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The Exporter’s Responsibility in a Freight Forwarder Relationship
April 29, 2021 Ken Click, Business Development Specialist & Richard Foy, Regional Director

A recent blog post highlighted the advantages of using a freight forwarder to assist U.S. exporters by overseeing their shipping needs and handling their documentation requirements along the way. While the benefits are extensive, exporters still carry the responsibility in the relationship. Here are some tips that can keep things from getting complicated.

An exporter may rely on a freight forwarder to file the requisite export compliance documentation on its behalf but the exporter still remains fully responsible for the accuracy of the information. This is especially true if an exporter is involved in a transaction where it does not control the movement of cargo or is able to utilize its own forwarder relationship, such as a ‘routed’ export transaction where the foreign buyer chooses the forwarder. In these cases, the exporter should contact the foreign buyer’s forwarder as early as possible to obtain and review copies of important documentation.

In every export transaction, exporters should have a standard follow-up procedure to ensure:

  • The data transmitted to regulatory agencies is complete and accurate.
  • The shipment documentation is complete and accurate.
  • The foreign buyer has received everything they need for the importation process (Bill of Lading, Certificate of Origin, etc.).

Exporters should also maintain a complete export file of every transaction for auditing and record-keeping purposes. Should a U.S. exporter covered under an EXIM Export Credit Insurance policy ever need to file a claim, it will need to provide proof of export to EXIM (there are, however, some exceptions through some policy endorsements). The proof is in the third-party shipping documents which show the goods sold left the U.S. and were received by the buyer in the buyer’s country.

It pays to be diligent in verifying all aspects of the transaction, obtaining copies of documents for file, and demanding corrections if necessary.

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EXIM’s Blog postings are intended to highlight various facets of exporting, but the postings are not legal advice, and are not intended to summarize all legal requirements associated with exporting.