Shipping Intermediaries: Customs Broker, Freight Forwarder, Shipping Agent, Stevedore
A party who arranges shipping, warehousing, distribution and other goods movement on behalf of goods providers and shipping companies.
The term third-party logistics, or 3PL, is widely used in logistics circles as also referred as a Logistics Intermediaries. They outsources the firm logistics activities to another firm that then manages the activities, without taking an ownership position in the inventories.
The most common intermediaries in International logistics are freight forwarders; after the sale is completed a freight forwarder can handle nearly of all the logistical aspects of the transaction. Indeed, large forwarders may assume responsibility for managing the firm’s international distribution and supply channels.
Custom brokers may be employed by or affiliated with freight forwarders, independent businesses, or shipping lines, importers, exporters, trade authorities, and customs brokerage firms.
Person who is licensed by the local customs, after passing an examination that covers a broad range of knowledge including customs law, customs classification, customs tariff schedule, import and export regulations, shipping procedures, trade documentation, etc. He or she acts as a professional-agent for an importer or exporter, prepares and submits all documents for clearing goods through customs, and is paid customs-brokerage.
A customs broker is a CBP-licensed logistics expert responsible for ensuring that a shipment meets all standards and regulations for the import or export of goods. They can assist with all necessary documentation, duties, taxes, and payments.
Shipments that don’t meet customs requirements can be held indefinitely at the shipper’s expense or even confiscated. If you are unsure if your shipment meets all requirements for customs clearance, hiring a customs broker can be an economical choice.
A freight forwarder, forwarder, or forwarding agent, also known as a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC), is a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from the manufacturer or producer to a market, customer or final point of distribution. Forwarders contract with a carrier or often multiple carriers to move the goods. A forwarder does not move the goods but acts as an expert in the logistics network. These carriers can use a variety of shipping modes, including ships, airplanes, trucks, and railroads, and often do utilize multiple modes for a single shipment. For example, the freight forwarder may arrange to have cargo moved from a plant to an airport by truck, flown to the destination city, then moved from the airport to a customer’s building by another truck.
International freight forwarders typically handle international shipments and have additional expertise in preparing and processing customs documentation and performing activities pertaining to international shipments.
Information typically reviewed by a freight forwarder includes the commercial invoice, shipper’s export declaration, bill of lading and other documents required by the carrier or country of export, import, and/or transshipment. Much of this information is now processed in a paperless environment.
Freight Forwarders main functions
Following the sequential order of international trade operations, the freight forwarders perform the following functions:
- Advice on export costs, including freight costs, port expenses, consular fees, special documentation costs, insurance costs and merchandise costs.
- Planning the most appropriate route for a shipment, taking into account the perishable or dangerous nature of the goods, cost, transit time and safety.
- Reservation and contracting of the necessary cargo space on a ship, aircraft, train or truck.
- Advising and contracting insurance for transportation of the merchandise on behalf of the client and, if applicable, assistance in the event of an accident.
- Advice on the most appropriate way to transport cargo and carry out the procedures for packing, stowing and loading the merchandise.
- Preparation and presentation of Transport and Trade Documents required for export and import, such as the CMR, Bill of Lading, Airway Bill, etc.
- Handling with customs agents abroad to ensure that goods and documents comply with customs regulations.
- Acting as an intermediary in customs negotiations around the world to guide the cargo efficiently.
- Use of e-commerce, Internet technology and satellite systems to allow real-time tracking of the transport of goods.
- Advice on legislation affecting international trade, political and social situations (strikes) as well as other factors that may affect the movement of goods.
A shipping agent is a person who deals with the transactions of a ship in every port that the ship visits or docks. In simple terms, it is a shipping agent who with a local expert acts as a representative of the owner of the ship and carries out all essential duties and obligations required by the crew of the ship.
It is the ship agent who is entrusted with taking care of every need and requirement of the crew like getting local currency, getting the mail, any repairmen in case the ship requires major repairing, refilling the food and water containers and many other such duties.
A person or company whose business is to prepare shipping documents, arrange shipping space and insurance, and deal with customs requirements.
A stevedore, longshoreman, docker or dockworker is a waterfront manual laborer who is involved in loading and unloading ships, trucks, trains or airplanes.
After the shipping container revolution of the 1950s, the number of dockworkers required declined by over 90%, and the term “stevedore” has increasingly come to mean a stevedoring firm that contracts with a port, shipowner, or charterer to load and unload a vessel.