Shipping forwarder

Shipping forwarder

What is a shipping forwarder?

Shipping forwarders are defined as professionals (individuals or a company) responsible for the transport of goods via maritime routes. Appointed by either the sender or recipient, they organize whilst complying with budgetary constraints and estimated delivery deadlines.

The reason for calling upon a would be to oversee the transport of a certain volume of goods, to ensure proper receipt. Given the nature of , they must be able to prove sound knowledge in international law and regulations.

The shipping forwarder’s role is to guarantee the delivery’s continuity right up to the final destination. In certain cases, they may also resort to solutions, namely by using inland port networks. This depends on the journey and where the recipient lives.

The 7 main services provided by shipping forwarders

Shipping forwarders are mostly known for their knowledge in transport logistics. Thanks to their professional network and technical expertise, they are able to optimize each journey with a view to lowering costs and delivery lead times. Generally commissioned by a third party, they nonetheless offer a range of very specific services.

Their skills include the following:

  • Overseeing loading and unloading operations, with possible transfers from one transport means to another;

  • Negotiating delivery fees;

  • for goods whose freight volume would benefit from minimized transport costs;

  • Completing all the insurance formalities with companies, and managing disputes relating to damages, loss or theft;

  • Compiling all the documents required for freight import or export;

  • Warehouse management;

  • Regular or real-time follow-up of transport progress.

To complete these tasks appropriately, shipping forwarders also maintain good relationships with the various stakeholders. These include , chambers of commerce, customers and the supplier that appointed them.

Examples and practical applications

Responsible for ensuring the right results and complying with set deadlines, shipping forwarders must cover all administrative formalities pertaining to transport. An exhaustive file with all necessary substantiating documents limits the goods’ holding time, namely during . Forwarders can resort to paperless to save time. The following documents are just some of those which must be provided to the authorities or competent structures:

  • Insurance certificates, under which a policy was taken out;

  • Documentary credits;

  • Documents pertaining to legal matters and possible past or current disputes;

  • Information relating to transport personnel;

  • formalities, along with the substantiating documents required for each process;

  • The export file: , , and commercial invoice.

Shipping forwarders are also required to search for tax optimization solutions, and financially manage the transport they are in charge of.

Shipping forwarders in figures

represents over 80% of the world’s business exchanges. French port traffic registers close to 7 million containers in all its hubs. 3 in 4 national import operations use maritime routes.

When considering the different transport means available, waterways in France count for 2% of the country’s traffic. It should be noted that waterways are an economical form of transport, as they can bare freight volumes equivalent to 4 trains, or more than 200 trucks.


Regulatory cornerstones

  • French and international regulations

  • Law on business exchanges on a national and international scale

  • Transport Code