“Shipping” is a simple concept. Product in one place needs to move to another place. Getting it there involves the movement of the cargo– shipping it. Simple.

Sometimes it is simple. One truck picks up the product and delivers it to the final destination. No border crossings. No changes of transportation modes. No storage. Minimal paperwork.


But for international shipments, the scenario is more complicated. The cargo may move from its origin on a truck to a train, boat or plane. The goal is to get it from one country to the next. Then, the cargo is moved within the destination country using some of the same modes again after being cleared by customs. This may involve a short (or long) stop in a warehouse.

Not so simple.

What Does a Freight Forwarder Do?

In a nutshell, a freight forwarder coordinates the services involved with moving parcels.

Services like:

  • Transportation by truck, plane, boat or train.
  • Tracking within countries and between countries.
  • Warehousing.
  • Cargo insurance.
  • Freight consolidation.
  • Documentation.
The freight forwarder works with multiple other companies to make all the arrangements needed to move the freight. This includes negotiating rates with carriers, tracking the freight from origin to destination, getting cargo insurance as needed and making sure documentation is in place so the cargo can clear customs.

In most cases, a freight forwarder does not use its own assets to move the freight. Rather, the forwarder finds the best assets to meet your price and service objectives.

Some forwarders, in addition to working to secure space at facilities owned by others, will have their own warehouse facilities that can be used for temporary storage. IBC has five facilities strategically located in New York, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and just recently added Dallas Fort Worth.

It is common for a freight forwarder to be licensed by the Federal Marine Commission (FMC) as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC) and as a freight forwarder. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also licenses freight forwarders.

To operate in the U.S., a freight forwarder must be licensed. IBC has been a licensed freight forwarder for over 40 years.

Why Work With a Freight Forwarder?

A freight forwarder can save you time and money, and track everything from origin to destination.

Of course, if you want to, you can negotiate rates, and schedule services with freight forwarders across multiple countries on your own. You’ll also have to make sure warehousing is in line, and have cross-border documentation ready to go to get the cargo cleared.

But that takes time – and expertise to be done well. And that is why many companies use a freight forwarder. A forwarder such as IBC already has established relationships with the carriers, warehouses, and governments involved in moving your cargo. The time savings alone more than pays for the freight forwarder services. Often, there are price savings also.

By using established rates, or negotiating rates and consolidating shipments when appropriate, a freight forwarder can leverage information and volume to get better rates than many shippers can get alone. Better rates that benefit you– the shipper.

A freight forwarder can be compared to an orchestra conductor. He – or she – is focused on making sure the various instruments, such as the violins, flutes, and clarinets (to name a few) are played at the right time, and on key so the result is pleasant to listen to. They make sure the cargo is moved from one carrier to another, and through customs towards its final destination, so you receive the notification that it’s delivered on time and without damage.

What About Customs Clearance?

This is an important part of moving international freight. It is, in many ways, the linchpin of all international shipments. Without it, freight stops and storage / demurrage, along with complaints start. Unfortunately, it is outside the scope of what is required to be licensed as a freight forwarder.

A freight forwarder will be able to coordinate with a customs broker to clear your freight, but the freight forwarder cannot act as a customs broker without being licensed.

There are some companies, however, such as IBC, that are licensed as both a freight forwarder and a customs broker. This streamlines the critical shipment clearance process that often causes delays.

Companies that can act as a freight forwarder and customs broker have an advantage over those that are only licensed in one area. This helps to keep your cargo moving.

IBC has been a licensed customs broker for over 40 years, and can provide your business quick inbound and outbound global shipping services for a smoother transportation experience.

Move Freight With Confidence

IBC specializes in worldwide shipping services with the ability to customize a logistics solution for any business. If it needs to move, we can help. From small parcels to large containers – via air, ocean, or land – across one international border or many – we know the rules, regulations, and the right way to get it there. If you’re looking for an end-to-end logistics provider to move freight with confidence, contact us today. We operate in over 220 countries and territories.

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