The success of international shipping depends on more than just your company and your carrier. Certainly, your practices and your carrier’s performance are important components of the process, but they do not form the entire picture. Other components include coordinating multiple parties over expansive distances, regulatory restrictions, and customs requirements. Shipping goods from one country to another demands a team of capable players, all with a specific part to play in the procedure.
While finding the best service providers to perform each task is important, eliminating the errors during the handoff between each of these different parties is a crucial element in your shipping success.
The key participants in a sound international shipping plan include:
· The Customer/ Importer or Exporter of Record
Beyond providing the goods for transport, it is incumbent upon the customer/importer or exporter of record to understand the compliance and regulations of importing and exporting. Since they have so much at stake in the process, it is always a good idea for the customer/importer or exporter of record to track the delivery from beginning to end to make sure that any issues that arise are dealt with immediately.
· The carrier
As with any shipment, a dependable ocean carrier is required for a successful international shipment. Any number of things can go wrong when freight enters transit, especially on the international scale, so using a well-reputed carrier with a great track-record is always important.
· Freight Forwarder
Freight forwarders oversee international shipments, providing strategic input on how to optimize the process. However, few freight forwarders have the attention to detail, the understanding of urgency, or the systems capacity to handle all facets of international shipping, which is why it is good to form relationships with several companies that possess various strengths. Usually a forwarder is a leader in one or two key trade lanes, but not all trade lanes.
· Customs broker
Using a customs broker to provide advice on compliance and regulations can prevent a lot of headaches for the customer/importer or exporter of record. Having access to one or two highly-skilled customs brokers who know the ins and outs of international trade simplifies overseas shipments. As regulatory compliance continues to get more cumbersome and complex, we suggest sticking with one customs broker per country that is very familiar with your freight and current regulations. The rule of thumb we find most beneficial to follow, “Marry your broker, date your forwarder”.
· Drayage companies
These companies bring shipments to and from ports, delivering freight to carriers, or taking it from carriers and delivering it to distribution centers. Drayage companies may not be a part of every single shipment, but any company can benefit by forming a relationship with a handful of reliable drayage partners.
International shipping is a tremendous challenge for any business attempting to handle the process on its own. Finding the right partners and keeping the lines of communication open are the cornerstones of a successful plan, one that reduces risk and promotes efficient delivery.