A freight forwarder can be needed if your company ships goods out of the country and even out of state. A trucking company or other freight company may not deliver your goods to their final destination, but may only get them over the border. A freight forwarder would be the company that ensures your materials are then collected at the border and delivered as needed. If you've never worked with a freight forwarder before, note a few questions you might have and discuss your needs with the company as necessary.
1. Can a freight forwarder save a company money on transportation?
A freight forwarder is not actually a transport company, but works with transport companies who collect your items and then deliver them; in turn, they may have accounts or contacts with literally dozens of trucking companies, airlines, and others. While their job is to ensure your material is picked up and delivered properly, they can also negotiate prices with various transport agencies since they have so many contacts in the industry. If you're worried about the cost of delivery, talk to a freight forwarder about your needs and outright ask how they can work with transport companies to reduce your overall freight bills.
2. Can a freight forwarder handle customs paperwork?
The amount of paperwork that a freight forwarder can provide for you will depend on each company; some might not handle customs paperwork or bills of lading, whereas some might prepare it for you completely. Some will also have customs brokers they work with who can assist. This can be especially helpful if there might be language barriers, as you may be able to create your own customs paperwork but then need it translated. If you need help with this or any of your paperwork, don't hesitate to ask the freight forwarder what they can do for you or if they can direct you to a customs broker.
3. Who is responsible if freight is damaged or lost?
Because a freight forwarder only arranges freight by an outside company, they would not typically be responsible for any damage or lost freight. This is why it's good to ensure they've chosen a freight company that has adequate insurance to cover the cost of your goods. You can ask a freight forwarder about alternate methods of transportation if trucking might damage your goods, and also ask about insurance limits offered by any company, so you know your freight is safe and you'll be adequately compensated in case of damage or theft.