Anatomy of an International Freight Forwarder
Learn about how strategic international freight forwarding services can lead to success.
International freight forwarding companies facilitate the process of transporting goods around the world. Exporters and importers depend on freight forwarders to get their cargo to its final destination on time and in good condition. The duties of a freight forwarder include customs clearance, maintaining documents, and booking cargo space.
This article provides information about the main functions of the international shipping freight forwarder and outlines how they are used.
Why Businesses Use International Freight Forwarding Companies
International goods transport is a long and complex process. Products need to be moved across land and sea from production to the customer. Import and export businesses rely on international freight forwarders. UK-based firms, like those in any other country, need to move their goods safely and efficiently.
A freight forwarder specialises in shipping documents, customs, insurance, and international shipping laws. They also possess extensive logistical expertise to ensure the timely delivery of products.
Businesses use freight forwarders to save valuable time and money. Freight forwarders alleviate the stress of international shipping through a variety of services.
Packing Goods for Shipment
Packing goods for export is a specialty service offered by freight forwarders. They have experience handling the risks of transit. These risks include potential damage and unauthorised access to containers. The service ensures customers that their products will reach the destination in their original condition.
An additional role of freight forwarder in international trade is to make sure packed goods are easy to handle. The forwarder gives customers suggestions about packing fragile items. International freight forwarding companies also help customers avoid added moving costs due to over-packing.
The packing material can make the difference between a successful or disastrous shipment. Choosing packing products is an essential service provided by the freight forwarder. Legislation for the safe disposal of packing materials differs between regions. Freight forwarders must also know the policies of the destination country.
For example, wood is a common packing material. However, it is subject to international legislation. Many countries require plant health certifications that verify the fumigation of the wood. Any scrap wood used to secure cargo must comply with the same regulations. Customers save extra packing fees with assistance from international freight forwarders. UK-based companies should check that all wood is compliant prior to the shipment.
Arranging customs clearance for cargo is a primary role of freight forwarder in international trade. Many products that cross UK borders are subject to control and licences. The entry of some goods is prohibited. A freight forwarder must know UK Customs policies and procedures to get products across the border.
Fees collected in the UK pay for public services. In addition, the money from customs fees provides financial support to families and individuals. Several government organisations have interests relating to border and frontier controls in the UK.
The relevant authority is HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The entity reports the money it collects directly to parliament through its treasury minister. The Rural Payments Agency and the Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (Defra) are other government agencies that oversee UK border controls.
The international freight forwarder keeps sufficient funds on hand to cover duty and tax payments at customs. The forwarder also needs special electronic software to communicate with HMRC’s electronic reporting and payment system. However, it is not uncommon for the freight forwarder to subcontract some customs-related tasks to a specialty customs broking company.
Successful export orders and payments require the processing of precise documentation. The international freight forwarder keeps accurate and orderly documentation. The freight forwarder knows the documents needed and when to present them.
Ideally, the forwarder gets instructions from the exporter or importer before the moving date. The instructions should be clear and be in writing. In some cases, customers give special instructions by telephone. The customer must confirm the phone instructions prior to cargo shipment via international freight forwarders. UK-based forwarders will accept faxed and emailed special directions with customer signatures.
The importer or exporter provides the shipper with other documents such as packing lists, licences, and invoices. Freight forwarders deal with customs clearance documents. They are also responsible for supplying hazardous good declarations, if necessary.
Different documents of carriage exist for each mode of transport sent by international freight forwarders. UK shipments sent by road freight require a document called a CMR consignment note. It contains transport and liability conditions. Sea freight requires a bill of lading from the freight forwarder. The carriage document for air freight is an air waybill. Freight forwarders are familiar with each carriage document.
The issuers of carriage contract rules may differ depending on the destination. The international freight forwarder knows the individual procedures for each shipment location.
Moving Dangerous Goods
The international shipping freight forwarder recognises hazardous products. The forwarder is responsible for classifying and packing unsafe goods.
Another role of freight forwarder in international trade is to prepare hazardous goods documents whether they ship dangerous products or not. A freight forwarder may need to pass along accurate and complete documentation without direct contact with the goods.
The requirements for dangerous goods compliance are different with each mode of transport used by international freight forwarders. UK-based forwarders have access to various resources, including current safety requirement guides, to help them remain compliant.
In addition, most of the UK freight forwarders are members of the British International Freight Association (BIFA). The not-for-profit organisation is the primary trade association in the UK representing freight forwarders. BIFA offers promotion, guidance, and representation to its members.
BIFA supplies the international freight forwarder with training and development. Members take ongoing courses that include managing the carriage of hazardous products. This specialist training helps the forwarder understand and comply with dangerous goods carriage codes and regulations.
Recipe for Success
Moving freight from one side of the world to the other is a gruelling process. Businesses get their goods to their intended destination with the assistance of international freight forwarders. UK-based firms know that all it takes is just one problem with packing, documents, or customs to halt a shipment.
A reliable international freight forwarder creates a strategy that leaves nothing to chance. The professional ensures that each step is carefully coordinated and efficient. The reward for the hard work is a completed cargo delivery and a satisfied customer. Best of all, the international shipping freight forwarder makes it appear as though it’s a seamless and easy process.
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