For many business owners and consumers, freight forwarders are an unfamiliar service sector. In reality, there are different types of providers that support logistics needs for those entities who need to move their goods internationally. 

While terms and requirements vary throughout the world, a freight forwarder license will generally be a term applied to two types of service providers capable of moving your cargo internationally:

  • Freight Forwarder 

A freight forwarder with a freight forwarder license will handle your cargo by actually taking physical possession of the goods. They are typically capable of picking cargo up, packaging it, storing it and delivering it to the ship or airport. 

Freight forwarders manage the documentation to ensure your goods have a place on the ship or airplane and that they clear customs upon arrival at the designated destination. In simple terms, the freight forwarder is your cargo’s “travel agent” and is responsible for moving your shipment from one point to another. 

  • NVOCC or Non Vessel Operating Common Carrier 

An NVOCC is a common carrier that provides ocean freight. NVOCC’s typically issue their own bills of lading but they don’t actually operate the ships that carry the cargo. What this definition means to business owners and the public is that the NVOCC will normally have a business relationship with the shipping line. They will have arranged space with a shipping line that can provide a volume based discount. 

As a result of this type of arrangement, NVOCC’s will have customers that not only include an exporter or importer, but could also be a freight forwarder or freight broker. 

  • Freight Forwarder vs. NVOCC – What’s the difference?

Maybe the best way to look at the difference between a freight forwarder and an NVOCC is to understand that a freight forwarder is acting as your agent to contract with a shipper while the NVOCC is providing you with a service similar to what a shipping line would offer a large client. 

The differences between NVOCCs and freight forwarders will sometimes overlap and it is important to keep in mind that they both provide services required by their customers. 

The most important thing to consider when looking for a service provider to move your cargo internationally is the reputation qualifications that provider brings to the party. A freight forwarder license is a good first step to consider when looking for an agent. Many freight forwarders have long term working relationships with various NVOCC’s that will enable you to enjoy the benefits of reduced pricing and flexibility when shipping goods around the world. 

At Eagles Air & Sea we work with a wide range of transportation providers to ensure that your cargo will travel in a safe, cost efficient and timely many.