Relates to the notion of dispatch

What is forwarding?

refers to a management concept whereby goods are set to be conveyed by various means of transport. To do so, a company or person (forwarder) is commissioned to manage all the logistical and organizational aspects of the transport process in question.

Also known as the , the forwarder (or ) makes sure conveyance is ensured as planned. Based on regulations and international exchanges, they are required to meet administrative obligations. Financial and sales management is part of their prerogatives when completing their tasks.

The principle of is based on smooth exchanges and transport, with no blockages or temporary interruptions caused by management issues. It should be noted that also includes the subscription to insurance policies pertaining to dispute management.

Specificities of forwarding: 5 major areas of application

  • Several means of transport are required for conveying the goods.

  • Transport will take place nationally or internationally: for global exchanges, import-export knowledge is required.

  • Comprehensive supervision of the transport process is needed: administrative, financial, legal, commercial and .

  • Logistical implementation includes the choice of transport methods: maritime, road, rail or air.

  • consists in anticipating any transport constraints, and being able to adapt to the situation and manage any unforeseen events and disputes. Regular or real-time monitoring is therefore essential, to ensure optimal conditions during the trade of goods.

Although their approach and tasks are relatively similar, there are two types of forwarders. Their status changes according to how they are called upon, and to the contractual clauses binding them to the dispatcher or recipient. A non-vessel operating carrier has signed a mandate agreement with their customer. A commissioning forwarder bases their work on a commission contract. The main difference lies in their legal responsibilities. The commissioner has a performance obligation. The non-vessel operating carrier is more of an intermediary. They have a best-efforts obligation, but their status grants them more flexibility regarding service quality.

Examples and practical applications

To guarantee efficient for customers, the forwarder must create a file containing all export documents. These will serve as proof upon presentation to the authorities. The file must include:

  • The goods’ : under a certified entity’s control, the exporter fills in the document to ensure traceability;

  • The : a document relating to international trade. It lists all the product references and their features (weight, packaging, etc.), in compliance with the commercial invoice;

  • The commercial invoice;

  • The : this is the transport contract drafted and accepted by the loader and transporter.

Forwarding in figures

Due to the increasing number of international exchanges, freight has never ceased to grow. The sector registers an approximate annual growth of close to 5%. This represents several hundreds of millions of euros, depending on the country in question (the Netherlands, Spain or France for instance).

Its market share has boomed in the field of transport and logistics, now occupying close to 25%. These figures are expressed as averages. They are likely to vary depending on the results seen in certain specialized companies or in companies using it as an extra activity.


Regulatory cornerstones

  • International law on the transport of goods

  • Transport law

  • regulations