How to Compare International Rates for Freight Forwarding


If you need to ship freight internationally, a little homework will go a long way in comparing rates. Freight forwarders handle every aspect of shipping and receiving. Freight forwarders prepare all shipping documents, customs clearance, picking up and delivering your freight to any destination worldwide. While international shipping prices involve many factors, selecting the right company should not always be based solely on price. While researching companies, focus on those which specialize in your specific industry, those who have a good reputation and that have been recommended by friends or colleagues.

Determing what you are shipping

  • Make an inventory list of items you are shipping. Record the measurements of containers being shipped including weight, number of pieces and dimensions. Determine the proper classification code for freight. If you do not know the classification code, give a description of goods and a freight forwarder can determine the code for you. All of these will factor in the cost of shipping freight.

  • Contact local freight forwarders and provide them with a detailed description of your freight. Give them name and address of both shipper and the receiving party. Tell the freight forwarder when you need the items delivered and request a rate quote. Specify your preferred method of transportation.

  • Compare quotes. Once you have received estimates from different companies, compare them side-by-side in order to determine which company best suites you. Compare prices, travel time, and mode of transport.

    Remember, the freight forwarder handles all international aspects of shipping and receiving by coordinating logistics with a local agent in the county of destination,and confirming the delivery to consignee.

Tips & Warnings

  • When recording measurements of containers being shipped, remember to list length by width by height. (This is extremely imporant for determining the cost of air freight).
  • Always ask for both air and ocean rate quotes, in order to have more options.
  • If any of your items being shipped are dangerous or hazardous materials, they must be identified and follow strict guidelines. Ask your freight forwarder for advice if you are not sure how to classify and properly label your freight.
  • Make sure your rate quotes include all costs to transport freight door-to-door.

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  • Photo Credit container image by John Sandoy from
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