How to Start a Sea Air Cargo Business


Sea and air cargo businesses use aircraft and ships to transport goods. Companies in this industry are more commonly known as freight forwarders, marine shipping agents or Customs brokers, and they offer a combination of services using several transportation modes. More than 17,000 freight forwarding businesses operated in the U.S. in 2010, according to IBISWorld Industry Reports.

Earn sea freight forwarding and common carrier licenses. You must acquire two licenses from the office of the Federal Maritime Commission to venture into sea cargo business -- the ocean freight forwarder license and the non-vessel-operating common carrier license. Every company requesting a license must have at least one senior officer in its workforce with a minimum of three years experience in sea cargo services. The company must also show evidence of financial ability to run a business -- $50,000 for an ocean freight forwarder license and $75,000 for an NVOCC license.

Obtain an air cargo certification from the Federal Aviation Administration. You are required to complete a pre-application statement of intent to begin the process. The FAA also requires am air carrier certification request letter. The letter must include the name and address of the company, the details of the senior management, the number and type of aircraft the company will own or lease, and the geographical area the business will cover. The pilot's resume, certification and medical certificate must be attached to the letter.

Lease or buy the carriers. You can begin the business with one plane or ship. Aircraft approved for cargo business include the Airbus A300, Casa 212 and Merlin 4A. All business aircraft must pass the FAA's annual aircraft inspection. To run a sea cargo business, you can buy a shipping vessel or hire shipping consulting firms known as ocean freight forwarders to ship your cargo from one seaport to the other.

Fill out Form FMC-68 from the Federal Maritime Commission to insure your sea cargo. This is also known as Guaranty in Respect of Ocean Transportation Intermediary Liability for Damages. Arrange for insurance to cover cargo you are shipping via air or sea and get a liability insurance for your employees to cover accidents.

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