International Freight Shipping, How To Do It Right
Freight shipping is a thing you will have to do at least once in your life.
For others, it is a repetitive routine that they are already accustomed to.
However, everything that can go right while shipping can also go wrong if the necessary measures are not taken.
That being said, in this article we take you through the process of international freight shipping; or rather we discuss the topic in such a manner that any right thinking individual can become a player in this sector without going through much hassle.
The first question that we have to ask ourselves is; what is international freight shipping? Well, this is the movement of commodities across international borders using freight carriers. To get this definition right, there are a couple of terminologies that you should first know of. It is these terminologies that are used in the trade to describe certain specific items, processes, and key players in the industry.
Let us very briefly highlight some of these international freight shipping terminologies.
o The shipper – this refers to the individual/s that is/are shipping the products. Both the exporter and importer may be referred as the shipper.
o The International Shipping Company – this is the company you choose to do the actual shipping on your behalf. Also called a move manager.
o Origin Agent – refers to a local company that does survey on what needs to be shipped and uses the acquired information to give an accurate quote. This might be the consolidating warehouse, the freight forwarder, or the move manager.
o Freight forwarder – a company that arranges for freight and prepares the necessary documents for exportation.
o Consolidating warehouse – this is a special warehouse where commodities that need consolidation before shipping are temporarily stored.
o Export Port – the port where goods are brought for the purposes of loading them onto the ship.
o Ship line – the name of the company that owns the ship.
o Container line – the name of the company that owns and rents out containers to shippers who do not have their own containers.
o Destination port – port in the country of destination where the goods are unloaded.
o Custom Bonded Warehouse – a warehouse in the destination country where goods are temporarily held awaiting customs clearance.
o Destination agent – a company in the destination country that handles customs clearance procedures before delivering the goods to the owner’s premises.
o The broker – a move manager who does no other work apart from moving the goods across international boundaries.
The terminologies discussed above are basically what govern international freight shipping. Your familiarization with the terms is the first and vital step to understanding how the trade works. However, this alone might not be sufficient to guarantee that you don’t encounter any hiccups while shipping your commodities.
We most certainly do not want you to get caught up in the bureaucracies of the trade. Instead, we believe that your first shipping experience should be satisfying as opposed to it being the cause of much headache. Many who have blindly entered into binding contracts have had much to regret about. To save you from the frustrations of the trade, let us shift our focus to the don’ts and the right way of approaching the issues arising from such don’ts.
The first mistake you should avoid has to do with mistiming of an import or export. Time is always an important factor in any trade but when it comes to international freight shipping, timing becomes a vital consideration. Shipping of goods can even take as long as two weeks. The wait time can even be pushed further ahead depending on the clearance procedures.
For businessmen who are mainly shipping goods for sale, they need to ensure that they never run out of stock. So while purchasing commodities, they have to factor in the time the goods will be in transit to avoid inconveniencing their clients. Many first time shippers have suffered losses brought about by having facts about the timing wrong. To avoid being a victim of the same the following tips should help you:
o Research shipping times – you can utilize the numerous online platforms that provide reliable information on international freight shipping in order to get the right approximations of time. You can also get reliable time estimates from freight forwarders who have shipped goods along the same route before.
o Quote a month in advance – shipping rates are volatile in nature. As a rule of thumb, the rates are only good for a month. You should therefore make all the shipping arrangements a month before the intended shipping date.
Mistake number two has to do with insurance. Failure to take up insurance for the goods in transit or the selection of a shipping company that doesn’t insure the goods in transit might cost you your entire shipment. The goods in transit can very easily be stolen or damaged due to the many sea perils. However, cargo insurance is always available and it takes care of all the liabilities that arise from the damage or loss of goods.
To do it right, you have to discuss in greater detail with your shipping company or freight forwarder the insurance options that you have. Essential things not to miss while discussing your insurance options include:
o The type of goods that you are importing or exporting
o The terms of the insurance policy
o The scope of the insurance, and
o The availability of special provisions of the insurance policy of interest.
The last mistake that we shall talk about here has to do with the freight rates. A lot of shippers will opt for a shipping company that offers the lowest rates. The profit margin that businesses who use take charge of the lowest rates is often the incentive, but as history has shown us such profit margins might not be forthcoming. Instead of relying on the shipping rates, it is important that you also consider the following factors:
o The number of years that you’re the freight forwarder has been in business
o Company references
o Experience of the freight carrier with the type of goods you intend to ship, and
o The guarantees provided.