1. What is freight forwarding? What do forwarders do?

FIATA adopted and published the following definition in 2004:

Freight forwarding and logistics services 

Freight forwarding and logistic services means services of any kind relating to the carriage (performed by single mode or multimodal transport means), consolidation, storage, handling, packing or distribution of the goods, as well as ancillary and advisory services in connection therewith, including but not limited to customs and fiscal matters, declaring the goods for official purposes, procuring insurance of the goods and collecting or procuring payment or documents relating to the goods. Freight forwarding services also include logistic services with modern information and communication technology in connection with the carriage, handling or storage of the goods, and de facto total supply chain management. These services can be tailored to meet the flexible application of the services provided.

Freight forwarding is all about the facilitation of international trade. The freight forwarder is the party who ensures that internationally traded goods move from point of origin to point of destination to arrive:

  • at the right place
  • at the right time
  • in good condition
  • at the most economical cost

To accomplish this, expertise is required in a number of different areas:

Logistics

Close cooperation is required with transporters in every mode – road, rail, sea and air. Freight forwarders are constantly negotiating freight rates and service conditions with transport providers, comparing the costs of moving cargo along different routes via different modes and then designing logistics service chains, which provide the best compromise between cost, speed and reliability.

Regulatory compliance

A vital ingredient to successfully trading between world markets is that every transaction must comply with many regulatory measures and requirements, sometimes carrying fairly complex procedures, especially those associated with customs and security. In the area of regulatory compliance, the specialized skills and knowledge of the freight forwarder come to the fore. Traders who avail themselves of the service of skilled freight forwarders find the assistance they need to make their trade efficient, secure and compliant.

Risk management

To every international trade transaction there is an element of risk and the increased complexity of international trading as compared to local buying and selling requires that these risks are managed with tools which are correspondingly more sophisticated. International traders require that their forwarders be in position to advise and assist them in minimizing those risks which are particularly associated with the movement of goods – loss, damage and destruction, although the exposure of forwarders to the international environment in its entirety makes their counsel as regards matters like credit and currency risks very much sought after.

Finance and payment

Forwarders are entrusted with goods which are often dispatched under conditions where buyer and seller are not known to one another. Under these circumstances the forwarder must scrupulously ensure that all requirements of the door to door operation are fully complied with, especially in the accurate and timely production of documentation is concerned – excellence in this field leads to prompt settlement for goods purchased and satisfied traders. An especially gratifying aspect of freight forwarding is the facilitation, through consultancy and networking, of the entry of new exporters and importers into new markets. More often than not this involves advice as to alternative methods of financing of the transactions concerned and the establishment of payment methods that are mutually beneficial to both parties.

Cross functional integration

The forwarder is ideally placed to act as the catalyst to maximize the benefit from advances in information technology which are revolutionizing modern traders’ processes. Furthermore, the role of the forwarder will be key because, in adopting cross functional integration strategies, companies are increasingly outsourcing their non-core activities. The ability to ensure the efficient and effective door-to-door movement of goods from country to country from the time an order is placed until finished goods are delivered to the intended consignee places the freight forwarder in a position to make a unique contribution to the enhancement of the value of the traded goods.

2. Does FIATA offer training courses in freight forwarding and logistics?

FIATA, in conjunction with its Association Members around the world, offer local and regional training centres. Association Members are listed on our Members Directory and can be approached directly. Should you need further assistance, please contact the FIATA head office in Geneva.

3. How can my company obtain FIATA documents and forms?

FIATA has created the following documents and forms:  

  • FIATA Forwarders Certificate of Receipt

  • FIATA Forwarders Certificate of Transport

  • FIATA Warehouse Receipt

  • FIATA Forwarding Instructions

  • Negotiable FIATA Multimodal Transport Bill of Lading

  • Non-negotiable FIATA Multimodal Transport Waybill

  • Shipper’s Intermodal Weight Certification

  • Shipper’s Declaration for the Transport of Dangerous Goods

The issuance of these documents by freight forwarders is controlled by FIATA Association Members. They are responsible for the printing and distribution in their respective countries and/or regions. FIATA documents and forms are only available to freight forwarders where there is a FIATA Association Member. For more information, see the brochure FIATA Documents and Forms.

4. Do I have to belong to an Association Member in my country to get my application for FIATA membership accepted?

The FIATA Statutes (article 4.4.1) require a written approval of the Association Member:

“The acceptance of membership of a forwarding company requires the written approval of the Association Member of the country or region from where the application is made.” 

5. How can I check which companies are FIATA Individual Members?

The names and addresses of all freight forwarding companies and Association Members affiliated to FIATA are listed in the online Member Directory, containing 108 Association Members and more than 5,800 Individual Members in some 150 countries. This directory of qualified freight forwarders and logistics providers is continuously updated and can be freely consulted.

6. My company's name and/or details haven changed, how can I update them on the FIATA Member Directory?

To register a company name change, particularly but not limited to when a change in type of incorporation occurs e.g. Ltd, LLC, PLC, you must submit a FIATA Individual Membership Application Form. For more information, contact the FIATA head office at info@fiata.com.

FIATA relies on its members for up-to-date company information. Should there be any changes in your company details e.g. address, phone number, email, please contact the FIATA head office at info@fiata.com.

7. How can I renew my FIATA membership?

FIATA sends invoices for membership renewal in January and issues a new member certificate each year. All fees should be paid no later than the 31 May to maintain membership status.

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