What is a Freight Forwarder and what can they do for your business in regards to imports and exports? Below is explanations to both of those questions. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to call/email us and we'll be happy to answer them for you.
As a US Freight Forwarder, we perform both exports and imports for shipping ocean and air freight from and to the USA. However, in respect to dealing with an International Ocean Freight Shipping Company the shipper should understand responsibilities of freight forwarders on his/her international ocean/air freight shipment depending on service selected: export or import and country which the freight forwarder represents.
Nowadays, international ocean/air freight carriers throughout the world are governed by a variety of the global international ocean/air freight industries standards and regulations. They also adopted and extended the rules promulgated by international ocean freight carriers organizations. In general, international ocean freight shipments are regulated regardless of country of origin and destination in safety, environmental protection, documents turnover, customs procedures, commercial practices, cargo liability, and other issues.
However different international ocean freight carriers in different countries have different approaches to ocean freight tendering at their origins and destination stations. Knowing basic details of local rules in countries of origin and destination gives you an advantage to plan your international ocean freight shipment and forecast shipping costs related to it.
U.S. OTI - Ocean Transportation Intermediaries or Ocean Freight Forwarders mostly concentrate on the U.S. Importing and Exporting Regulations and handle issues related to Export and Import ocean freight procedures in the USA. They also provide general details related to cargo tendering outside of the USA along with information for ocean freight carrier's handling station's agents overseas.
In respect to dealing with a U.S. Ocean Freight Forwarder on shipping ocean freight from or to the US, the shipper should be prepared to deal directly with an international ocean freight carrier/carrier's agent, which will handle cargo on shippers' behalf as soon as cargo is out of the U.S. Commerce zone.
Information about international ocean freight carriers agents should be available:
- On export goods from the US - in carrier's international ocean freight bill of lading - the final document in the ocean freight industry, that acts as a title on shipped goods.
- On import goods from the US - in US freight forwarder's shipping instructions, before an ocean freight shipment is tendered to the export by sea from the country of origin.
Shipper's responsibilities on commodity and shipping documents submitted to an international sea freight Import and Export shipment
- In respect of dealing with an international freight forwarder, shipper should clearly understand that he/she is responsible for description and legality of commodity and sufficiency of shipping documents submitted to the international ocean freight shipment.
- International ocean freight carrier's bill of lading on sea freight is the final shipping document that acts as the title on shipped goods, as a rule states 'Shipper Load and Count' and 'Said by Shipper to Contain'. That means that the ocean freight carrier(and a freight forwarder who represents this carrier) is not responsible for information provided by shipper on his commodity being imported to or exported to or from the USA.
- An international ocean freight forwarder should guide the shipper in complexity of international shipment's procedures. However, it is the shipper's responsibility to provide all necessary shipping documents related to his international sea freight shipment that is required by the origin and destination countries officials.
Here is a list of commonly used shipping documents required to be submitted to an international ocean freight shipment:
- International ocean freight Bill of Lading - Ocean carriers'(international shipping company's) transport document. Title on shipped goods. Shows cargo routing, consigner, consignee, cargo description, etc.
- For commercial international ocean freight shipments - Commercial Invoice. Complete description of commodity being shipped with the value in USD while using ocean freight service provided by an international ocean freight shipping company.
- For shipping household goods and personal belongings overseas - Value Packing List. An inventory list with the value in USD assigned to each item being shipped by an international ocean freight shipping company or an international moving company.
In respect to U.S. Customs, all Commercial Invoices (and Valued Packing Lists) must be in English and show:
- Value of cargo in US Dollars (exchange rate = date of export)
- Shippers full name and address (M.I.D. - manufacturer's identification)
- Consignee full name and address
- Detailed description of cargo/freight
- Quantity of cargo shipped
- Weight of cargo shipped
- Cargo's Country of Origin
Additional Documents Depending on Commodity and Country of Origin Used in the Ocean Freight Industry:
- Packing List - Breakdown description: pieces, weights and packing materials. (Examples - Wood Pallets, Skids, Crates, Boxes, Dunnage, Straw Packing, etc)
- Fumigation Certificate - Certification that cargo and packing materials were fumigated after cargo had been containerized and is free of infestation.
Special Shipping Documents - Dependent on commodity and country of origin.
- Certificate of Origin
- North American Free Trade Agreement Certificate of Origin (N.A.F.T.A.)
- Packing Declaration
- Dangerous Goods Declaration - hazardous materials
- Fish and Wildlife Declaration
- Consular Legalized Documents
- Anti - Dumping
Storage/dumurrage at destinations on international ocean freight shipment.
In several days before your international ocean freight shipment will arrive to the destination port of entry, your consignee(recipient) should receive a notification(arrival notice). As a rule it will be an arrival notice faxed or emailed to the consignee by the agent of international ocean freight shipping company used on your sea freight shipment. Otherwise it can be a phone all or mail from the international shipping company's destination agent. Make sure that contact information of consignee initially provided in your booking request and transferred to your international ocean freight bill of lading is correct and valid.
Act promptly. Your free storage time at a destination warehouse is limited. Depending on destination ocean freight carrier's station policy it varies between 7 to 14 days. Thereafter storage/demurrage may increase total shipping cost for your international ocean freight shipment dramatically.