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Freight forwarder

Freight forwarders receive goods and forward them in the best possible way whatever their destination and the mode of transport chosen.

When goods are ready to be used they still need to be forwarded to the client. This is when freight forwarders, as the true organizers of international transport they are, step in. They are specialized in all matters related to transport and customs formalities. They also manage most of the journey products make from their place of production to their place of consumption. They are in charge of the organization of transport from factory to store. They act under their own responsibility and in their name and have the freedom to choose how the goods will be forwarded to their delivery point.

Without forwarders there would be total chaos: they are the ones who book transport companies (by road, sea, inland waterways and sometimes air) so that goods can reach their destination in the time frame and at the cost chosen by the client.

Considered by many companies as trustworthy men and women in all situations, freight forwarders specialize sometimes according to the type of flow or goods (country, continent) or by product (industrial, mainstream, bulk, etc.). In any case the same thoroughness is expected from them, whether their clients be multinationals or very small companies.

Precision and relation

To be a good freight forwarder one must know all the procedures related to international transport and know how to maintain a very good relational network, whether it be with clients or suppliers who take physical transport of good in charge. In this regard freight forwarders may be compared to architects.

Freight forwarders supervise the transport chain up to delivery, that is to say that they may act both upstream and downstream in transport operations, ensuring storage and management of stock, packaging and delivery of goods thanks to tracing and tracking tools which allow them to know at all times where the goods they were entrusted with are located and to organize, depending on the case, alternate routes and keep their client informed.

Accurate in the following up of each case (a forgotten detail or a missing document may delay shipping), they often give advice to their client on the best way to organize his logistical flows. As a matter of fact, even if today everything goes faster and if physical distances are great, close human relationships remain an asset in this profession of a thousand faces in which routine does not exist.

They sign the contracts (in their name) necessary to perform the transport. Two types are involved in the operation: the first one is established between the shipper and the freight forwarder and is called the transport commission contract. The second is established between the forwarder and the transport company and is called the transport agreement.

In order to become a freight forwarder one shall file a request of registration to the register of freight forwarders (kept by the Direction Régionale de l’Équipement) with the Préfet de Région.

This document is only delivered upon three conditions:

  • Professional competence
  • Repute
  • Financial capacity

In Le Havre, several dozen companies employing over 1 600 employees (10% of direct jobs in the port) specialize in freight forwarding and customs broking.

International transport increases and employment perspectives are good: curious, open, with a good command of the English language and possibly a second language, freight forwarders hold at the minimum a bachelor degree (DUT Transport & Logistique, BTS Commerce International).

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