As the Christmas peak season continues, our Freight Forwarding Basics series will give you some tips and tricks to get the most out of your freight forwarder vs. customs clearing agent.
What are the main functions of a freight forwarder versus a customs clearance agent?
Although there are some, these roles are often done by the same people. Think of your freight forwarder as your one stop shop whereas your customs agent will only help you with, well, customs.
Freight Forwarder: Essentially secures the business of various exporters and importers and may have the ability/facility to
- Store cargo belonging to the clients at their warehouse (usually all big forwarders have their own warehouses)
- Arrange the distribution or “forwarding” of the cargo as per the instructions of their client. This could be a regular routing or various routing
- Negotiate freight rates with the shipping line to cover the interest of their clients
- Book the cargo with the shipping line as per the requirement of the client
- Prepare bills of lading and associated shipping/negotiating documentation (F178, Certificate of Origin, etc)
- Issue their approved house bill of lading as applicable
- MAY or MAY NOT also do Customs Clearance
Customs Clearing Agent: Essentially takes care of the customs clearance aspect of the business.
- Is a company accredited with the local customs authorities, border agencies, port etc
- Arranges to pass the relevant documents at customs
- Arrange for customs inspections as required
- Check and process Duty and VAT payments as applicable
- Apply for refunds etc where applicable
- Cannot issue own bills of lading if not registered or acting as a freight forwarder
Why do you need to hire a freight forwarder?
If you own a business that must make large shipments often, you know how difficult it can be to organise these shipments. Normally, you are working under extremely tight deadlines to ensure that your products get to their destination in time. With an experienced freight forwarder like Whale Logistics, you can save your time and effort spent on getting goods to where it's supposed to and focus your energy on your service and products instead.
Why do you need to hire a customs clearance agent?
On the other hand, the delay in getting your shipping containers released to you because of customs clearance problems could cost your business more money because the arrival of your shipment is delayed. A knowledgeable customs clearance agent will be able to relieve you of these problems and get your goods out as fast as possible. Your freight forwarder should also be able to handle your customs clearance, as can we here at Whale Logistics Australia.
Tips for effective peak season trading
- If you have not yet hired a freight forwarder or customs broker for your business, you may be missing out on large savings on time and effort during this crucial time. Choose a freight forwarder who has offices in the country or countries that you deal with, preferably close to the locations of your manufacturers, as that can also simplify things for you.
- Planning is important, so streamlining your processes and having visibility of your whole supply chain from A to Z will come handy in knowing where problems can occur. Ensure your paperwork is correct and complete, and your logistics providers are pre-booked to avoid unnecessary holding fees at port or terminal.
- Partner with a broker before you make your order is paid to the supplier in full. Global suppliers are known to over-charge Australian importers on Australian port fees by engaging with high-cost agencies of their own choosing, rather than an agency appointed by you. Remember, agencies you appoint will ensure your customer experience (and budget) is at top of mind.
- Stay on top of industry news and movements as strikes and industrial actions can cause large delays. Of course, having a freight forwarder whom you can trust to handle difficult situations such as a port strike will also relieve you of time, money, and effort solving these issues.
And as always, you can keep up with our latest updates on freight rates, shipping line delays, and other related news on our blog. Subscribe to get these articles delivered straight to your inbox once a week!
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Whale Logistics are Australia’s leading Freight Forwarder and Logistics company located in Sydney and Melbourne. We deliver digital services such as Australian customs parcel tracking, parcel delivery box, and comprehensive ocean, air and road freight solutions. For cost competitive and innovative ocean freight solutions, please click the link below to contact a Whale Logistics Freight Specialist today for a quote.