So what exactly is a freight forwarder anyway?

The National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America Inc. (NCBFAA) explains just what freight forwarders are and do:

  • The international freight forwarder is a “transport architect,” the NCBFAA explains. Ocean freight forwarders are licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC). International air cargo agents are accredited by the International Air Transportation Association (IATA).
  • A freight forwarding professional advises clients of the best rates, routings and modes of transporting goods to or from any area in the world. Freight forwarders are trained to find the right match of services available so that products are moved by the most timely and cost-effective means. The large volume of freight handled by forwarders gives them advantages not always available to either individual shippers or integrated carriers.
  • A freight forwarder needs to be up-to-date on the ever-changing regulations that affect cargo movements, such as foreign documentation requirements, hazardous materials rules, U.S. government regulations, special packaging or handling restrictions, and any applicable licensing provisions.
  • Customized services to fit the clients' operational needs are the forwarder's specialty. Forwarders coordinate arrangements for storage, pick-and-pack operations, consolidations or full-container movements as well as inland transportation to provide clients with door-to-door service. Freight forwarders can assist with initial quotations or preparation of pro-forma invoices, and can bank clients' documents for collection.
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