Freight forwarder -
how to choose?
Freight Forwarders are professionals who take care of the more important steps regarding the shipment of your goods. You can get all of the transport information you require from a forwarder.
For example, they can inform you of shipping rates, routes and they can also book cargo space for you. They can also prepare the documents you need and serve as an import agent. Their roles may vary according to the shipping responsibilities outlined in the Incoterms agreed upon between the seller and the buyer/importer.
Finding a Forwarder
The following resources can help you locate suitable forwarders:
- For the US, go to the USDA's Freight Forwarders Online Directory or visit the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America website.
- Check your Local Yellow Pages.
- Ask an experienced importer/exporter who deals in similar products as yours for a reference to a good forwarder.
Choosing a Forwarder
Using the right freight forwarder can save time, money and establish a more competitive base for your product. Using the wrong one can send you in the opposite direction. If you have decided you need the assistance of a forwarder, you must find one that suits your needs. This section covers the criteria for determining if the forwarders you select are appropriate for your type of product and the shipping destination.
Some forwarders are more familiar with certain aspects of trade than others. Therefore, it is a wise business decision to interview each forwarder. In considering a forwarder, ask these questions. Does the forwarder:
- Have an office near your shipping port?
- Have experience handling your type of product and shipment to your market?
- Have experience with the type of carriers you require?
- Have a good credit rating?
- Have favorable shipping rates and delivery schedules?
- Receive good recommendations from carriers?
- Belong to any professional associations or organizations?
- Have a reputation for friendliness, competence, efficiency, reliability, cost-effectiveness, trustworthiness and using fair business practices?
Many customs brokers and forwarders use these web-based applications to ensure accurate submission of import documentation to customs agencies for security tracking of various shipments. Third party logistics providers can also provide clients with up-to-date cost analysis, logistics and import compliance information. The following fee-based online websites can prove useful if you want to import yourself