Choosing a Freight Forwarder

In the current economy, in which many companies are trying hard to make sense of regulations and keep up with requirements, there is a tendency to place the load on freight forwarders, making them responsible for classification, reporting, accuracy, and recordkeeping. This is not a recommended approach. A business needs to understand what is at stake.

Freight Forwarders rely on information provided by the exporter. Though they have written authorization to represent a business, forwarders typically expect the exporter to provide accurate information. Furthermore, regulators will hold the exporter responsible, not the forwarder, if the information is incorrect. A forwarder’s primary role is to arrange and manage the transportation of goods; they should not be expected to serve as a company’s compliance personnel.


In this economy, do not let cheap rates and low logistics costs wrongly influence that choice. In this case you get what you pay for. Selecting the best forwarder for your business is critical to smooth supply chain operations.

First Create a requirement list. The freight forwarder must have knowledge of and experience in your product, desired shipment method, and destination country. The freight forwarder’s staff have experience  in U.S. Department of State and Department of Commerce (including Census Bureau) documentation, recordkeeping, reporting, and licensing requirements.

The freight forwarder must have good communication skills and good problem solving attitude.

Other important requirements are Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT) certification, authorization to file electronic export information and shipper export declaration (SED) and submit the shipper’s reports via the U.S. Automated Export System (AES) for filing SEDs electronically, and full internal quality controls.

Depending on the business , you should work with a few Freight Forwarders but no more than 3.

Don’t let the forwarder’s account representative keep you from dealing  with operational staff during the evaluation process.