Comparing International Movers and Freight Forwarders
It is difficult enough to plan a relocation to a different country. There is so much to do, between packing, gathering documentation together, finding the right company, and researching your new destination, it seems there is a never-ending list of things you have to do to be ready. To make matters worse, while you are doing your research to find the perfect international moving company, you come across terms that you may not fully understand. Two of these terms might be international movers and freight forwarders. They might seem the same, but there are subtle differences between the two.
The main difference between international movers and freight forwarders is simple. Your international mover will handle packing, moving, and transportation of your items, while freight forwarders are very specialized and mostly handle the logistics of international moving. This is why freight forwarders are sometimes also known as logistics companies. Sometimes you can just use an international mover, sometimes you can just use a freight forwarder, and often times they will have to work together in order to complete your move.
When you have to use both types of companies, you will probably only receive one bill for the entire service. This might lead you to believe that they are the same company. This is not the case. When you hire an international moving company they will in turn higher the freight forwarder as a third party. The freight forwarder would charge the moving company, and they would pass those charges onto you. The same would be true in reverse if you hire a freight forwarder, they could hire the moving company for packing and ground transportation, and reflect those charges on your overall bill.
Understanding Freight Forwarding More Clearly
To clarify more clearly what a freight forwarder does, a lot of international moves involve items being shipped over an ocean. The freight forwarder would handle all of the aspects of the ship itself. They would drive it, track your items, gather all of the paperwork, talk to the customs agents of the country that you are relocating to, and do maintenance on their own ships. It is very rare for a freight forwarder to handle any shipments on the ground, although it does happen on occasion. They are a vital part of the moving process, because they can handle so many things themselves, without having to make contracts with several different companies or agents, especially those that deal with customs. Every country has different rules and regulations with their customs department. So having a freight forwarding company, who are experts when it comes to customs, is an indispensable tool to the whole process.
Another reason why it is a good idea to utilize a freight forwarding company is because they are certified and licensed to handle cargo overseas. Typically, they will ship cargo for businesses, as opposed to personal items for an individual person. However, when you first go through an international moving company, the shipment that the freight forwarder makes is on behalf of the company. It is a delicate balance between an international moving company and a freight forwarder, but when they partner up on a job, things work a lot more smoothly. A freight forwarder is an expert on the areas that an international moving company might not be that great at, and vice versa.
If you are planning on making a move overseas, chances are you will be using these two services to get the job done. It is advisable to start by contacting the international movers first, and letting them contract work out to the freight forwarder, because the moving company will actual handle more aspects of the moving process. However, it is a good idea to ask a potential moving company if they ship items themselves, or if they do use a third party forwarding company to do the job, so you can have a greater understanding of what the overall cost might be. Do as much research as you can, and find out which path is best for you.