Freight Forwarders is a common term for those who have worked in an import/export business. But to those setting up a new business, this might be a foreign term. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about a freight forwarder and how you can find a freight forwarder in UK for your businesses.
What is a freight forwarder UK?
Freight Forwarders, UK specialise in moving goods and products internationally on behalf of other businesses. They’re responsible for picking up the cargo from the seller and delivering it to the international buyer at the right time. This includes overseeing the documentation of the cargo, getting all the necessary approvals in both the countries, packaging the cargo and clearing customs on behalf of the businesses.
Customs procedures and clearance can take time and cost money, which is one reason why smaller businesses choose to partner with freight forwarders. Well-established freight forwarder in the UK have experience in getting custom clearances for all types of cargo. On the other hand, they may also partner with a customs broking company that knows the ins and outs of international customs in the UK.
If you’re deciding whether you should partner with a freight forwarder or not, here are some things that you should know about them.
Things to know about a freight forwarder
1. It is a stress-free way to transport goods
Most businesses choose to partner with a freight forwarder because they know the ins and outs of supply chain management. They’re experts in international cargo transportation and can manage to transport any goods without giving the business owner any stress of the national and international procedures.
2. They are experienced in different modes of transportation
Most freight forwarder UK companies provide road, air, sea and rail transportation services. The requirements of each of these are different, and for a business that exports in different parts of the world, the process can be overwhelming. Using a freight forwarder ensures you don’t have to worry about these details.
3. They provide a wide range of services
Exporting goods to a different country involves several steps. First, there is packaging and storing of the goods so that they won’t be damaged during the transport. Secondly, you will need to get clearance from authorities of both countries to export and import the cargo. And finally, you will have to worry about a transportation service from your dock or yard to the client’s office. When using a freight forwarder, the company has employees already in place to take care of all these steps for you.
4. They can’t always be held responsible
Depending upon the contract you choose, the packaging and storage of the goods will be the responsibility of your freight forwarder. However, any delays in shipping due on your end or due to weather, natural disasters or port lockdowns are not the responsibility of the freight forwarder. While they aim to complete the delivery as soon as possible, it isn’t always their role.
5. You need to know about the restrictions
Experienced freight forwarders are aware of import/export restrictions in various countries. However, it is also important for you to know which goods and substances cannot be transported by air or sea. Many freight forwarders in the UK place restrictions on dangerous and explosive goods, alcohol, drugs, batteries, and perishable objects. Before you pack your cargo or sign a contract, make sure you’re following international restrictions and those placed by the freight forwarder.
The entire process is broken into six steps
- Transferring the goods from the producer’s warehouse to the forwarder’s warehouse.
- They get customs clearance to transport the goods from the country of origin.
- The goods are then unloaded from the packaging provided by the exporter and checked against the booking document. They are then repacked according to the forwarder’s requirements to ensure the product doesn’t get damaged during transportation.
- The goods are then transported to the foreign port, where the local customs authority checks the goods to provide customs clearance. During this step, the authorities will ensure all the documents are in order and ensure all requirements are met.
- The goods are then unpacked from the ship, train or aeroplane cargo load and transferred to the import warehouse.
- Once the cargo is unloaded, and customs are cleared, the forwarder will transport the goods to the importer’s office or the shipping address.
This process can take anywhere from 3 days to a month depending upon the mode of transportation, the customs requirements and the shipping location.
6. Look at the forwarder’s experience
While it is important to choose a freight forwarder who has the experience, you should also check where they have gotten the experience from. They should have experience in transporting goods to various countries, through various modes of transportation.
Additionally, you should also ensure that the forwarder gives on-time delivery. Experienced forwarders know how to deal with issues or problems that may arise on the way in a manner that it won’t affect their clients.
7. Freight forwarders have specialisations
Several freight forwarders in the UK have specialised teams that deal with transporting only one type of good. This is a beneficial option if you want to be certain that nothing will happen to your goods during the transportation process. The only downside of this, however, is that they charge more.
Now that you know the important points about freight forwarders, you should remember that documentation is one of the most important steps in international cargo. Without the right documentation on your behalf, your product can get stuck between two countries. Thankfully, we’ve made a list of all the documents required by forwarders in UK.
Documents required for freight forwarding in UK
There are eight standard documents that any freight forwarder or export service uses. To make sure your goods get custom clearance and you’re ready for exporting, you should understand these eight documents.
