When it comes to shipping commercial or domestic goods, you can either use a freight forwarder or book directly with a shipping line. Both freight forwarders and shipping lines have unique responsibilities, which can cause confusion if problems occur during transit. To clear things up, we’ve explained what each is and their key differences.


What’s a Freight Forwarder and a Shipping Line?

A freight forwarder offers the services necessary to import and export goods through co-operation with shipping lines, truck companies, and so on. A shipping line is a company that operates the cargo vessels that deliver from the load port to the destination port. The freight forwarder doesn’t own these cargo ships; they work with the shipping lines to transport their clients’ items.

Roles and Responsibilities

A freight forwarder arranges the services you need to ship your goods overseas. This means that other service providers including shipping lines complete the movement of the goods.

Consider the overseas shipping process from start to finish, including packing the goods to delivery in the destination country. A freight forwarder is there throughout the whole process, arranging all the services that tie together seamlessly. They can arrange the careful packing of items, transportation of the goods to the port, shipment and delivery overseas. This includes any complex paperwork, as well as smooth customs clearance.

The shipping line is responsible once your goods are received at the dock, up until they arrive at the destination port. Marine insurance covers you if your items are damaged or lost, so it’s highly recommended to take out cover.

While freight forwarders offer different forms of transport via sea, air or land, a shipping line usually specialises in only one of these areas. A freight forwarder can select the best route to ensure your items arrive as quickly as possible.

Why Should I Use a Freight Forwarder?

Freight forwarders make shipping easy, taking control of the process, so you don’t have to. They carefully plan the best way to get your cargo to its destination and have special agreements with the shipping lines to negotiate competitive prices.

Freight forwarders combine cargo from multiple clients to lower costs, ideal for those shipping in small quantities. Using their expertise and careful planning, they aim to get goods to their destination as quickly and cheaply as possible. They will also complete any documentation on your behalf if required.

Freight forwarders offer one point of contact, meaning you won’t need to get in touch with each service provider individually. Shipping lines may not provide transport services to and from the port, so you will need to arrange these separately if you book directly with them.

Andrews Shipping

If you decide to use a freight forwarder, you will need to ensure they are experienced and trustworthy. Andrews Shipping has over 45 years’ of freight forwarding experience, and we provide a variety of shipping services. We have built a strong connection with the UK’s leading shipping lines to offer affordable fees and the most efficient routes.

If you would like to find out more about our services, get in touch with our friendly team.