When you choose a freight forwarder, you are choosing your international shipping partner. Making the right choice can mean the difference between headache-free shipping and a nightmare of delays and lost or damaged cargo.
1. Experience matters more than size
Even if your company is large, you do not really need a large freight forwarder. The freight forwarder’s experience and trustworthiness are the most important variables to consider when selecting a freight forwarder. You should choose a freight forwarder who has experience in shipping to/from your origin/destination. You should also choose a freight forwarder who has experience shipping the type of cargo you will be shipping – such as machinery, perishables, garments, chemicals, hazardous materials, etc.
Tical Shipping has specialized in shipping to and from Central America and Latin America for 20 years. We know every port, carrier, and customs clearance agent in the region.
2. Understand the type of service you need
Before you begin contacting international freight forwarders for quotes, you should have any idea of the services you will require. This means being able to answer as many of the following questions as possible:
- What is the origin address and destination address of your shipment?
- Are you shipping to a fulfillment center?
- Do you need port to port, port to door, or door to door service?
- Do you have a full container load or do you need freight consolidation services?
- What is the weight, dimensions, and value of your cargo?
- Is this a one-time shipment or will you ship on a regular basis?
- Is your cargo hazardous? Do you have the correct document (MSDS) to give your freight forwarder?
- Do you need a special import/export license to ship your cargo to its destination?
- Will you need packing and loading services?
- Do you need assistance with documentation and customs clearance?
- Do you need other services, such as bonded entry and warehousing?
- Do you know you terms of sale (incoterm) and your responsibilities to the buyer?
3. Is the freight forwarded licensed and a member of trade organizations?
Freight forwarders in the U.S. must be licensed. Being a member of reputable freight forwarding associations indicates the freight forwarder has professional standing in the industry. The chance is higher they will handle your shipment with due diligence and care.
Tical Shipping is fully licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC)a
4. Can the freight forwarder handle multiple types of shipments?
You may need only ocean transport to Latin America today, but what about the future? A freight forwarder should be able to handle ocean, air, and trucking and also provide complete intermodal logistics, such as warehousing and breakdown of packaging.
5. Does the freight forwarder have an established network of partners and agents?
The freight forwarder should have agents in your destination country. This is important for DDU, DDP, and DAP shipments and also if issues arise such as customs delays, port strikes, etc..
Ask for references. If other customers are happy with a freight forwarder, you are more likely to be happy too.
6. Does the freight forwarder have service contracts with multiple carriers?
Multiple service contracts are required to get you the best shipping schedules and rates. The best freight forwarders are able to provide alternatives for shipping your goods by ocean, truck, and air. This means the freight forwarder will have more choices for finding available space at the right price.
7. Does the freight forwarder offer cargo insurance?
A freight forwarder should be able to issue insurance coverage for your cargo in case of theft, damage, or loss. Do not choose a freight forwarder that tells you to obtain your own insurance, as it may be more difficult to collect on a claim.
8. How will the freight forwarder oversee your shipment?
Some freight forwarders rely on electronic tracking. Others provide more personal service. You want a point of contact who will be dedicated to your shipment. Because shipping involves many unforeseen variables, personal attention is critical. Ask who will handle your shipment and how you will be updated.