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A Beginner’s Guide to Freight Forwarding

Tutorial - 3 Min. Read

Growing business means more shipping routes—but international shipping comes with its own complexities and regulations. See how freight forwarders can handle all aspects of international logistics.

Abstract illustration depicting a train, ship, airplane and trucks.

When small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) experience growth, logistics can become much more complicated. Freight forwarding can offer an ideal solution for companies expanding their shipping routes globally. Here’s how to get started.

What Is Freight Forwarding?

Freight forwarders—also known as forwarding agents—organize shipments from one country to another. Forwarders do not move the shipments themselves; they work for companies that import and export goods. The client can decide how much involvement the forwarder has in the shipment of goods.


What Freight Can Be Forwarded?

Forwarded freight may be shipped in a variety of containers, such as:

  • Packaged containers
  • Shipping crates
  • Shipping pallets
  • Freight boxes
  • Drums and pails
  • Transit cases
  • Bags


How Is Freight Forwarded?

Freight can be forwarded via various means, including:

an airplane icon


a ship icon


a cargo train icon


a delivery truck icon


What Services Do Freight Forwarders Provide?

Freight forwarders can typically provide a range of supply chain and logistics services, including:

Ocean or air freight transportation

Goods can be forwarded via ocean or air. Air transportation is faster, while ocean transportation tends to be more affordable. Freight forwarders may work with one or more carriers to transport the goods.

Inland transportation from origin and/or to destination

Road, rail and inland waterways (such as rivers and canals) may all be utilized for freight forwarding. Inland transportation can offer higher capacity while avoiding congestion at seaports. Freight forwarders may work with one or more carriers to transport the goods.

Consolidation and deconsolidation

Consolidation involves packing multiple shipments in a single load. Deconsolidation involves separating different shipments within a single load to prepare them for final delivery. Smaller companies with low-volume shipments can benefit from these services, saving both time and money.

Storage and warehousing services

Freight forwarders can also provide optimized warehousing space and storage solutions to streamline logistics.

Packing of cargo in compliance with export regulations

Export regulations can be complicated to navigate. Freight forwarders can ensure goods are packed properly and are responsible for adherence to regulations.

Customs compliance preparation

Achieving customs clearance can be greatly simplified by working with freight forwarders, who stay up to date with ever-shifting laws and are well-versed in the specific requirements for various types of shipments.


Example of Freight Forwarding

Explore this simple, hypothetical example to see how freight forwarding works:


Key Takeaway

For growing businesses looking for a way to import or export efficiently and affordably, freight forwarding can be an ideal solution. Offering a range of services, from customs compliance and consolidation to warehousing services and cargo packing, forwarding agents can handle nearly all aspects of international logistics.

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