Freight brokerage is the art of bringing together people who are looking to transport goods and the individuals or companies who can provide that service. The third-party logistics industry has exploded in the last ten years to become a $162 billion industry. With so many freight brokers available, how can you be sure you'll find one that is reliable, trustworthy and responsible? Start your research here by filling in our form below to receive up to 5 free quotes instantly!
A freight broker is distinctly different from a freight forwarder; the main discrepancy being that forwarders will actually take possession of the goods to be shipped and assume responsibility for them. This is necessary in order to consolidate smaller consignments into one large container or several containers. The two do share similar functions though; for example, arranging the best transportation methods for their clients. They also both play the role of a negotiator during Customs procedures and administer the necessary paperwork. Neither of them are shippers or carriers.
There are other forms of brokerage services to be aware of, such as customs brokerage. These brokers are experts in helping clients clear Customs quickly and without errors. They concentrate on the import side of the business; freight forwarders, on the other hand, play more in the export arena. Another kind of freight brokerage is agricultural truck brokerage. This unregulated industry is fairly small and localized since they move exempt agricultural products via motor carriers. A motor carrier is one who provides truck or van transportation. There are two varieties: either private carriers who move their own cargo, or for-hire carriers who receive a fee for moving other people's or company's goods.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCA) can grant licenses to brokers in the United States of America. You can look in their database to investigate a broker's safety and security history. It's also a good idea to run a credit report on someone in the freight brokerage industry, to be sure they have a clean financial record. Although it's not required, there are three different types of insurance a broker can possess: liability, errors & omissions and contingent cargo (the latter offers protection in case a carrier does not deliver the goods as expected).
During your investigation of the freight brokerage trade, it's advisable for you to learn about the various associations your broker can join. The Customs Brokers & Forwarders Council of Australia (CBFCA) and the Transportation Intermediaries Association (TIA) each act as the voice of third-party intermediaries and can offer them valuable advice, information and networking opportunities.
In order to increase their knowledge, technical scope or services offered, freight brokers can team up with independent contractors/agents who will specialize in a certain subset of the freight industry or smaller geographic region. Training and certification courses are also a good way to excel and advance to the upper echelons of the freight brokerage industry. One highly ranked academy is the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) which specializes in education, training, conferences, seminars, events, journals and bespoke training materials for freight brokers, ship managers and agents around the world. Exams to gain qualifications are held in April worldwide.