What is Freight Forwarding? – UK Guide

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What is Freight Forwarding?

If you are already doing business with parties abroad, the term freight forwarding may be one you’re familiar with. However, if you have never dealt with a freight forwarder or merely wished to brush up your knowledge, this article will cover what a freight forwarder is and how they work.

What is Freight Forwarding? An Overview

In simple terms: freight forwarding is a logistical service industry, focused primarily on moving goods around the world on behalf of importers and exporters. Though the primary task of a freight forwarding business is the movement of cargo, they also specialise in the packing of said cargo, customs clearance and readying of documentation for their clients.

What is a Freight Forwarder?

The process of freight forwarding may seem simple from the outside, but to be a competent and trustworthy freight forwarding company requires a comprehensive background of services and expertise.

A large number of freight forwarding companies – though primarily involved in logistics – will present a multi-faceted service package to coincide with their global logistical cargo haulage, simplifying the movement of goods and services for the customer. They can facilitate this by acting in place of a customs broker and handling all import/export customs procedures, VAT and duties calculations, obligations and paperwork.

What Does A Freight Forwarder Do?

Freight forwarders specialise in the transportation of goods and cargo from one location to another, typically from manufacturer/supplier to retailer.

Freight forwarding can involve numerous steps on the haulage journey:

  • Planning and arrangement of haulage from the source of origin: from manufacturer to airport or port
  • Preparation of all relevant export paperwork, including documents and licenses
  • Negotiation and booking of freight
  • Loading of cargo on ship or aeroplane
  • Establishing insurance and tracking of cargo
  • Preparation of all import documentation for UK customs
  • Planning and scheduling of haulage and final delivery

Core Principles Underlying Freight Forwarding

Freight forwarding, as an industry, operates under the presumption that freight forwarding companies work towards delivering cost-effective haulage and logistics in the transportation of cargo in an efficient manner, maintaining the condition of the goods during transport.

To adhere to the principles underlying the freight forwarding industry, freight forwarding companies become professional experts at global logistics and planning, to guarantee timely delivery of goods. The commitment to expert haulage is why many freight forwarders have diversified their expertise and broadened their services catalogue to include in-house tariff negotiations and customs clearance, whilst employing the most advanced, real-time computer technology, tracking and fulfilment.

The Advantages of Working With a Freight Forwarder

Freight forwarding may be beneficial if you wish the import of goods and materials to be as simple and streamlined as possible. Some inherent advantages of using a freight forwarding service include:

  • Peace of mind via the use of industry experts and insurance
  • Freight forwarders specialise in the negotiation of shipping, warehousing and haulage
  • Many are experts in import/export paperwork – removing the stress for you to keep track of documentation obligations
  • One source of information, usually via a dedicated account manager

Disadvantages of Working With a Freight Forwarder

Much like everything, there are some disadvantages to consider:

  • No control over your shopping
  • Large freight forwarding companies may not prioritise smaller shipments
  • Your overall costs may increase

Brexit Fallout: The Impact on Freight Forwarding

As the UK has left the EU, as of 1st January 2021, so too has it left the EU Customs Union and unified VAT area. Though not as stringent as other non-EU countries, some customs paperwork may be required for goods moving between the UK and the EU: some companies may have never had to organise this prior.

As a result of Brexit, VAT will now be payable on all imported goods from the EU valued at over £135.

As a result of Brexit and the increase in legislative red tape, freight forwarding companies have seen an uptick in enquiries: probable that retailers and other businesses do not have the manpower or capacity to deal with the increased administrative burden resulting from parting with the EU Customs Union.

Breakwells Haulage and Logistically Expertise

As an expert in logistics, Breakwells deliver market-leading service and competent haulage solutions.

We cover the UK-based haulage journey of your cargo, as well as any necessary customs clearance and documentation, whilst also providing on-site storage and fulfilment, if necessary.

Our itemised quotation will include:

  • Transportation costs – all local, UK costs.
  • Packing/Palletisation
  • Product-specific cost and incurrences – hazardous materials, heavy goods, high-tech prototypes and other non-ordinary cargo may require specialised transportation and protection solutions
  • Document costs
  • Insurance and surcharges to cover fluctuations in currency or commodities
  • Admin/handling fees
  • Storage, if needed
  • Specialised route and time frame charges

Breakwells is a family-owned company with over 50 years of haulage, storage and logistics experience. We provide world-class logistics solutions packages, covering: haulage of cargo, customs obligations, storage and order fulfilment.

Should you require advice on storage, third-party distribution or logistics, or would like to receive a price quotation, please do contact us today.

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