What are the Operations in Freight Forwarding?

Freight forwarding plays a key role in moving goods between different destinations. Although freight forwarders do not do the shipping themselves, their services are still highly specialized in the shipping process.

Firms that handle freight forwarding have an objective to make sure goods are properly shipped and arrive on the date they are supposed to. Freight forwarders are responsible for handling every step of the cargo process including cargo manifests, insurance claims, and even internal bills of lading.

There are different operations or stages involved in the freight forwarding process. These are:

  • Export haulage

This stage refers to the moving of items from the location of the shipper into the freight forwarders’ warehouse. Typically, a truck or train is used to transport the goods between the destinations.  The time it takes to transport them can vary depending on the distance of the transport, the size and amount of goods, and the geographic location. Usually, the first stage of freight forwarding can take anywhere from a few hours to several weeks.

The responsibility for paying and arranging the haulage is also dependent on the agreement between the consignee and the shipper. If they agree for the consignee to be responsible for the shipment right from the shipper’s location, then it is the consignee’s duty to arrange the export haulage. Otherwise, it would be the responsibility of the shipper.


  • Items checkpoint

Immediately after the first stage, the freight forward responsible for receiving the goods will then do a mandatory checkup of the shipment to ensure that all the goods were transported without any problems.


  • Clearing of export customs

Items require clearance from the country of origin before they can be shipped off. This is the responsibility of the customs brokers. Their duty involves submitting details about the cargo along with any supporting documents that would be required.

Generally, the shipper and the consignee establish an agreement and decide who would be responsible for arranging customs clearance. If the freight forwarding firm does not offer customs clearance, then it is required to look for a third-party customs broker to handle the process.

  • Customs clearance for importation

This stage takes place once the shipment arrives at its destination. The authorities from the location are required to check the import documents. However, this process actually starts even before the cargo arrives. A freight forwarder or an assigned customs broker will usually obtain clearance before the arrival of the shipment in order to save time and streamline the process.

  • Destination arrival and handling

Several processes take place during this stage. When the items arrive, freight forwards will handle receiving all necessary documents for the cargo such as outstanding documentation, carrier bills, and other related documents. A freight forward is always responsible for this process.

  • Import haulage

This stage is almost similar to export haulage. In this process, the cargo is transported from the warehouse to the location of the final and intended receiver. They can either have freight forwards facilitating the process or the consignee can decide to collect the items themselves.



The steps are a general outline of what most companies involved in international trade undergo in the freight forwarding process. The operations are very straightforward but are still essential to the logistics process.