What is the necessary information when getting a quote from your freight forwarder?


As the middleman between the shippers and the carriers, the freight forwarder acts as an expert in logistics as they organize the entire process of transportation of cargo from their origin point to their final destination, providing a quote with the expenses of the importation, or exportation, to their clients. But what exactly does the freight forwarder need to know about the cargo to get that quote right?

First of all, what is the cargo?

Each type of cargo needs different information in order to be transported, so what exactly is being moved is a good way to start. The product needs to be thoroughly described, so the use of images, videos and catalogs are welcome. The product also needs to have its name properly translated into the languages from the countries that will be involved in the operation.

The NCM/HS Code  

To avoid misunderstandings of what the cargo is, we use a numerical code to classify the type of product in a way that breaks language barriers. This six-digit standardized code is called Harmonized System Code (HS) and it is used around the world to identify products and apply the correct duties and taxes over them, but the South American Trade Block (MERCOSUR) has developed its own code, with two extra digits, that is called NCM. 

If it is a hazardous material

One of the most important information about the cargo is if it is or contains a hazardous material of some sort. The Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a document that provides precious information about dangerous materials, to make sure that all of the people that will handle them have the necessary information to do it safely. 

If it is temperature sensitive

It’s vital that the freight forwarder knows if the cargo needs to be refrigerated or heated. How it needs to be done, however, depends on what exactly the cargo is, since each kind of sensitive cargo have their own peculiarities such as an ideal temperature for transportation that needs to be maintained during the whole trip.

The weight and dimensions

It’s necessary to consider the entire weight and dimension of the cargo, that means we have to take the packaging into account, as well as the pallets that will be used during the transport, otherwise this could cause problems during pickup and, eventually, delays in the delivery. 

How the cargo should be handled

This kind of specification usually goes on the package, “fragile, please handle with care” or “do not stack”, this needs to be made very clearly to avoid mishandling of the cargo which could lead to loss of goods. 

About the operation

The operation itself is the specialty of a freight forwarder, this involves the planning of how things should be done, considering the origin and the destination, all of the methods of transportation involved, if any additional services might be needed, and, of course, the Incoterms.

Globally recognized, the Incoterms facilitate commerce around the world, specifying what are the rights and obligations of both the buyer and the seller of the product that is being transported, usually determining where the responsibility of the seller begins and ends during a trade operation. 

Also, the freight forwarder needs to know if the cargo has urgency, since getting cargo moved in shorter periods of time and delivered in specific days will certainly come with an extra cost.

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