If you’re not familiar with the world of global freight services, it can appear quite daunting. At its most basic, it’s about organising the shipment of goods to a destination using one of the following methods: road, sea, air, or rail freight.
If you’re not sure where to begin, start with this guide - which covers the 10 most important things you need to know about global freight services.
1. What does a global freight services company do?
Their responsibility is simple: to safely convey specified goods from one location to another for their client. A freight forwarder is responsible for coordinating everything - including storing the goods and shipping them to the agreed destination. They may also act as a broker of sorts by collecting and comparing quotes from different carriers to find the fastest and most cost-effective way to transport the cargo.
2. Freight forwarders can’t be held liable for shipping delays
Unforeseeable events can prevent shipments from leaving on time. Technical problems, severe weather conditions, or changes to the planned route are just a few examples of problems that can occur - and which are beyond the control of your global freight services provider (although they will draw on their knowledge and experience to find a way around the problem).
3. Check your paperwork is correct and up to date first
Even the smallest administrative error could delay your shipment leaving on time. To avoid customs holding your cargo, check you have all the right paperwork - and that the required fields are completed. Your freight forwarder will be able to help if you have questions.
4. Some products are restricted - so check with your provider
Not all goods can be transported to all global destinations. And so it’s important to check with your global freight services provider if unsure.
Prohibited items include:
- Any sharp objects
- Perishable items
- Any type of drug
- Dangerous goods
5. Some freight forwarders only ship certain types of cargo
Some global freight services providers specialise in specific cargo types. If your needs are highly specific, it’s advisable to shop around to find a company with the niche expertise needed to get your goods safely and cost-effectively shipped.
6. Your forwarder might provide additional services
For example, they might offer storage and warehousing services, pallet storage, or inventory optimisation. It’s worth finding out, even if you don’t need these extra services immediately, they may prove useful next time.
7. Expect to receive paperwork from your freight forwarder
If you need to ship goods abroad, you’ll need to fill out a range of documents - otherwise, issues could arise that prevent your cargo from reaching its destination on time.
Your provider will send you:
- Commercial invoice
- Bill of lading
- Export license
- Export packing list
- Certificate of origin form
- Export declaration form
- Inspection certificate
8. Freight forwarding is divided into six distinct stages
1. Export haulage
Stage one involves moving goods from source to the freight company’s warehouse
2. Exports customers clearance
Without this, goods cannot be shipped internationally
3. Origin handling
Provided clearance is given, goods must be unloaded, inspected, and approved
4. Import customs clearance
Customs paperwork must be greenlit by authorities first
5. Destination handling
Which could involve conveying cargo to the import warehouse
6. Import haulage
This is the last stage in the process, with freight being moved from the important warehouse to its intended destination
9. Some freight providers are better than others - so choose carefully
You’ll be dealing with your freight forwarder a lot, so it’s important to establish a rapport with the team you’ll be working with. Do they seem knowledgeable and responsive? How well have they answered your questions? Take time to compare before deciding. This isn’t a process you should rush.
10. How adaptable is your global freight services company?
Ideally, you need a provider that can customise its services and strategies to find you the most efficient and cost-effective solution. Put your proposed logistics partner to the test and see how they respond.