Your customs broker should be the one that may recommend the freight forwarder based on the country or place of origin from which you intend to import.
Freight forwarders are companies that route your cargo from the point of origin, for example, Mumbai, India, to your point of destination, for example, Denver, Colorado. They book your cargo on different carriers, rail, truck, air or sea. You want to chose preferably a US-based forwarder with a branch office in the city you want to ship from. That can save you money if the forwarder in the US needs to track your shipment as opposed to you having to contact the shipper / forwarder you used in the country you shipped from.
You can book and prepay the freight from from the destination, possibly the same place where you and your business are based, or the US freight forwarder can recommend a forwarder you should use in the country of origin; in some cases this may be an affiliated forwarder they work with or they may recommend a forwarder they have a good working relationship with, if not in the city you intend to ship from then at least in the country your product will be coming from. In both of these instances you may have a better recourse should you have some problems. If you are forced to use shippers-forwarders overseas, be alert that in many Third World countries you may encounter a shipper whose name sounds like that of a recognized worldwide forwarder but in reality his “shingle” is but that of an impostor! Beware!
In essence, the freight forwarders will give you a freight quote for your cargo, a so called routing order. They’ll book your air or ocean cargo, place a Marine Insurance coverage on your goods, prepare all the necessary shipping documents, even arrange for warehousing an route, if necessary. In many Third World countries, freight forwarders typically go by the generic term “shippers” and often will also be AITA travel agents, ready to sell you an airline ticket; some will also operate a trucking service, or perhaps be involved even in manufacturing and exporting of their own products. Once again, beware!
Good freight forwarders will advise you which Sea Line or Airline to use. They can save you money on your freight bill thus in turn lower you product landed cost. Other forwarders namely in some Third World countries, however, may cost you more money than you anticipated – beware!
In any case, the freight forwarder in the United States or elsewhere in the West should advise you on the best routing for your cargo and what carriers to use and warn you of possible problems.
- Understanding what information you should get from US Customs Brokers before you start buying
- Price Quote in International Trade