Freight forwarder and a customs broker: are there any differences?

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April 5, 2018

The global supply chain is an extremely complex network that requires the involvement of so many parties for everything to work smoothly and efficiently. In the shipping game, clearing agents and freight forwarders are both important. However, each of them plays different roles.

Differences between a Freight forwarder and a customs broker

A freight forwarder

Even though the names sound eerily similar, a freight forwarder essentially deals with the forwarding of goods and shipments. A freight forwarder has the capacity to hold your shipment somewhere in a warehouse before it can be delivered to you, as well as negotiate the most favorable freight rates.

A freight forwarder is an agent for both the importer and exporter and a reliable one should have the skills and the means to get cargo of any kind to an overseas destination. The expertise of a freight forwarder in ocean and air freight, as well as their capability to issue bills of lading and all ancillary documentation is what makes the logistic service chain function properly.

Freight forwarders are familiar with the regulations of importing and exporting, the best methods to ship cargo and everything else associated with foreign trade. After shipment, it is the role of the freight forwarder to route the shipment to the buyer or seller. Sometimes, a freight forwarder might even make arrangements with a custom broker to make sure that your goods are in compliance with the regulations of the customs export/import office.

Customs broker

On the other hand, a customs broker deals with everything related to customs. The customs business is limited to all the activities that involve transactions related to the entry and permissibility of merchandise from one country to another. Additionally, customs involves classifying and valuing of cargo, payment of import and export duties and taxes, as well as any other charges that need to be paid, refunded or rebated.

In other words, a customs broker helps to ensure that your cargo enters and leaves an internationally country safely. Any dependable freight forwarder that you hire should have close contacts with a foreign customs broker that will clear goods so that they can be shipped to you. The customs broker recommends the best ways for clearing goods through all the official red tape so that a customs entry can pass through the port of entry upon arrival.

A customs broker can be an individual or it can be an organization. Due to the complexity of importing goods, many freight forwarders work alongside customs brokers rather than self-clear their own goods. All in all, a freight forwarder can be a customs broker but a customs broker cannot work as a freight forwarder unless registered to do so.

Look for a company that does both

Finding a freight forwarder that does both forwarding and clearing is essential if you want to make the import and export process flawless. An organization that offers door to door service can handle everything that you need until the final delivery.

Contact us for clearing and forwarding

Sidoman helps importers and exported make intelligent routing and mode selections so that the choices made are economical and able to meet the delivery time frame. Sidoman can be your ultimate partner when you need freight forwarding and customs brokerage assistance. Contact us today to learn more about our clearing and forwarding solutions.


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