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Commonly Asked Questions About Freight Forwarding in Another Country

by Gregorio Medina

When exporting goods to another country, you may need to use a freight forwarding service. This is a service that picks up your goods at an airport, railway station, or dock, and then forwards it to its final destination. Working with freight forwarders may be confusing to a company that is new to exporting goods, but it's vital that you understand how this type of service operates and what is involved. Note a few commonly asked questions about freight forwarding and then discuss these with such a service or a freight broker as needed.

1. Why do shipping rates change so frequently with a freight forwarder?

You may note that a freight forwarder doesn't necessarily offer you a consistent shipping rate for longer than a month, if that. Some will need to quote you for every single job, depending on the frequency of when you ship your goods to another country. This is often because their cost of doing business may not be so reliable for certain areas where fuel prices fluctuate often or where local customs might affect their business. For example, in some countries, factories may shut down for weeks around the Christmas holiday, so there is a rush to get goods to those factories before they close. In turn, your freight forwarder may charge you a higher amount because of additional personnel and other costs they incur during this rush season.

2. Why does a freight forwarder insist I use their paperwork for forwarding?

A freight forwarder often takes full responsibility for the freight that he or she is carrying once it arrives in a country, so they need to take responsibility for the paperwork that goes along with it. Certain countries may have additional requirements as to paperwork, or the freight forwarder may require you to use their forms, either in place of or in addition to the standard forms you may fill out for your freight. This ensures that their paperwork is in order as they transport your goods and they face no liabilities for incorrect paperwork.

Using their paperwork, forms, and the like can even make it easier on you. Many countries have their own codes that refer to shipments, such as codes for agricultural items versus machinery or computer parts. When you use the paperwork or forms provided by a freight forwarder, they may be specific to that particular country in which you're exporting your goods. In turn, the codes, symbols, terminology, and other such particulars are spelled out for you, making it easier to prepare the paperwork properly.