How to use freight forwarding

The costs of using a freight forwarder


It's not possible to give a precise indication of costs, but this page outlines some of the main influences of the costs of using a freight forwarder.

Basic determinants of freight costs

The five main factors that influence cost are:

  • mode of transport - for example airfreight can be significantly more expensive than transit by road, rail or ship
  • distance / destination - the farther your goods have to travel, or the more unusual the destination, the higher costs are likely to be, particularly due to rising fuel cost
  • weight and volume - charges are usually based on the weight of goods, but calculation switches to volume above a certain threshold (one cubic metre per tonne for shipping, three for road, and six for air)
  • value - in some instances, such as earthenware and woollen textiles, charges are calculated on the basis of goods' value per tonne
  • the type of contract you have with the freight forwarder - while most forwarders usually charge per shipment, some will agree an annual service contract, so you should weigh up the costs and benefits of each type

Additional freight forwarding charges

Loads that require special handling of any sort will usually attract an extra charge.

This covers goods such as:

  • dangerous goods
  • perishable goods and live animals
  • outsize goods that don't fit in standard containers
  • other irregular goods, for example a load that can't have anything stacked on top of it, or goods that require a special crane for loading

However, extra charges depend on your contract. Freight forwarders and carriers sometimes add an additional fee for handling these types of products. Always ensure that you get a full quotation from your freight forwarder and understand exactly what you are and what you are not paying for.

Security for road goods

Some dangerous goods travelling by road, normally moving in large quantities, are subject to legislation. The rules mean any company transporting dangerous goods must:

  • only offer dangerous goods to carriers that have been appropriately identified
  • make sites that temporarily store dangerous goods secure
  • run security awareness training
  • have a security plan in place, if you deal with high consequence dangerous goods

Bear in mind that asking your freight forwarder to provide secondary services - such as arranging customs clearance or insurance cover - will obviously lead to higher charges.