What do you need to know before contacting a Freight Forwarder?

Freight forwarding is a service industry that involves moving goods around the world on behalf of importers and exporters. International Freight forwarders specialize in moving cargo. They also arrange customs clearance of goods, maintain all documentation, oversee cargo packing and will at times deal with the movement of dangerous goods.

Freight Forwarding

When you first contact a freight forwarding company, they should provide a quote for international shipping, including carrier charges, duties, insurance, and their forwarding fee. A freight forwarder should explain timelines, transfers, and transportation options. Versed in import, export, and customs laws, freight forwarders can advise you on the specific regulations regarding your shipment.

Once you hire a freight forwarder, they will arrange for space with carriers, verify insurance coverage, complete documentation, and help with packaging.


1)      What are my incoterms with the supplier or the buyer? At what point does my responsibility and liability of the cargo begin or end?

2)      What mode of service do I need? Do I need port to port, port to door, door to port, or door to door services?

3)      What is the origin address of the cargo, what is the final destination?

4)      What is the size/weight/dimensions/value of my cargo? What is the value?

5)      Is the shipment considered oversized or out of gauge?

6)      Depending on the mode of transport: what size ocean container, what volume of air cargo, or size domestic cargo will I be shipping?

7)      How is my cargo packaged? Do I need additional packing/loading services?

8)      Is my cargo considered hazardous? If so, do I have the MSDS, which is required by my freight forwarder?

9)      Is there any sort of import or export license required for the import or export of my cargo depending on the commodity and ultimate destination of the cargo? If so, do I know how to apply for that license?

10)  Will I need any special services such as: documentary services such as document attestation or legalization services, drop and pull of a container (container left overnight at supplier), customs clearance and duties paid, CBP/FDA/USDA exam processing, in-bond entry, commodity classification (HTS codes), fish & wildlife license, prior notice, annual bond for imports, consolidation of cargo, deconsolidation or any other type of additional service?