1. Proforma invoice
When you receive a local or national request for your goods, you often provide them with a preliminary quotation in the form of a bill. Similarly, the proforma invoice is a preliminary bill of sale that includes a quotation of your products or services. This invoice contains all the transaction details, including buyer and seller names, the currency of payment, mode of payment, price, etc. The buyer will look through this invoice to decide whether they will buy your products or not.
2. Commercial invoice
Once you have received an order, you will have to create a commercial invoice that includes details of the exportation. This document includes the order number, the banking and payment details, and insurance details. Many businesses invest in export documentation software to help them generate these details automatically. This helps save time and cost on behalf of your business.
3. Packaging list
A packaging list is one of the most important documents that need to be created. This is used by the freight forwarder in the UK to create bills of lading. Additionally, this document is also used by the customs officers at the destination to identify the products or the buyer. You should label your boxes or pallet according to the packaging list to ensure the customs officer doesn’t have a reason to open the product. Detailed packaging lists include the weight, dimensions and sizes of the products in both imperial and metric units.
4. Certificate of origin
Several countries require freight forwarders to show a certificate of origin to get customs clearance. While most invoices include the country of origin, this additional document cannot be ignored. You can also get an electronic certificate of origin, allowing you to minimise the time-consuming offline process.
5. Letter of instructions
Whether you’re selling specialised goods like handmade products or general metal pallets, you will want your product packaged and stored in a specific manner. This letter of instructions is provided to the freight forwarder that includes detailed instructions about transporting the cargo. This should include details about the packaging, the storage temperatures or any other specific conditions required to preserve your goods.
6. Bills of lading
There are three bills of lading documents required when you want to transport goods internationally:
- The Inland Bill of Lading is created between the seller and the shipping authority or freight forwarder. This includes details of transporting the goods from the seller’s warehouse to the forwarder’s warehouse.
- The Ocean Bill of Lading is created if you are transporting your goods by ship. You can either create a straight bill of lading (where one individual is responsible for your cargo) or a negotiable bill of lading (where the freight forwarder is responsible for your cargo and not an individual).
- The Airway Bill of lading is created when you are transporting your goods by air. However, unlike the Ocean bill of lading, these bills can only be straight.
7. Dangerous goods forms
Dangerous Good forms need to be included in your document if you are transporting goods that are considered dangerous by the International Air Transport Association or International Maritime Organization. The forms provided by both these authorities need to be completed and approved before you package the product. These forms also include labelling instruction for goods according to the level of hazard they hold.
8. Bank draft
Once your product has reached the seller, the only thing that remains is getting the payment. A bank draft is handed to the freight forwarder once they have completed the transportation. They will then give you the document. In contrast, if the buyer and seller use a bank with interconnections or a good working relationship, the draft may be handled internally. Once the delivery is complete, the buyer can authorise the bank to release the funds, and you will receive the funds.
The above-given eight documents need to be filled out in detail and with patience. Including wrong information or mistakes can cause problems for both the freight forwarder as well as your businesses.
With these many details and processes required for transporting goods, many people decide to use a courier service instead. However, there are inherent differences between both these services and before you decide not to contact a freight forwarder UK, you should know what these differences are.
What is the difference between a freight forwarder and a courier?
One of the biggest differences between a freight forwarder and a courier service is the resources they use. While courier services use their staff and vehicles to transport goods (domestically and internationally), freight forwarders rely on a network of transportation companies. They have a network of trucks, ships, aeroplanes and movers, which help them provide cost-effective transportation services.
Courier services usually work in small volumes – a single package or item from one place to another. They usually have a weight limit of 150-200 pounds per package. Whereas a freight forwarder usually transports large volumes. The minimum weight for a courier with a freight forwarder is 100-150 pounds.
Freight forwarders are the best option for moving large products over long distances. They provide efficiency, are cost-effective and good product handling.
Top freight forwarders in UK
If you’re a business based in the UK, here is some of the best freight forwarder that you can reach out to for your services.
1. Haulystic Innovation
Haulystic Innovations has a combined experience of over 100 years in providing global parcel and postal distribution. They’re experienced in providing cost-effective, innovative alternatives to the general supply chain methods used to ensure their clients will be able to get the best experience possible. They have experience in transporting goods internationally by air, road and sea.
Over the past 14 years, Haulystic Innovations has spent time developing a detailed, unbreakable supply chain, both locally in the UK as well as internationally, so that their clients never face any delay in the deliveries. Their attention to detail and technologically advanced network ensures that their clients can track their package from anywhere in the world without calling anyone.
