The role of the freight forwarder in port logistics

The international transport of goods has become increasingly important. Along with this, the role of mediators is required to ensure transactions are carried out more smoothly. The freight forwarder is one of the best known of these, but what does a freight forwarder do? This question is answered below.


What is a freight forwarder?

A freight forwarder or forwarding agent is defined as a natural or legal person that provides services for the international transport of goods.

Freight forwarders are involved in all types of international transport operations; including maritime or inland waterways, air, rail and road.

Its scope of action is that of a liaison between the different carriers. This ensures continuity by using different means of transport. It also coordinates the administrative operations related to international transport; this includes customs formalities, financial management and insurance contracts, among others.

It could be said that its actions are similar to those of a transport agency, as it adopts the position of both shipper and carrier. This position is regulated in most countries, and its functions are clearly defined in international trade. In Spain, the freight forwarder is regulated by Law 16/1987 ATEIA-OLTRA.

Customs agents in Europe are grouped in the European Liaison Committee of Common Market Forwarders. In Latin America, there is the Federation of National Associations of Freight Forwarders and International Logistics Operators of Latin America and the Caribbean, which has numerous links with Spanish associations.

Interdisciplinary training is required to practise this profession, as well as a series of permits and administrative authorisations. They must also comply with the laws in force in each country.


What are the functions of a freight forwarder?

Now that we have seen what a freight forwarder is, we will discuss its functions. The tasks carried out by a customs forwarder may be complex. Normally, the services provided to customers are personalised; however, the following are some of the most common functions they perform:

  • Advisory services on export costs, including both freight and port charges; as well as all costs related to insurance, processing of documentation and goods handling.
  • Hiring and reservation of the loading area required for the means of transport used.
  • Management with foreign customs agents to verify that goods and documents comply with customs regulations.
  • Preparation and submission of all international transport documents required for import and export, such as CMR, bills of lading and air waybills.
  • Planning the most appropriate route for the shipment, taking into account factors such as perishability or danger of the goods, as well as transit time and safety.
  • Real-time tracking of goods via satellite, the Internet and e-commerce systems.
  • Preparation of management reports and analysis for customers with the costs derived from the transport operations managed.
  • Advice on regulations affecting international trade. It also takes into account political, social and any other situation that may affect the movement of goods.
  • Brokering negotiations with customs around the world to manage cargo efficiently.
  • Consultancy services and execution of procedures for packing, stowage and loading of goods.


What functions does a freight forwarder perform?
A freight forwarder ensures the success of the international freight forwarding operation, their functions are tailored to the needs of the clients. Image by Freepik.


Why is a freight forwarder important?

A freight forwarder plays a key role in all international trade operations. It takes care of sending goods to foreign traders, while collecting them in the case of imports. As can be appreciated, it is involved in all operations involving the purchase and sale of goods, both locally and internationally.

Its services are essential for import companies that require the supply of both goods and components, as well as export companies with a business model based on selling their products abroad.

One of the advantages offered by freight forwarders is that they know the prices for different logistics services and transport media, by sea, land or air. They can therefore find the best freight rates for both importing and exporting customers.

Before setting an international selling price for a product, many export companies consult freight forwarders. They can find out the costs for tariffs, transport, customs and taxes and calculate a realistic price for their goods, while maintaining their profit margins.


Why is a customs broker important?

The Suisca Group has more than 30 years’ experience in the maritime sector. It is made up of different companies and has its headquarters in Las Palmas. It also has offices in the ports of Algeciras, Huelva and Tenerife.

Suisca is a full service and supply provider with agreements with other service providers. This allows Suisca to offer products and services to other ports around the world.

In short, the role of the freight forwarder is absolutely essential if you want to ensure the success of the international transport of goods.

Suisca Group provides the best support to all shipping companies looking for a solution to their logistical or supply problems. We offer a customised service 24 hours a day, all year round, as well as having a friendly, personalised approach. For further information, please contact our company.