Ocean Freight Forwarder

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What does an Ocean Freight Forwarder Do?

When asked what ocean freight forwarders do, most of the general public have little or no idea what role these entities play in the transport of goods from one place to another. While there are some differences between the processes used for ocean freight forwarding compared to air freight, in general, the freight forwarder’s role is the same whether freight is being moved on the ocean, air or land. Here is an overview and general description of what an ocean freight forwarder like Eagles Air & Sea does for their customers when they have goods that need transport.

An Ocean Freight Forwarder is an Agent for the Shipper

  • When someone hires a freight forwarder such as Eagles Air & Sea to take care of their shipping requirements, they are hiring the freight forwarder to act as their representative or agent when dealing with the ocean or air freight company that will actually be hauling the goods.
  • In this respect, freight forwarders are “travel agents” for your cargo. We take care of the customs, import/export rules and regulations of the countries your goods will be going into and out of.
  • Freight forwarders also act as the liaison to the ocean line that is going to be doing the handling and transshipment of the goods, reserving space, confirming schedules and insuring the safety of your cargo.

Freight Forwarders are Licensed 

  • Eagles Air & Sea, like other ocean freight forwarders, are licensed by the proper authorities to handle the goods of international commerce.
  • The Federal Maritime Commission licenses ocean freight forwarders.
  • When you are booking your goods with an agent it is important to make sure they have these certifications to insure the safety of your goods.

The Shipping Process

  •  The main job of the freight forwarder is to help the exporter, or shipper, with the preparation of the documentation, reserving space in the transit vehicle, and to make sure such things as insurance, port charges, consular fees and handling charges are all understood by the shipper and are covered in their entirety.
  • Understanding how to pack the goods safely and efficiently are another important service of the freight forwarder. Typically, the freight forwarder will incorporate all of the special charges, freight costs, and handling fees into a single invoice for the benefit and convenience of the shipper.
  • Interactions with foreign customs brokers, port authorities and banking entities that are handling the financial part of the shipment are also included in the services provided by the freight forwarder.

Frequent Asked Questions 

How long will it take to ship via ocean freight?

This will vary depending on the time of year, distance between ports of call and the ocean carrier’s schedule. It can be as quick as 3-4 days or as long as 45 days. Your freight forwarder will be able to give you a reasonably accurate time when you book your freight.

Who should pay for the ocean freight charges, me or my supplier?

That is entirely up to you and your supplier/customer and should be a part of the business relationship between the two of you. There are pros and cons to paying the freight yourself, including how the freight is handled and how much insurance coverage is put on the shipment.

Is my ocean freight insured?

We always recommend that you secure insurance for your ocean cargo. While accidents are rare, we have all read stories about containers lost at sea during storms. When goods arrive in a damaged condition can be hard to know where in the supply chain the damage happened and who will pay for that damage, so it is always best to secure insurance through your ocean freight forwarder.

What is the difference between a “commodity” and “cargo”?

A commodity is typically a raw material like iron ore, soybeans or lumber. A commodity becomes cargo when it becomes part of the transportation system. For instance, you may ship a load of soybeans as “cargo” but it becomes a “commodity” when it is bought or sold after its arrival in a port.

What is the difference between multimodal and Intermodal?

At its core, the difference is defined by the responsible entity during transport. A multimodal example would be if cargo was moved by truck to the ship and then unloaded and delivered by truck all under the contract of one freight forwarder. Intermodal indicates responsibility for only one leg of that journey. 

What is a “bill of lading” and why is it needed for ocean freight?

In simple terms, a bill of lading is the legally accepted document that describes the cargo in terms of amount, description and destination.

Ocean Freight Forwarders play an important role in international as well as locally based commerce. If you need to ship equipment, personal goods, retail purchases or manufactured products anywhere in the world, we invite you to contact Eagles Air & Sea for all of your freight forwarding requirements. We will make sure your shipment is handled professionally, safely and economically no matter where its destination may be.


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