We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Freight Forwarder?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At SmartCapitalMind, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A freight forwarder is a person who facilitates shipping of perishable or non-perishable goods for a third party. He may handle small personal shipments for individuals or small companies or negotiate the transport of pallets, crates, or shipping containers for large commercial or industrial firms. His services may include arranging transport of goods domestically, internationally or both. He may work as an independent contractor or as a staff member of a shipping company.

There are various reasons a consumer or company may choose to use a freight forwarder for its shipping needs rather than personally or internally arrange the terms of transport. The major cause often involves negotiating the best rate for services. A successful freight facilitator normally has strong contacts within the shipping industry and is often aware of options not available to the general public. These commonly involve knowledge of shipping sources that have room for additional freight on a vessel bound for a specific destination. Another option ordinarily not available to those without industry connections is a reduced shipping rate previously negotiated with the forwarder.

Upon initial contact, a freight forwarder customarily gathers basic information about the shipment. The main factors for consideration normally include if the merchandise is perishable or non-perishable and if the goods have to cross international boundaries. Other important issues concern the size and weight of the shipment and how soon the goods have to reach the destination.

Based on the shipment information he has gathered, the forwarder researches the available shipping options. These usually include determining if rail, water, air, or truck transportation is the best choice for transport. Deadlines for arrival and the perishability of the goods also strongly affect which option is best. He normally tries to keep similar goods going to the same general geographical area together.

Good record maintenance is imperative to be successful in this position. Keeping track of rates, damaged goods incidences, and shipping information on multiple companies is essential to keep customers happy and maintain profit margins. Preparing detailed customs documents and legal papers is also a normal part of a freight forwarder’s job.

A competent freight forwarder typically has well-developed analytical skills and is proficient in negotiations. His success is highly dependent on repeat business, so successfully expediting a customer’s first shipping request is important. The shippers with whom he deals must be comfortable with his integrity and feel they are getting fairly compensated for their services.

No formal education is normally required for this position, although good communication skills are generally a prerequisite. Knowledge of domestic and international shipping options and related rules and restrictions is often a requirement for the job.

SmartCapitalMind is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon140107 — On Jan 06, 2011

Freight forwarders are not able to negotiate or sign contracts as mentioned in this article. Only licensed NVOCCs are able to sign contracts.

Freight forwarders are allowed only to pass through the underlying freight cost from the provider to the shipper and charge a flat fee for their services which must be disclosed. It is all transparent.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

SmartCapitalMind, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.