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Forwarding agent (forwarder)

Their role is in direct relation to the goods. They are often Customs brokers and, most of the time, freight forwarders. They act as representatives of an importer/exporter – shipper/consignee and therefore have an obligation of means towards them.

When they also act as freight forwarders they are bound by a performance obligation.

They must perform numerous administrative tasks in various fields, a situation that actually makes them true technicians of foreign trade. They have many keys to open the right doors with a certain number of authorities (Customs, veterinary or phytosanitary offices, etc.) and they master conditions of sale.

In brief, they are the exporter’s guides and advisors for both deliverer and consignee.

In France two legal statuses exist:

  • Authorized representative (mandataires): They execute the orders given by the client, do not choose the transport company, have an obligation of means and are liable for their actions.
  • Brokers (commissionnaires): They organize and coordinate the instructions of their client, chose the subcontractor, have a performance obligation and may be held liable for their faults and those of their substitutes (within the same limits).

Source: multiple Internet sources, specialized literature, testimonials (Pratic-Export, Pôle-emploi cards, Wikipedia, Onisep, CNRTL, Umep à la Page…)