How Freight Forwarders Can Help Move Your Goods

When manufacturing is outsourced overseas, the products must be moved across international boundaries and over longer distances. The paperwork, clearances and shipping services required to do this can make the process complicated at times. Usually, the best way to handle everything is by using a freight forwarder to help things run smoothly.

Requirements when moving goods between countries

  • International shipments of manufactured goods can be broken down into the following steps:
  • The manufacturer declares the goods are ready for shipment.
  • Customs is contacted to clear the goods for export.
  • The cargo is picked up and taken to the port of departure.
  • The goods are loaded for shipment and given final customs clearance for export.
  • The cargo is shipped to the port of entry in the destination country.
  • The cargo is unloaded and cleared through customs (the necessary documentation should be prepared prior to arrival)
  • The goods are picked up, shipped and delivered to the buyer

What freight forwarders do
With all the steps and paperwork required in shipment, freight forwarders are sometimes referred to as the travel agents of trade, since they make shipment so much easier. They are basically companies or individuals that arrange transportation between countries through regular shipping channels. Some of their functions include:

Documentation
Freight forwarders help prepare and review paperwork to include the commercial invoice, shipper’s export declaration and the bill of lading. They can also be utilized to insure proper marking and packaging. For smooth shipment, transshipment and customs clearance, all documentation should be prepared early and ready before the goods reach port, and a freight forwarder will help insure everything is done properly.

Arranging shipment
If the goods are on the other side of the world, it can be difficult to ship without help. A good freight forwarder will help find the best shipping channels to keep everything moving until the goods reach the final destination. They are particularly useful for smaller orders when the quantity ordered is less than a full container (LCL). A freight forwarder can help lower the costs of shipping this way by combining different shipments to make a full container load (FCL).Freight Forwarders

Consolidating payments
Freight forwarders can pay taxes, shipping and other expenses on the buyer’s behalf and will consolidate different payments into a single bill.

Insurance
Freight forwarders are usually able to supply insurance services to cover potential shipping problems.

Other advice
The right freight forwarder can provide valuable advice and help avoid costly problems on other issues that might arise.

Things to look for in a freight forwarder

Anyone who is in need of freight forwarding services should look around to find the one that best suits them. Some things that should be looked at include the rates, accreditation, experience, global reach in both the country the goods originate from and where they will be shipped to, office location, if they have a single point of contact and their consolidation services if the goods shipped will be LCL.

The final decision on using a freight forwarder will depend on the level of experience of the importer, and the ability of the importer to negotiate with the shipping companies for better terms. The complexity of the shipment, time factors and the possibility that the freight forwarder may be able to negotiate the best shipping rates all need to be considered. While freight forwarders are often the best way to move goods, they may not be in some situations.

Shipping Times

Before manufacturing, it is important to research shipping options to find the most suitable and cost-effective way to ship your goods from the factory to their next destination.

Most international shipping is now based on shipping containers. Shipping containers have greatly increased the ease and efficiency in which goods are handled. They have also substantially reduced shipping costs and have revolutionized shipping and international trade.

Twenty or forty-foot containers are used for most shipments. Whenever possible, the quantity of goods ordered should be adjusted to best utilize container space.

A full container load (FCL) is the most cost-effective way to ship goods. In most cases, there is a significant drop in unit shipping costs when goods are shipped by the container load. For some shipments, such as fragile products that require special packing or other special care, FCL may be the only shipping option available.

Various circumstances prevent clients from ordering and shipping by FCL. For these shipments, the transportation costs are based on less than full container load (LCL). While LCL is more expensive than FCL, it is nonetheless more cost effective than other shipping methods. LCL shipments are first sent to a container freight station (CFS) where they are combined with other shipments to make a full container. After the shipment reaches its country of destination, the goods are separated at another CFS.Shipping Times

Different types of cargo require diverse types of containers. For example, perishable goods are shipped in thermal containers (also known as reefers), tank containers are used for liquids and gasses, dry bulk containers are needed for free-flowing solids such as grain. However, the most common type of container is the general purpose or dry cargo container used for most shipments.

Listed below are various port-to-port shipping times. Please be aware that these are only estimated shipping times. They do not include loading, unloading, customs clearance or transferring LCL shipments to a CFS warehouse (3-4 days). Shipping times are longer if the container vessel stops at another port before reaching its final destination.

From Hong Kong to the U.S.
Hong Kong – Los Angeles= 12 days
Hong Kong – San Francisco= 12 days
Hong Kong – Chicago = 18 days
Hong Kong – Seattle = 18 days
Hong Kong – Houston = 18 days
Hong Kong – New York = 26 days
Hong Kong – Miami = 28 days

From Hong Kong to Canada
Hong Kong – Vancouver = 19 days
Hong Kong – Toronto = 26 days

From Hong Kong to Australia
Hong Kong – Brisbane = 18 days
Hong Kong – Sydney = 11 days

From Hong Kong to New Zealand
Hong Kong – Auckland = 16 days

From Hong Kong to Europe
Hong Kong – Antwerp = 23 days
Hong Kong – Barcelona = 21 days

From Shanghai to the U.S.
Shanghai – Los Angeles = 14 days
Shanghai – San Francisco = 14 days
Shanghai – Chicago = 20 days
Shanghai – Seattle = 20 days
Shanghai – Houston = 20 days
Shanghai – New York = 28 days
Shanghai – Miami = 30 days