The clients also receive regular updates in the form of emails or memos to keep them updated on their package’s current location. This is all done in the hopes that the client can promise their seller a realistic timeline for delivery and that the carrier and the seller can maintain complete transparency in their deals.
With transparent packaging policies, several clients of Haulystic Innovations have said that the company provides affordable deals and policies that make partnering with the company a good choice. They have implemented extraordinary security measures for their warehouses and cargo bays in all countries to ensure their clients face no loss of goods or get damaged goods.
Haulystic Innovations has over 320 million clients worldwide. Their expert knowledge of the customs requirements of different countries has ensured that they’ve cleared over 27 million customs in their years, operating as number 1 freight forwarders in the UK. With a vast network in the US, Asia and Europe, Haulystic is one of the best companies to partner with if you want to expand your business internationally.
Ligentia is an international freight forwarder service that is most widely known for providing 24x7x365 customer support. They’re dedicated to moving goods and products both nationally and internationally and have cultivated a network using their extensive knowledge in data analysis and logistics. Currently, the team includes over 500 people who are focused on solving supply chain issues for all their customers by creating a network that will provide no-hassle deliveries regardless of the shipping location.
Many customers prefer Ligentia because they have a dynamic business model that adapts to changes in the world. Whether you want specialised cargo packaging or are particular about deliverable times, Ligentia adapts its business model to suit its customer needs. They regularly ask their customers for feedback and implement them after analysing data from all sources.
As a company dedicated to innovation, Ligentia is setting new standards by being honest and open-minded. They have a clear idea of accountability and provide their customers with all the details upfront. They’re completely transparent in their process – whether it is priced, billing or delivery issues.
Ligentia aims to integrate world-class technology in its business model by hiring new voices and innovative minds. The business provides live tracking of goods so that you can promise honest deliverables to your customers. One of the things that make Ligentia a reliable freight forwarder in the UK is its constant expansion and integration of new technology and people.
They can always be relied upon to know the latest news in the world that affects international transport and modify their services accordingly so that their clients do not face problems with delivery. They have several offices in the UK, including those in Heathrow, Nexus, Leeds, London, Bristol, and Glasgow. Their main offices in Asia include Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, etc.
3. FPF Global Limited
FPF Global Limited has over 25 years of experience. They know all the details and documents required for importing, exporting and transferring goods nationally and internationally. Their extensive supply chain management and logistics have resulted in offices in various countries in the world.
FPF Global Limited provides air, sea and road freight services to their customers. Their air freight services are customisable and clients can choose from economy and express services. Additionally, clients can choose a door-to-door service option or door-to-airport service option according to their requirements. These options allow a client to find the best delivery package that will suit them as well as their buyer.
Their road freight services are available for consignments in Europe. With the option of Economy or part/full trailer loads, customers can choose a cost-effective import and export method. FPF Global Limited also provides sea services that are cost-effective when compared to international air freight services. The sea freight services are calculated according to their container load. Clients can choose less than container load or full container load. Their sea freight services are made for customers who want to export goods to China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan and the United States of America.
As one of the top freight forwarder UK, FPF provides reliable customs clearance services in most major airports and seaports. They handle customs clearance with complete efficiency so that you don’t lose precious delivery time. They are involved in various daily import and export consignments and know the entire process like the back of their hands. Whether you’re based in London, Felixstowe, Edinburgh, Newcastle or anywhere else in the UK, FPF Global Limited has experience in handling all types of customs.
They provide complete UK coverage, which means they can quickly handle the customs clearance of all goods and complete delivery of goods to their final destination once the cargo has cleared customs without causing you any problems.
4. Apex Logistics UK Ltd
Apex Logistics UK ltd. has over 12 years of experience in providing services in the industry. They have a comprehensive list of services that are not restricted by weight, size or dimensions. From small bags to pallet deliveries, they are capable of transporting all types of materials.
It is one of the few companies that provide special product transport. They have various packages specially designed to meet customer demands. Some of their most popular services include transportation for fragile services and liquid items. Apex Logistics is one of the best services if your business produces products that are vulnerable to breakage or damage, like those made from soft plastic or glass.
Apex Logistics also provides services for the transportation of liquid items. These items like paint, oils, drinks, etc., need to be packaged specially to ensure their cans or bottles do not burst during the transport. Their services include specialised packaging, storage as well as transportation so that the product is not damaged.
