What’s The Use Of A Freight Forwarder?

When people first start importing, they often aren't sure where freight forwarders come into the mix and whether they need one. Learn what a freight forwarder does and why below!

If you’re looking into importing goods from overseas for the first time, you’ve probably only just stumbled across the term “freight forwarder” and are likely scratching your head in confusion.

Who Are Freight Forwarders?

To cut a long story short, freight forwarders are agents that control the import and export of shipments on your behalf.

For the long description, BusinessDictionary describes freight forwarders as:

Firm specializing in arranging storage and shipping of merchandise on behalf of its shippers. It usually provides a full range of services including: tracking inland transportation, preparation of shipping and export documents, warehousing, booking cargo space, negotiating freight charges, freight consolidation, cargo insurance, and filing of insurance claims. Freight forwarders usually ship under their own bills of lading or air waybills (called house bill of lading or house air waybill) and their agents or associates at the destination (overseas freight forwarders) provide document delivery, deconsolidation, and freight collection services. Also called forwarder.

What Do Freight Forwarders Do?

For people that are used to shipping a box or two of personal shipments or samples, the process is usually pretty simple:

  • The buyer pays for their goods and shipping.
  • The seller ships the goods.
  • A courier service, such as UPS or FedEx, will transport the goods from the seller to the buyer.
  • The goods arrive at the buyer’s door.

When you’re buying in bulk from overseas, as you would be when buying from somewhere like Alibaba or Indiamart, the process is . . . a lot different.

To help you understand a little better, here’s a condensed run-down of the importing process via sea and via courier:

freight agent

As you can see, the importing process is much more complicated than the buying experience that you’ll typically be used to.

This can be a long-winded and confusing process is why you need freight forwarders! A freight forwarder’s job is to take over bulk shipments and get them from A to B as easily as possible, so that you can kick back and relax.

Why Do I Need A Freight Forwarder?

Hiring someone to take over your shipping may seem like an unnecessary expenditure – but don’t forget that this isn’t your typical Royal Mail Post. Your goods will be loaded into massive containers – and, if you’re not importing enough to fill a whole container (LCL shipping), you need to establish the best way of getting your goods into a shared container, before sailing half-way across the world to you. Do you know all the documents, import/export procedures and certificates you need? Do you know which hauliers to use and which warehouses will be best to load your goods?

Our official job is to act as an agent on your behalf to move your goods in the most safe and cost-effective way. This means that you shouldn’t end up with massive hidden fees, goods that can’t get into the country because of missing documentation or massive confusion that you weren’t prepared to run into.

Everything that you’re uncertain about in the importing process you hand over to us. Our job is to make sure that importing feels as easy as your typical online purchase.

Freight forwarders inform you about all the documentation you need to import goods (your EORI numbers, etc.) and help you to explore and understand all your options. As long as you’ve provided us with all the necessary information, you don’t have to worry about anything until those goods are delivered outside of your door!  Even if you don’t give us the information we need automatically, we’ll help you get it.  We know which way to go through the maze of confusion and can guide you throughout so you never end up stuck with hidden costs that could have been avoided.

If you’re new to the world of importing, it’s easy to make mistakes and land yourself in hot water (yes, people who ship on CIF terms or let their supplier take care of their shipping; we’re looking at you!), but by using a freight forwarder you can easily streamline the process. We’re experts at importing so that you don’t need to be!

To get in contact for a free quote, or just to clarify a few things you’re unsure about, call us here: 0203 384 0498 or send an email to: info@shippo.co.uk!

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