlying funds. Buyers or sellers make or require payments through bank drafts as a secure method of payment.

Shipper’s Letter of Instruction

A letter from the exporter instructing the freight forwarder on how and where to handle the export shipment. Think of it as a letter that tells your agent/forwarder how and where they need to send your products

Bills of Lading

It is a legal document issued by a carrier to a shipper that details the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried. A bill of lading also serves as a shipment receipt when the carrier delivers the goods at a predetermined destination. There are three common bills of lading documents: inland, ocean, and air waybill.

Dangerous Goods Forms

Your freight company can assist with this. This will also reduce the risk of your items not being released from customs or the bank refusing to release your funds.

It’s incredibly important that the paperwork is accurate, this will reduce the risk of your items not being released from customs or the bank refusing to release your funds – neither of which would be beneficial to your business.

Do they have the experience you need?

No one wants to worry about their shipments because they chose a company with limited experience. Your freight forwarder should have a strong network around the world, but you need to know that they have connections in the countries/cities of origin and destination for your imports and exports as well.

Questions to Ask

How long has your company been in business?

Is your staff equipped and large enough to handle shipments?

How long have they been working with your company?

How large is your freight forwarding network like? 

Do you have any global partnerships?

How much experience do you have with types of payment, including letters of credit?

What is the cost for you?

Sometimes freight forwarders will try to charge you extra fees for certain services. They may have to load or unload the cargo, wrap some pallets, or make additional stops. There also could be weight adjustments and additional handling fees. Sea freight transportation is typically a cheaper option than air freight, especially for international shipping.  You also need to take into account the different fees related to different countries you are shipping from or to. There will be differences between different International shipping cost vs. China shipping cost or India shipping cost.  So make sure that due diligence is done on all costs so you aren’t surprised when you receive your invoices.

Which services will you need?

It’s very important to know which services your freight forwarder provides. These extra services can also include warehouse storage, cargo insurance, cargo tracking, and dangerous goods handling.shipping. They also provide services like port to port shipping or door to door shipping whether it be by ocean shipping or truck Depending on the type of cargo or freight you plan on shipping will help you decide which service you want to use. If you have a large number of items to ship with an overseas destination then ocean shipping would help you more. Smaller amounts of items that need to be delivered overseas are usually shipped with an air carrier.

Considering the method of transportation you should use

Whichever method of transportation you choose needs to be the most efficient. Depending on the type of cargo you plan to ship and the destination will often help you decide whether you want to use and air carrier or ocean shipping. You may want to use truck shipping if the destination isn’t a great distance and if you don’t have a bulk supply of cargo to ship.

What you can do in case of a delay

Contacting your freight forwarder if they have not already tried to contact you is the first thing you should do. Unfortunately, sometimes delays are inevitable and unavoidable. These delays often occur due to bad weather, breakdown, port delays or unforeseen route changes. In this scenario, you should understand that freight forwarders are not liable for delays but they will do everything the can to expedite your cargo to get it to its destination. Delays are extremely frustrating but the company is working as fast as they can to solve the problem.

Are they able to handle multiple types of shipments?

It’s an important thing to know if you decide to continue doing business with them. Do they strictly work with ocean shipping or can they handle an air carrier as well? Do they have the experience, know-how, and partners around the world to handle all of your shipments?

As you can see, there is a multitude of factors that come into play when using a freight forwarder. We hope these tips help you along in your journey of shipping freight.