International trading company and shipping party: who does what?

Export is about sending your goods abroad which makes it vital to select the right shipping company for your transportation needs. The key, of course, is identifying the right shipping company for a long term association. Who are the parties involved?

The parties and procedures involved

There are various groups involved in the successful shipping of exported products.

  • The shipping process begins with you. Whether you’re exporting or importing, you should have the mandatory legal documents for shipments to go through.
  • The overseers of your shipment are your chosen international shipping company. They will take care of your products while they are on the move.
  • Someone has to check your products before being shipped so that they can quote the amount for the move. The packing and preparing of goods for the shipment is done by the same origin agent. Origin agents could be the freight forwarder, the consolidating warehouse or the move manager.
  • Freight forwarders come into the picture when documentation is required. They can arrange all necessary papers related to ocean freight, transport etc for the shipment to carry on.  
  • Without an exclusive container, you’ll have to store your shipment with other cargo and share space in a warehouse until your products are ready to be moved by land.
  • Once your products are sealed and ready to be shipped, they will be docked at the export port. Each country has particular origin port fees for exported goods.
  • The shipping line issues the ‘master bill of lading’ or ‘sea waybill of lading’. The shipping line is the company that owns the ship. It’s a good idea to ask which ship line your goods will be on so that you can track the progress of your products.
  • There are companies that own or rent the ocean container where your products will be kept, and these are called container lines.
  • The unloading of cargo will occur at the destination port.
  • Your goods will be temporarily held at the Customs bonded warehouse while the legal documents of your products are meticulously scrutinised.
  • The destination agent will then take care of clearing procedures, dealings with the port and delivery to your target destination.
  • You may choose to hire a broker or just let your shipping company handle the rest of the shipment. A broker is a move manager that does not do the other jobs. Some countries may find the use of brokers as being illegal, so be careful when hiring one.

Selecting a shipping company

Selecting a shipping company is the most important aspect in international shipment of products. Your sales agent must understand the demands of your chosen shipping company, at the same time learn to evaluate their flaws.

Here are a few tips on how to select the right shipping company:

  • Try to reduce your shipping volume. Remove what is unnecessary and keep your cargo as light as possible.
  • Check out references and follow advice from trusted sources when choosing a shipping company.
  • There are many shipping companies in the market, but you may choose the top three or more to compare costs and benefits instead of going through 50 of them, as this may be time-consuming.
  • Contact the three shipping companies and have them survey your goods.
  • Read and understand the entire quote given to you. Do not skip details, because it explains the total price.

Align with your local agent if you already have one, to get clarity on the exact import procedures in the target country. Also, check on the insurance, and possible issues with hidden fees, customs fees and other extra charges that may arise during the shipping process.

Be prepared to ask questions and clarify documents with your international shipping company.

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