Difference between a freight forwarder and a Clearing agent
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Difference between a freight forwarder and a Clearing agent

I get asked this question so many times.
What is the difference between a Freight Forwarder and a Clearing Agent?
With the globalisation of  world trade, there is increasingly a thin line between a Freight Forwarder and a clearing Agent.
However, there are differences which you need to know so that you manage your expectations at every level of delivery of your cargo.

Freight Forwarder:
  • Is an agent for the the exporter or Importer of cargo from one destination to another. The destination can be within a country or from country to country.
  • A Freight Forwarder should have the knowledge and ability to handle paperwork concerning the importation and exportation of your cargo.
  • A Freight Forwader prepares Bills of Lading and associated documentation.
  • A Freight Forwader should have knowledge about regulation of handling cargo by air, sea, ocean, train or road in various foreign countries. ( This will depend on the areas covered by your preferred Freight Forwarder)
  • Freight Forwarder can assist exporters to prepare price quotes, advise on costs. Port Charges, Consular Fees, Handling Fees, Insurance fees.
  • A Freight Forwarder recommends on secure  packaging methods
  • A freight Forwarder can arrange for the storage and warehousing of your cargo before and after delivery.
  • Can do customs clearance if they are accredited to the local customs or Port.
A good freight forwarde will review all documents to make sure that everything is in order, this is particulary important when dealing with a letter of credit. Documentation errors are usually costly to correct once the cargo is in transit.

Clearing Agent:
A Customs Clearing Agent is a person or company accredited to the local Customs  Authority or Port.
    • Takes care of all the  customs clearing component of the business.  Customs business is limited to activities involving transactions related to the entry and admissibility of merchandise; its classification and valuation;
    • Submission of Clearance documentation to Customs Authorities.
    • Sending advicse and other documents to the exporter/ importer.
    • The payment of duties, taxes, or other charges assessed or collected; or the refund, rebate, or drawback thereof.
    • They cannot make their own bill of lading if not registered or acting as a Freight Forwarder.

    Like the Freight Forwarder, a Clearing Agent will recomment efficient methods of clearing your cargo, reducing the Government red-tape associated with customs rules and regulation.

    In most cases Freight Forwarder and Clearing Agents work hand in hand to facilitate a smooth transaction.

    Care should therefore be taken in appointing Afreight Forwader and a Clearing Agent.

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