A freight forwarding company is a company in the shipping business that has prepared its personnel and facilities to accept the responsibility and accountability for handling freight on an international scope of service. A freight forwarding company is different from a freight broker although the two often are confused because some of the services they offer may overlap or look to be similar.
In the US, there are over 16,000 freight brokers in contrast to the only 1,700 freight forwarding companies and this fact places the freight forwarders in a different category than their counterparts in the same shipping community. Both are necessary components in the complex and demanding role the shipping industry plays in the economic stability of the international markets, and both require training and experience to meet the logistic expertise to ensure the consistent and secure flow of cargo around the world.
The training needed for a company to elevate to the freight forwarding status cannot be found in a textbook or even in a college curriculum. That is one of the unique aspects of training for the job of a freight forwarder. Although there are some overall licensing courses, logistics courses, and technology platforms that will assist the personnel in freight forwarding to better perform their jobs, the larger picture of freight forwarding involves much more.
Out of Classroom Training
Most of the training for the global freight forwarder is gained through the lessons learned in on-the-job training. There is no formal college or vocational degree that signifies the preparation necessary to do the job. Freight forwarding companies usually provide people new to the freight forwarding company in house opportunities to shadow and learn from the other professionals in the company. The shared knowledge in these cases is invaluable and builds a firm foundation in learning to anticipate the many variances that occur in the industry daily. This allows the student to better understand the vast network and intricate forms of communication for a clear understanding of proven policies and procedures.
The people involved in international shipping have a vast amount of capital and money invested in the successful completion of trade and shipping ventures, and it is the successful freight broker agent and the freight forwarding company that can pave a smooth path to completion. These people must possess excellent communication skills along with high-level organizational know-how and targeted skills at goal setting and task identification. These are not skills that are learned in the classroom and come only with mentoring and practice.
International shipping and transportation require an astute understanding and familiarity with the documentation that is generated with each shipment and the regulations that control each transaction. Global transport services are document-heavy and use reams of paper recording bills of lading, a wide assortment of customs documents, and letters of credit.
One of the major duties of freight forwarders is to handle the quotations for shipping rates known as pro forma invoicing. Freight forwarding companies in the USA have to have a thorough knowledge of US export regulations because they may be asked to advise a client on what can be shipped and what restrictions apply to the contents of the cargo. Knowledge of the Commodity Classification Automated Tracking System that controls transportation pricing must also be readily available to the educated global freight forwarder.
Vocational schools, professional associations, and transportation companies offer workshops and seminars to allow freight forwarders to stay on top of the latest developments in the shipping industry. Among these courses are formal licensing programs that provide the necessary certifications for the people employed by the company to meet state, federal, and international approval.
Ocean freight forwarding companies are included in the category of Ocean Transportation Intermediaries are subject to licensing, bonding, and regulations established by the International Maritime Commission. Non-vessel operators are also subject to similar rules and regulations which protect the consumer and the shipper.
The Air Transport Administration likewise requires the freight forwarder to earn an accreditation that permits them to handle the international shipping of cargo using the airlines and related airport facilities. As for US transportation of cargo over US highways, the US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration maintains total jurisdiction over surface freight forwarding services. In some instances, other regulations might apply depending on the type of cargo and the shipping routes. The International Shipping Company of Asiana USA keeps abreast of the different rules and regulations through their accredited personnel and industry awareness.
Because of the large variety of modes of transportation and the many rules and regulations governing each aspect of the operations, the freight forwarder often completes the formal and informal training by identifying a specialization in one mode of transportation where they can be the experts and focus their resources and efforts at being the very best in that area.
Many join professional organizations such as the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) to gain specialized knowledge through seminars and conferences. Freight forwarders can specialize in ocean shipping, air transport, as well as overland freight involving rail transport and trucking. The education and training of the freight forwarder are constantly evolving due to the changing nature of international shipping.
Unlike many professions where there is a standard curriculum of study and internship that can lead the student to learn and eventually become proficient in their field, the road to excellence as a freight forwarder entails as much or more hand-on and close supervision of experienced mentors as it does classroom preparation and study.
There is no doubt that both are important and carry significant authority when choosing a practicing freight forwarder. It is important to verify the background and certifications of the freight forwarder you choose to work with. The International Shipping Company of Asiana USA has proven to be one of the most reliable companies in the international shipping business because we have met and exceeded the training and standards expected of excellence in this industry. Contact us today for a discussion of your shipping needs.