How to use freight forwarding

Advantages and disadvantages of using a freight transporter


When transporting your goods around the world, you can manage the process yourself or outsource your transporting needs to a freight forwarder.

The factors you should consider when deciding if you should use a freight forwarder include:

  • the scale or complexity of your transport needs - the more complicated your requirements, the more likely you are to benefit from using a specialist service
  • whether you have the expertise or experience to arrange transport yourself - remember you also have to consider technical requirements such as customs clearance procedures
  • whether you have the time and expertise to manage the process yourself
  • cost - freight forwarders may be able to offer lower freight rates than you can negotiate with carriers, but you should be clear about all fees and surcharges you'll be liable for and about the level of service you'll receive
  • the possible convenience of using a freight forwarder to handle most or all of your trade-related services rather than having to manage multiple service providers
  • whether you can comply with security arrangements and labelling rules for your goods

As with most business decisions, it's a matter of weighing up the advantages and disadvantages. There is no simple answer. The cost-benefit equation will differ from business to business, and possibly also from transaction to transaction.

Bear in mind that you may be able to gain valuable advice from your freight forwarder. In the same way that accountants are often a useful source of general business advice, working with a freight forwarder can be a good way of learning about international trade.