They provide services for live fish and coral life. Because transportation of these goods depends upon the delivery time and the storage conditions, Apex Logistics has hired experts who will understand the needs of fish and how to create a transportation vessel that will not disrupt the lives of these animals while they are being transferred.
Apex Logistics is based in Rochdale, Greater Manchester and has over 114 depots and ports in the UK alone. They provide door-to-door services to pick up the package from the client’s home and deliver it to the seller’s door while completing all the necessary customs processes and documentations in the middle. Their services can be tracked online because they have integrated a digital business model that allows users to input their order number to track the consignment.
5. ILG UK
ILG, or International Logistics Group, is one of the UK’s leading delivery partners. They provide complete brand support and the best logistics technology to always be in the loop about what is happening with your consignment. Their parent company, Yusen Logistics, is one of the supporting companies that allow them to provide services internationally.
They have been providing services since 1990 when they started operating from a small warehouse in Sussex. With 30 years of experience, they have over 100 bases in Europe and countless more air and shipping port warehouses, storage facilities, etc. They are specialists in providing high-quality packaging services and have partnered with companies from various sectors, including Marine, education, e-commerce, IT, travel and healthcare.
IGL is one of the few brands that have experience in handling goods of fashion and beauty. They have created a unique supply chain that will ensure that they are handled with the utmost care and will not be damaged during shipping.
IGL has three cornerstones: choice, simplicity and customer service. They believe that all employees have the choice to deliver customer satisfaction, and they should. Their simplicity is seen in the way they handle their customers and clients. There is no such thing as ‘restricted information’. The customer is always right. Whether you’re looking for help in the middle of the night or during a holiday, IGL has excellent customer service representatives that will help you out.
They provide various delivery options, including same-day delivery that can be used for local transportation. Additionally, they’re experts in global delivery services and also provide a delivery transit guide. This guide can be used to estimate the transit time and zone according to their home base so that you can determine how long it will take for your consignment to be delivered.
6. Palletline London Ltd
Palletline London is a relatively small pallet listed freight forwarder UK and Europe. They have a team of 58 people who have experience in the industry. Palletline is most well-known for meeting customers’ demands by interviewing the customers before taking consignments and finding the perfect transportation mode. Their fleet includes vehicles that can transport 7.5 tonnes to 44 tonnes of consignments.
They have also won various awards for their exceptional service. They have been the Brake – Fleet Safety Award recipient that recognises companies who have created protocols and systems that can help save human lives and avoid road accidents. They have also been the recipient of the RoSPA award three years in a row. This award recognises the company’s desire to go above and beyond when identifying the customers’ transportation, storage, and distribution needs.
Palletline provides online service booking so that you can avoid the hassle of dropping something at the offices. This door-to-door service includes labelling products and packaging them to ensure your product does not get damaged during transportation. Their care in creating a customer-centric process is what makes Palletline stand out from its competitors.
The company was originally established in 2004 and has worked with various ‘big names’ like Amazon to ensure that the clients get the exact service they need. Palletline is the perfect logistics provider if you want to ensure local transport of your goods. The service provides cost-effective packages and real-time package tracking that can be useful when you’re looking at various deadlines at the same time.
It has a central office in London and various warehouses in the country. They process approximately 300 pallets per week so that their customers never have any type of delay.
7. Customs Clearance Agents UK – AAA
Customs Clearance Agents UK – AAA freight services is an import and export specialist that provides a wide range of services in the EU, EK, Pakistan, China, Asia, America, Canada, Middle East and Australia. Their management team is trained by the British International Freight Association (BIFA) and reflects its official standards.
AAA Freight services have experience in handling the custom requirements of various air and seaports all over the world. They started operation in 2010 and since then have created a network of professionals who aim to provide complete satisfaction to all their customers. They have only one policy – to always be honest and are upfront about everything. From international delays, weather problems, and monetary issues, nothing will be hidden from the clients.
They specialise in providing two different types of services: customs clearance and freight services. If you already have an international delivery service in place but require assistance from customers, AAA can handle the job for you. Their knowledge and experience in handling customs will ensure you face no problems as you take your business global. They will take care of issuing all the right documents to you, and all you have to do is fill them out and submit them to the authorities. For additional concerns, they have customer service helplines always ready to help you.
The second type of service they provide is the freight service. This includes packaging, transportation and delivery of your goods. All you have to worry about is creating product and getting international clients while AAA ensures whatever contract you sign is delivered on time. They have experience in providing road, air and sea freight services to all their clients and can deliver products all over the world.
