International forwarder

International forwarder

What is an international forwarder?

Sometimes referred to as a , an works in logistics and is in charge of making sure goods are properly conveyed to their destination. They are mainly involved during multimodal operations, during which freight transits via different means of transport. Forwarders may come in the form of specialized companies or self-employed workers.

With a view to managing logistics or transport organization, international forwarders may be appointed by either the client or supplier. They boast advanced technical knowledge in many different fields. They are called upon to oversee formalities or apply regulations pertaining to international trade.

In this context, international forwarders are also in charge of clearing freight and covering import-export administrative matters. Their goal is to make sure the different delivery stages run smoothly, and bring total transport costs down. Their skills also enable them to see that deadlines are complied with.

The 6 major tasks entrusted to international forwarders

Logistics in the framework of international transport have many fields of application. International forwarders are usually commissioned to oversee the entire delivery process. However, certain companies may exceptionally entrust them with more targeted tasks. In any case, they are capable of seeing through the 6 following points:

  • Completing administrative work relating to loading and unloading operations.

  • Ensuring transit run smoothly, leaving the choice open to select the most appropriate means of transport.

  • Regular freight monitoring and communication with the mandating party.

  • Using their expertise in finance, tax optimization and business exchanges.

  • Managing disputes.

  • Ensuring good relationships between parties: authorities, insurance companies, senders and recipients, etc.

An must therefore show excellent adaptation skills, to alternate between these different tasks and anticipate potential or unforeseen problems.

Examples and practical applications

International forwarders therefore stand out thanks to their flexible approach and technical expertise. Below are some of the documents they are responsible for:

  • Documents concerning any transport-affiliated staff;

  • Insurance certificates;

  • Documentary letters of credit;

  • Forms relating to obligations, etc.

They may also be responsible for compiling an export application. The latter includes the loading slip (or ), the list of goods () and commercial invoice. In addition to this come the freight’s original certificates.

It should be noted that the can have two distinct statuses. If they are a non-vessel operating carrier, they must boast the resources and skills required for completing all the above services. However, there is no performance obligation. This point is only demanded from commissioning forwarders. Everything depends on the type of contract signed, which will determine ensuing legal obligations. It should be noted that the tasks remain the same, as does the logistical strategy rolled out. The leeway and purpose of the transport differentiate non vessel operating carriers from commissioning forwarders.

International forwarders in figures

On French soil, the market for transport organization represents 2,700 active companies, i.e. 67,000 direct jobs. Whether a commissioning forwarder or non-vessel operating carrier, international forwarders operate in a market that handles close to 21 billion euros a year in turnover.

Close to 50,000 daily operations are accounted for, and maritime import makes up more than 70% of freight volumes. International forwarders therefore have a prime role in worldwide business exchanges.


Regulatory cornerstones

  • Transport law

  • regulations and obligations

  • International legislation on the transport of goods

  • Regulations pertaining to import-export