Not everybody has the contacts and the knowledge to book ‘space’ on ships plying the world trade routes. Imagine if you planned to immigrate and wanted to get all your favorite possessions to the foreign country. How would you go about doing that? Likelihood is that you would contact a Freight Forwarder to help make those arrangements for you.
A Freight Forwarder is an individual or company that arranges shipments via common carriers and books or otherwise arranges space for those shipments to international destinations. A freight forwarder does not actually carry the cargo, rather he/she acts as the transportation coordinator.
As part of that organisation process, the freight forwarder will prepare and process import and export documentation, for example the bill of lading and the shipping note. Advances in technology mean that much of the documentation can be processed electronically, removing the huge paper trail that used to accompany cargo bookings. Other services offered can include arranging warehousing and distribution and insurance, if required.
Freight forwarders have been referred to as travel agents for freight, which is good, if simplified, description of the role of the freight forwarder. An important part of the freight forwarder’s role is one of consolidator. He/she will consolidate shipments that are less than a container load (LCL) and arrange common carrier transportation. Importantly, a freight forwarder will ordinarily have the same liability for loss as a common carrier.
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