Over half — 53% of U.S. imports — and 38% of U.S. exports travel by maritime vessel. Why is this method of shipping so popular, and how can you enjoy its advantages, too?
Sea freight shipping is cost-effective, affords the shipper flexibility and options, and enables shippers to safely and legally transport hazardous goods, like fuel and caustic chemicals. When shipping goods over the ocean, it is often recommended or even necessary to work with a freight forwarder. A freight forwarder tackles the logistics of shipping and carries out all communications with ocean carriers.
Find out more. Learn the top five advantages of an international freight forwarder below.
1. Industry Expertise
Do you know what a Bill of Lading is? What about a dock receipt? If your answer immediate answer is anything but a resounding “yes,” it would be wise for you to work with a freight forwarder. Most freight forwarders have several years of experience to bring to the table. They know exactly how to package and document goods prior to shipment.
One of the advantages of an international freight forwarder is that they know the ins and outs of shipping all items, including hazardous materials (hazmat). In order to legally ship hazmat, you will need to declare it in a very specific way on shipping documents. Plus, containers must be marked with placards or stickers indicating what hazardous materials are inside. When you work with a freight forwarder, they take care of this process for you.
2. A Network Of Well-Established Contacts
In many cases, individuals, small and medium-sized businesses, and even large corporations do not have a network of contacts in the shipping industry. Freight forwarders do.
This network of well-established contacts enables freight forwarders to negotiate pricing and work around limitations or obstacles, like particularly tight schedules.
3. Cost-Effective Shipping Options
For those unfamiliar with the industry, shipping rates may seem like an entirely foreign concept. Freight forwarders, on the other hand, know what charges typically come into play as well as the many options available to you.
For example, you can pay for door-to-door shipping, door-to-port shipping, or port-to-port shipping. Door-to-door shipping costs most upfront, but may ultimately work out to be less expensive than arranging transport on your own. Similarly, you can choose between shipping containers as a full container load (FCL) or less than a container load (LCL). Each option has its perks and what option makes the most sense boils down to your specific situation.
4. Customs Clearance
One of the most important advantages of an international freight forwarder is customs clearance. Each country has its own customs requirements, making international shipping a complex and nuanced undertaking.
It is freight forwarders’ job to stay abreast of current customs requirements. A freight forwarder will be able to produce a Bill of Lading and any other necessary shipping documents according to the specifications of the country or countries you are shipping to — without any hassle on your part.
Ocean carriers are notoriously difficult to contact. A freight forwarder has the means to do it. Freight forwarders are able to contact carriers about reefers (refrigerated shipments) and temperature control, extreme weather, and any other conditions or circumstances that may result in delays. Without an experienced freight forwarder, you risk being left in the dark should these things occur.
Ocean shipping is cost-effective and efficient. Reap all the benefits of this mode of shipping and do it without any major bumps along the way. Work with a trusted freight forwarder to reliably complete the steps leading up to and during shipping for you.