8. R T H Lubbers UK Ltd
R T H Lubbers has transported almost 6 million kg worth of products by air and 1.6 million products by sea. As one of the largest freight forwarder UK, they have support bases in 17 countries and have a fleet of 130 trucks that are used for transportation.
Their global freight services include air, sea, road and rail. Using their carefully cultivated network, they aim to complete deliveries in a fast, simple manner. They have tailored their chartering services to meet the needs of their customers rather than use standard cargo shipping schedules. This allows R T H Lubbers to keep pace with their customer’s growing demands and make sure that their customer can deliver the product to the buyer in the minimum amount of time possible.
They are one of the few freight forwarder UK that hasn’t created standard services. All logistics, means of transports and details are adapted according to the client requirements. With their reach in 8 countries, R T H Lubbers is capable of providing excellent customer service.
R T H Lubbers was started in 1929 by Geert Lubbers as a regional service. However, with his expertise and hands-on commitment, the company has grown to cater to a wider network of companies and clients. Their clients recognise the exceptional service they provide and their experience in the field and rely on the company for all types of services. Their varied options, the wide professional network and tie-up with many transportation companies allow R T H Lubbers to provide services to the best of their ability.
Over 90 years of experience has transformed the business to have high quality, best safety, environmental awareness and excellent operation and logistics protocol. Working with this company will ensure you can have the best freight services in the world and get the best solution to all your logistic problems.
9. SKAT Transport
SKAT has over 30 years of experience in providing TSL services. They are flexible and determined to fit their services to meet the current needs of clients and the ever-evolving market requirements. Their headquarters is based in Gdansk, Poland and have six local branches in Europe and Poland. They have over 250 employees who are some of the most experienced professionals in the industry.
Their experts from well-developed freight forwarding, ferry, transport coordination and customer service work tirelessly to find the best solutions that can be tailored to specific transport orders to meet their client needs. Their network includes a fleet of over 150 vehicles that transports more than 270,000 pallets per year.
Their programming department aims to minimise costs and shorten delivery time and service time by implementing the latest IT solutions for all employees, clients and buyers. They are one of the only businesses that maintain the average age of their vehicles. All vehicles are 18 months or younger so that they can be effective and dependable.
The company receives over 280,000 orders per year and has a turnover rate of almost 119 million Euros per year. SKAT has earned 8th place in the TSL market and has been the recipient of the Eagles of Wprost Award for providing high-quality international road transportation and forwarding services.
With over 27 years on the market, SKAT is experienced in all there is to know – from documentation, customs restrictions, to logistics of marketing in two different countries. There is no stone that SKAT has left unturned. Their office located in London oversees all the clients’ service requirements and ensures everything is met according to the brief.
10. CSM Logistics
CSM logistics is well known for offering same-day tailor able deliveries to businesses, individuals, and organisations worldwide. They provide worldwide parcel and freight delivery, and import services. The international parcel delivery times vary from 2 days to one week, where clients can choose the time based on the packages they provide.
One of the biggest advantages of partnering with CSM logistics is that they allow you to sign up online using their website and select how you want to deliver your parcel. Once you have entered the details, the portal also allows you to create a label and print it to attach to your product. They can handle all types of shipments, from large to small. There is nothing that they don’t have experience in.
They have partnered with AFFA and Sandrair, which deliver their products twice a day to Heathrow. This fast and efficient service allows you to send your products anywhere in the world. Their import services can also be door-to-door services if you don’t want the hassle of picking up your package.
CSM Logistics is experienced in custom regulations of different countries and knows how you can get your goods approved without excess hassle. Their employees know all the documents required by freight forwarders UK and guide their customers through the requirements of the nations they are delivering to.
CSM Logistics have a headquarters in London, but they also have offices in Bristol, Dartford, Northampton, and Oxford, Sunbury, Swindon and Welwyn Garden city. One of the things CSM is well known for is having a personal touch. Instead of talking to automated phone services, the company has members of staff who will personally guide you through the solution to all your problems. CSM specialises in sending large volumes of packages every day and has a tried-and-tested bulk import system that will ensure you don’t need to spend time calculating anything.
With the right partner, import and export can be a simple process. Freight forwarder in the UK specialises in providing simple, affordable services that you can use to meet your client needs and grow your network. Partnering with the right freight forwarder will likely help you meet your business goals and make your customers happy.
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