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Freight forwarders are a critical, but often unsung, part of international trade and commerce. They work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that markets operate effectively, goods are sold, shipped and safely delivered to their end destination. They’re a vital cog in the entire global supply chain, and, in turn, the wider global economy but what exactly is a freight forwarder and what is a freight forwarder responsible for?

What is a freight forwarder?

Freight forwarders organise the safe, efficient and cost-effective transportation of a wide range of products from one place to another. They take care of all of the behind the scenes work that’s essential to ensure the entire process runs as smoothly as possible. With international trade in particular, the shipping of goods is complex and involved.

They will arrange transport from the place of origin, be that your warehouse or a supplier’s factory, to a port or an airport for further shipment. They will prepare documentation, any licenses as well as all the relevant paperwork for export. They will negotiate competitive shipping rates using their network of contacts built up over many years, and then load the cargo ready for shipping via air or sea freight. Any insurance, and delivery tracking that’s required will be taken care of and finally they will deliver your goods to the agreed destination.

What is a freight forwarder responsible for?

While the above may neatly sum up what a freight forwarding company does, it’s often less clear exactly what a freight forwarder is and isn’t responsible for. While they don’t actually move the freight itself, they will facilitate the process.

Freight forwarding companies are third party logistics providers. They have a range of different responsibilities, fulfilling a set of tasks that would otherwise need to be taken care of or contracted out individually by the business owner.

Their responsibilities are wide and varied, depending on the goods they’re transporting, the company they’re working with and the final destination.

Here are some of the key responsibilities of freight forwarding companies:

Advice and guidance

A freight forwarder offers expert advice and guidance, across a range of logistics-related expenses such as documentation costs, insurance fees, freight expenses, port expenses, the cost of merchandise, custom clearance and charges that may be incurred during importation and exportation.

Acting as an intermediary

A freight forwarder will not actually handle the whole shipping process itself. Instead, they will act as an intermediary between a shipper and various transportation services such as ocean shipping on cargo ships, shipping by air freight and moving goods by rail. They will book cargo space on a ship, lorry or plane for the products. They understand how each of these different components of the process operate and can better coordinate these elements than the average company insider.

Handling goods

They will consider the nature of the goods that are being transported and how that impacts on transit cost, safety and time. They will find the best possible route for shipment for the exporter. All of this is particularly important when it comes to perishable goods.

Paperwork and documentation

Your freight forwarding company should have a depth of experience and expertise when it comes to administrative issues. This will include documentation and compliance, export and import paperwork, duties and any other associated requirements for your products and destination. This is a key responsibility of freight forwarders and one which saves companies considerable amounts of time, money and hassle.

Freight forwarders take on the responsibility of ensuring that goods reach their destination in a timely manner without any delays or hold-ups that could have been avoided with the correct documentation.


They will coordinate the insurance of any goods, and in the event of damage will carry out any necessary follow-up work in the event of an accident.

Oversee the transportation of goods

They will oversee the physical transportation of goods from the point of origin to the end destination, as well as its packing and loading into the carrier.

As well as these key responsibilities a freight forwarder has a range of functions and benefits that they bring to the exporting process:


Freight forwarders have a vast amount of experience at moving goods from the point of origin to the final destination. When you use the services of a freight forwarding company you gain access to this experience. It’s this know-how that simplifies the entire process for the exporter, helps to reduce costs and can help negotiate any challenges or potential delays.

Established networks in the market

Your freight forwarding company should be well placed within an established network of different providers who they can call upon to ensure the most efficient and cost-effective transportation of your goods. The importance of these networks can’t be overstated. The freight forwarder effectively conducts a range of different relationships, using different resources and contacts to help find an effective solution for each particular job.

Comprehensive freight forwarding services

The range of responsibilities that a freight forwarding company will take on will vary depending on the services that the client company requires. At SSO Logistics. we’re highly experienced at providing a comprehensive range of freight forwarding services for our clients.

We tailor our services to meet your specific needs and offer an easily scalable option to help you grow your export business. Our services can adapt to your needs.

To find out more about what we offer contact us today.

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