According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, companies that export are 17 percent more profitable than those that don’t. While all customer transactions carry some level of administrative overhead, sales to companies and consumers outside of the United States require additional paperwork including correct labeling to ensure goods arrive at the right place at the right time, and documentation that meets U.S. and foreign governments’ rules and regulations. Frankly, the bureaucracy surrounding shipping products overseas may seem daunting. Fortunately, an experienced freight forwarder can help!
What is a freight forwarder and why should I use one?
An international freight forwarder is a licensed agent that ships goods to an overseas destination and many freight forwarders provide a full range of services. In addition to advising clients on moving products safely and efficiently from one destination to another, an experienced freight forwarder’s knowledge of U.S. export requirements can be an invaluable resource to help navigate many of the administrative aspects of exporting.
The US Commercial Service Basic Guide to Exporting outlines several value added services provided by freight forwarders including:
- Understand and provide documentation required by foreign countries’ import rules and regulations and U.S. government export regulations
- Advise on freight costs, port charges, consular fees, costs of special documentation, insurance costs and the freight forwarder’s handling fees
- Recommend packing methods to protect goods in transit or packing services for your merchandise
- Reserve space on a vessel, aircraft, train or truck
- Work with customs brokers at international entry point to ensure that shipments comply with the country’s import regulations
How can I find a freight forwarder?
Freight forwarders are licensed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to ship freight by air and the Federal Maritime Commission to handle ocean freight. Many freight forwarders are members of the National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association of America (www.ncbfaa.org). Large, well known logistics companies like UPS, FedEx and DHL are also freight forwarders and provide a full range of exporting services.
Want to learn more about exporting and freight forwarders?
If you are new to exporting or a first time exporter, aligning yourself with experienced freight forwarder can streamline the process of exporting, ensure your company is in compliance with foreign and domestic rules and regulations and maximize your success in international sales. There are also U.S. federal government agencies that help U.S-based small business exporters every day. The Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM Bank) works closely with the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Small Business Administration to provide end-to-end exporting assistance. Watch this one minute video and contact us to get started!