What is an International Freight Forwarding: Types and Functions

What is Freight Forwarding?

On behalf of shippers, freight forwarding entails the planning and coordination of the transportation of goods across international borders. Freight forwarding includes a number of other tasks, such as setting up warehouses, getting cargo insurance, and dealing with customs. 

Businesses that have the resources to carry out strategic logistics plans can undoubtedly make a lot of money by importing and exporting. But the logistics of international shipping are complicated. Moreover, there are certain principles of freight forwarding, like efficiency along with cost-effective transportation of the goods without compromising on their quality.

Therefore, for this, the freight forwarders become experts in managing the logistics that are necessary to make sure the goods arrive on time.

International Freight Forwarder

If it weren’t for international freight forwarders, shippers would have to handle all the complex logistics of managing their supply chains themselves. If this happened, it would be very hard for merchants to sell goods around the world.

Companies typically prefer uncomplicated approaches. To free up time for expanding the core business, they have freight forwarding companies handle export logistics on their behalf. 

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Types of International Freight Forwarding Services

Sea Freight Forwarding Services

The use of massive cargo ships, the kind required for most freight operations of any size, is integral to this mode of freight forwarding service. These kinds of cargo ships can carry millions of tons of goods across oceans and seas every day.

Sea freight forwarding is not only a cheap way to export, but it also lets you move large amounts of goods across different regions and countries. Most services that move sea freight are one of two types: Less Than Container Load (LCL) and Full Container Load (FCL).

Rail Freight Forwarding Services

Most people agree that shipping goods via railroad is the most effective method of transport on land. Also, these services allow for long-distance shipping and guarantee that shipments will not be delayed. 

Operations on the railroad can continue for several hours at a time. The majority of nations also have their own rail systems. But the limited space that rail freight services have for storing goods can be a deal breaker for companies that need to move large or heavy items.

Road Freight Forwarding Services

Generally, this is a very common freight method. The transportation of goods is done by delivery trucks and vans. A lot of shipments typically end with road freight. Delivery times are highly sensitive to traffic and road conditions. Therefore, it could also be a good choice if your goods have already arrived in the country of destination and you want to move them between provinces and cities.

Air Freight Forwarding Services

This is the best freight forwarding method, especially if you want speed. Additionally, air freight will transport goods over long distances at a faster speed. Despite the fact that air freight is expensive, the service is rather quick. If the speed of delivery is the most important thing for your business, it would make sense to use air freight forwarding services. 

Customer Broker

Generally, a customs broker is a person or company that makes sure your goods have all the necessary paperwork and clearances. The goal is to make the operations as smooth as possible while still following the rules and laws of different countries. Also, a customs broker can cut down on the total amount of time you have to wait.

Main Functions of Freight Forwarders

Explicitly, a freight forwarder’s main job is to set up and put together all the paperwork needed for logistics and freight forwarding. 

The functions are as follows: 

  • Taking care of transportation by air or sea, no matter how many countries are involved, and also taking care of multimodal transportation.
  • When negotiating logistics agreement rates with NVOCCs and ocean carriers, you should look out for what’s best for the client.
  • The billing
  • Provide a place for distribution
  • Prepare the goods for in-land transport. 
  • Documents like Bills of Lading, documents related to customs, port documents, etc. that are needed to move goods are filled out and processed.
  • Booking or confirming the space on the ocean vessel
  • Putting out an approved HBL
  • Set up the shipping of goods to the port by rail or truck.
  • Using documents like Incoterms and letters of credit to help their clients. 
  • Help the customers clear their bank accounts and give them advice on the best way to move their goods.
  • Warehouses are places where customers’ goods can be stored before and after shipping.
  • Setting up the insurance on the shipper’s behalf


Who is the biggest freight forwarder in the world?

Kuehne + Nagel is the biggest freight forwarder in the world.

Difference between Freight Forwarders and Freight Brokers?

Particularly, a freight forwarder is one who holds responsibility for the shipment. A broker is one who holds responsibility for conducting transactions between parties doing business with each other. 

What are the advantages of International Freight Forwarding? 

  • Easy to track systems 
  • Successful stock management
  • Focus on Market
  • Quick and easy documentation
  • Safety and growth for the company

What is the primary purpose of freight forwarders? 

Freight forwarders’ main job is to make sure that the goods (also “cargo”) get to their final destination.