Good day EarnBasers! Today’s post is going to be about how to get a good freight forwarder, but before then; I think it is important to know who is a freight forwarder.
A freight forwarder, or forwarding agent, also known as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC), is a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from the manufacturer or producer to a market, customer or final point of distribution.
Irrespective of the name you call them; their duties are inevitable in the world of importation and exportation. A freight forwarder helps you in your export and import businesses. Your freight forwarder is like your export consultant; he is the one that will handle the logistics of your exportation and every other thing related to transportation.
FUNCTIONS OF A FREIGHT FORWARDER
For example let us assume that an exporter located in Lagos, Nigeria has to transfer the goods to London, UK. First of all; the exporter need to carry the goods to his/her freight forwarder’s warehouse with a local transportation, later on the goods must be carried to APAPA Port, Lagos Nigeria with a container vessel from where it will be shipped to importer’s warehouse in London, UK with land transportation.
Transhipment is an essential feature of modern container operations. This is the transferring of containers from the mother vessel to feeder vessels or vice versa. Where cargo passes in transit through a country, the freight forwarder coordinates the transfer of the cargo from one transport vehicle to another. This involves booking space on a transhipment vessel, discharging, sorting, loading and distribution of the cargo to various consignees. Transhipment agents generally act as agent for the shipper/consignee or another freight forwarder.
2. Packing, Warehousing And Distribution
The freight forwarder may arrange for packing, warehousing and distribution of cargo. He keeps the goods in storage before export and subsequent to import whilst awaiting transportation or distribution. The freight forwarder can either operate his own ware-house and offer those ancillary services as principal to the shipper and other freight forwarders or function as an agent in procuring the service from independent contractors for his customers.
3. Documentation And Customs Clearance
The freight forwarder provides all necessary documentation for the import and export of goods having regard to legal and customs requirements and the terms of the sales contract. He performs these functions as an agent of the customer.
4. Payment Of Freight And Local Taxes
Also as an agent of the shipper/consignee, the freight forwarder co-ordinates and effects payment of freight to the performing carrier and any local taxes, eg VAT or government service tax on behalf of his customers to avoid delays.
5. Transport Arrangements
After the customer has decided on the route and mode of transportation, the freight forwarder makes the necessary bookings and dispatches the goods as an agent. In his classic role, he arranges contracts of carriage and establishes direct contractual relationships between his customer – the shipper – and the carrier. He furthermore pays freight charges, insurance, packing, customs duties and then charges his customer a fee, usually a percentage of the total expenses.
6. Freight forwarders can load “Less Container Loads” of goods by consolidating them into “Full Container Loads”.
After your consignment has left the port you can then go to the shipping company and obtain the bill of laden (Freight forwarders generally issue a “Freight Forwarder Bill of Lading” or “Fiata Multimodal Bill of Lading”). With the bill of laden, payment could then be made depending on your agreement with the overseas buyers; it could be cash against document or letter of credit.
HOW TO GET THE RIGHT FREIGHT FORWARDER IN NIGERIA
1. Can The Freight Forwarder Handle The Product You Want To Ship Or Do They Specialized In Certain Commodities?
This is indeed the first thing to consider when choosing the right forwarder for the business. Make sure the freight forwarder has some knowledge of your product.
2. Does The Freight Forwarder Have A Good Network Of Global Agents At Origin/Destination Ports?
A good network of overseas agents ensures a smooth information flow which helps you to know where your product is and help you to get your product in a timely manner. It also saves you lot of stress as it ensures smooth goods delivery.
3. What Is The Communication Of The Freight Forwarder?
Are they switching your call from one person to another or do you have one designated person who handles your cargo? Are they picking up the phone when things go wrong or are they nowhere to be found? How do they respond to urgent matter when one arises?
4. Does The Freight Forwarder Have Experience?
Experience they say is the best teacher; this is not different with freight forwarders. If there is anything you must lookout for, let it be experience!!! May be I should repeat this again; make sure the freight forwarder you are choosing has the required experience.
5. Does The Freight Forwarder Have Good References?
Ask for references, to see if their other customers are happy with them and what their customer satisfaction level is.
6. Does The Freight Forwarder Have Cargo Insurance?
This is not a must though but it is a good sign that you are 100% safe. However, if you see any freight forwarder with Cargo insurance you better jump at it.