Selecting an International Broker
Most carriers provide brokerage services for a fee. Consider selecting your own broker for international shipments for inbound or outbound shipments, or both. The disadvantage of using your carrier as a broker is that they do not provide ‘personalised’ service. Their primary service is to pickup, move, and deliver packages, not to clear packages through customs. The advantage of selecting an in-house broker is they learn your business, your products and will help reduce the cost of imports and exports and international shipping as a whole. They will charge for their services, but you most likely will get more personalized service. By developing a more intensive partnership with your own selected broker, they have a vested interest in reducing your costs.
Bill of Lading Tips – International Shipping
Properly completing the shipper Bill of Lading will eliminate many potential problems and ensure that your shipment arrives at the consignee intact, on time and with the correct freight charges. Do you know the actual weight of your shipment? If you do not mark a weight on the Bill of Lading, then the carrier may be forced to guess the weight and they are most likely to guess high. Is a physical delivery address with the zip code on the Bill of Lading? Carriers cannot deliver to a post office box or rural route and this may delay delivery of your shipment if the destination terminal must first contact the consignee for a delivery address. Utilizing the proper description or the National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC) item number you will ensure that the correct rate is applied to your shipment.
The Carrier’s Weight & Inspection Program – International Shipping
Many carriers place trained traffic personnel in their breakbulks/transfer terminals to look for shipments that have inaccurate weight or improper descriptions. The program, known as Weight & Inspection (W&I), can earn some carriers as much as $3-4 million of additional revenue from companies that do not adhere to the proper weight and description rules and are fined and charged additional costs. Therefore many carriers are very aggressive in this program and often use electronic scales on their forklifts to reweigh shipments. One way that W&I personnel spot inaccurate weights are with shipments that are rounded to exactly a hundred pounds, such as 500 pounds. Very few shipments weigh exactly 500 pounds, for example, and this is a red flag to the W&I people. When a shipment is reweighed and the charges are revised a weight certificate is produced. This certificate should be available for your review. In addition, a carrier may open your cartons to inspect the contents and determine if the proper description was used to rate and classify the shipment.