What is an International Freight Forwarder? // List of 40+ Trusted Freight Forwarding Companies

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What is a Freight Forwarder? Freight Forwarding is on the most common task in the sourcing and manufacturing process to outsource. THesreson for this is shipping is complicated and Freight forwarders can use their expertise to make the whole process simple and even cheaper.
Freight Forwarders help move cargo

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Shipping your goods and getting them cleared for export and import is a major part of many businesses. whether you are a first-time FBA seller or a major corporation the process to get your goods from the factory to the final destination is basically the same. But do you want to actually go through the process, regulation, paperwork and more or hire someone who has the experience and can do all of the work for you? That’s where Freight Forwarders come in. 

What is a Freight Forwarder? 

Freight Forwarders are basically project managers for the shipping, import, and export process. That is to say that they don’t actually do the shipping or customs, but work with partners to make sure that the goods are shipped, cleared by customs, and arrange for smaller shipments to be bundled. 

Freight forwarders come in all sizes and specialties. A large freight forwarder can do every step to get your product from one country to another, while smaller freight forwarders may specialize inland trucking or a specific country. Freight forwarders will often coordinate with each other to ensure a smooth delivery. 

Finding a good and reliable Freight Forwarder is essential for your business no matter the size of your company or shipment. In this article, we’ll let you know what a freight forwarder dose and how to find a great one! 

Freight Forwarder simply put, arrange all the details to get a shipment from one place to another. Freight Forwarders are experienced experts that understand every step and a potential issue in the full shipping Process. Check out our guide that breaks down the steps and costs of the shipping process.  

In most cases, this will be from one country to another, with multiple shipping methods involved, although some smaller Freight Forwarders will only handle domestic. Most freight forwarders are set up to handle shipments of all sizes from LCL shipments to multiple containers.  

Types of Freight Forwarders 

  • International Freight Forwarder
  • Domestic Freight Forwarder
  • Ocean Freight Forwarder 
  • Air Freight Forwarder
  • Rail Freight Forwarders
  • Road/Trucking Freight Forwarders 
  • Consolidators 
  • Customs Brokers

What do Freight Forwarders Do 

Many people will be shocked to learn that freight forwarders don’t actually ship your product themselves. Instead, they arrange for shipment with other carriers, but they do not actually do the shipping. There are however several components that go into shipping and the Freight Forwarder makes sure that it all goes together smoothly. 

They also provide additional services such as: 

  • Inland transportation
  • Prepping shipping documents
  • Booking cargo and freight 
  • Negotiation Freight Cost
  • Freight consolidation 
  • Cargo Insurance
  • Acquiring Customs Bonds 
  • Filing Insurance claims
  • Document Delivery
  • Consolidation
  • Freight Collection

Ultimately, a good Freight Forwarder provides services that complete the entire supply chain.

Freight Forwarders act as your agent and intermediary to coordinate between the multiple parties involved in the shipment and clearance of your goods, whether it’s via air, ocean or land. The Freight Forwarder has existing relationships with a wide number of transport services and agencies to get a number of bids. They make sure that the different parts of a shipment go smoothly and if something goes wrong they are expected to make it right and offer solutions. 

The freight forwarder will make sure that you have the key documents required for Shipping before you book. In addition, they will let you know the process, estimated time frame and answer any questions that you might have. They’ll arrange the best shipment for you based on your needs i.e. duration or cost. They should keep you informed at every step. 

How to Order a Freight Forwarder?

There are many ways to book a shipment, including asking your supplier for a recommendation, doing a google search, or one of the ever-growing platforms that allow you to book online. When I first started Sourcing, I had to call several-Freight forwarded on the phone and get quotes in a process that took hours or days. Fortunately, more freight forwarders are using online platforms and can quote instantly. For what it’s worth I predominantly use and prefer Freightos. 

Frieghtos vs Flexport 

Even though both companies can help move your goods from one place to another, they do so in very different manners. Freightos is a booking platform that lets multiple Fright Forwarders bid and quotes for your shipment and allows you to book a shipment through the platform. 

Flexport, on the other hand, is actually a Freight Forwarder themselves. What sets Flexport apart is that they have their own interface and warehouses that they can use to ship and store your products. To be honest, we used to use Flexport but their prices are no longer competitive and we mostly book a shipment on Freightos now. 

Freight Forwarder vs Freight Broker

The biggest difference is that Freight forward can take physical possession of your goods while a broker cannot. Freight forwarder takes possession fo the cargo at various stages, mainly holding it while they wait for the shipping comment. Freight forward often have their own warehousing, usually located near the export port. 

Freight Brokers tend to be middlemen and their main job is connecting clients with shippers or Freight Forwarders. The Shippers, in this case, are the ones that are handling the entire shipment. Freight brokers often acts as a middle mean between Freight Forawaerres.  In most countries (including the United Staes, E.U, China, and many more) you need to have a license to actually take possession of the cargo. In most cases, Freight Brokers do not have the proper credentials but Freight Forwarders do. 

List of Top International Freight Forwarder Companies 

There are hundreds of freight forwarders around the world. Most tend to focus on import or export from one particular country. The best way to get a freight forwarder is to find one that is based in the country you are planning on exporting from. There are many but we made a list of some of the biggest Freight Forwarders in each country. The list is based on companies the export the most by volume into the United States in 2019, and pulled from various customs databases. 

List of Freight Forwarders in China

List of Freight Forwarders in Vietnam 

List of Freight Forwarders in Thailand

List of Freight Forwarders India

List of Freight Forwarders Hong Kong 

List of Freight Forwarders Indonesia

List of Freight Forwarders Taiwan

Final Thoughts 

At the end of the day, the main thing you need to figure out is what is more important: Time or the price. From there make a decision on the freight forwarder that best meets your need for the particular shipment. Many people think that they can handle the whole process but from experience, this is one of the most important steps that you need to outsource to an expert. In addition to the ease, a freight forwarder can access their network to get a cheaper price, as well as smooth out any issues.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments and we’ll be sure to answer. 

2 thoughts on “What is an International Freight Forwarder? // List of 40+ Trusted Freight Forwarding Companies”

  1. SLR Shipping LLC

    Thank you for your most informing articles, very educative and enlightening, especially for people like me in the shipping industry.

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Jim Kennemer

Jim Kennemer

Jim Kennemer is the Founder of Cosmo Sourcing and Sourcinghub.io. He has helped 100’s of clients source more than $100 Million USD worth of products from both China and Vietnam. Products that he has sourced have ended up in almost every major retailer for clients from over 30 countries.
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