What is a Freight Forwarder?

An international freight forwarder is an agent for the exporter and can move cargo from “dock-to-door,” providing several significant services such as:

  • Advising on exporting costs including freight costs, port charges, consular fees, costs of special documentation, insurance costs and freight handling fees;
  • Preparing and filing required export documentation such as the bill of lading and routing appropriate documents to the seller, the buyer or a paying bank;
  • Advising on the most appropriate mode of cargo transport and making arrangements to pack and load the cargo;
  • Reserving the necessary cargo space on a vessel, aircraft, train, or truck.
  • Making arrangements with overseas customs brokers to ensure that the goods and documents comply with customs regulations.

Export freight forwarders are licensed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to handle airfreight and the Federal Maritime Commission to handle ocean freight.

Freight Forwarder Videos

Produced by the U.S. Census Bureau


How Can I Find Freight Forwarder?

Freight forwarders are located in most metropolitan areas. Local business telephone listings often feature a freight forwarder or transportation heading. Additionally, the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America will provide exporters with information on their members. They can be reached at:

1200 18th Street, NW
Suite 901
Washington, DC 20036
Tel: (202) 466-0222

Privately operated forwarder listing services, such as those below, can help to identify a local forwarder.

Directory of Freight Forwarding Services

Agricultural Freight Forwarders

An extensive, detailed database of Agricultural Freight Forwarders, including their experience shipping agricultural products, can be found here:

Agricultural Freight Forwarders