07 Jun

6 Things You Should Consider Before Choosing An International Freight Forwarder

Choosing an international freight forwarding company is like choosing a business partner, and working with a highly-accredited forwarder is one of the most important things you should do as a shipper. 

There is no doubt that there’s more than just a couple freight forwarding companies. Given the fact that there’s a vast difference between any freight forwarder and a good freight forwarder, a simple Google search will yield you with more choices than you might be able to process. Then, deciding between which forwarding company to work with will seem like such a daunting task. So how exactly do you know which forwarders are the best to work with and ensure that your company is working with a legitimate and trustworthy partner? Here are a few things to consider when choosing an international freight forwarder.

  1. Determine how long have they been in business

Determining how long they have been in business goes farther than just knowing their credibility and stability. In the freight forwarding industry, experience is a major factor. Some forwarders might be more experienced in specific countries or niches such as plastics, hazardous products, reefer containers, etc. compared to others due to their experience. Experience also greatly affects how a forwarder will act in the event of a shipping issue such as:

  • Demurrage
  • Missing Documentation
  • Sudden Port Closure
  • Customs Clearance
  • Cargo Reroutes

These issues are very common especially in international shipping. A seasoned forwarder with years or decades of experience will know how to deal with these commonalities and ensure that your shipment is still arriving safely and on time.

  1. Check their Affiliations

Depending where the forwarder is based at, there are different requirements and licenses required to operate an international freight forwarding company. If you’re in the US, make sure that the international freight forwarder you’re considering to work with is qualified and certified by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) if they’re Ocean Operators and/or have a membership number from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) if you’re looking more into air freight forwarders.

  1. Check if their Service Offerings match your needs

One of the most important things to know when choosing an international freight forwarder is their complete plethora of value-adding services that they offer. Keep in mind that your needs and the freight forwarder’s service offerings should match. This will ensure that your shipments will go smoothly.

  1. Make Sure They’re Bonded

Even if experience is a major factor in choosing an international freight forwarder, it is not the only factor. It is generally a good idea to make sure that your freight forwarder is financially stable. You would not want to end up with delayed shipments because of your forwarder’s financial troubles, right? So, something to look out for is a freight broker bond. A freight broker bond is a required bond for freight forwarders to operate. The bond is issued only after a complete assessment of financial status. It guarantees you and your company security and compensation in case they run into trouble.

  1. Customer Service is Key

Logistics is a very tricky business and in its simplest form, freight forwarders are basically international middle-men. In this industry, providing good service is synonymous with providing good business. You need to make sure that the freight forwarder you choose provides quality customer service. Before you start using their services, you can already gauge a forwarder’s customer service by the way they speak to you when you ask a question. How is their response rate? Do they answer your questions in a timely manner? If not, then this is a troubling sign and could potentially be a problem in the long run.