FAQ

What is a freight forwarder?

A freight forwarder is a type of company that specializes in arranging the transportation of goods. A freight forwarder can be hired by either the buyer or the seller in an international transaction, and they may provide additional services such as packaging, document preparation, and customs clearance.

What is a carrier?

A carrier is a company or party that moves the goods in an international transaction. An inland carrier will move the goods from your warehouse to the port of export. From there, an air carrier would transport goods on an airplane, an ocean carrier would transport goods on a ship, a rail carrier would transport goods on a railroad, or a truck carrier would transport goods on a truck.

What is a customs broker?

Customs brokers are private individuals, partnerships, associations or corporations licensed, regulated and empowered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assist importers and exporters in meeting federal requirements governing imports and exports.

What is a power of attorney?

A power of attorney (POA), also called a letter of attorney, is a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf. The person authorizing the other to act is called the principal, grantor or donor (of power). The one authorized to act is called the agent.

What is a packing list?

The packing list may be used by the freight forwarder to prepare a bill of lading for the ocean or air carrier and to understand how much room is needed for the cargo. It may be used by banks as a supporting document presented for payment under a letter of credit or other payment terms. It may be used by U.S. Customs as well as by customs in the country of import for compliance and duty liability.

In addition to including the basic details about the international transaction, the packing list will include:

  • The name and contact information of the exporter and ultimate consignee.
  • Details of which items appear in each of the packing containers.
  • Weight and measurements of each packing container.
  • Any marks and numbers including a container number and seal number if appropriate.
  • The total number of pieces and weight and measures of the entire shipment.
  • Any special instructions or additional information that is important for the shipment.

What is a bill of lading?

A bill of lading (BOL) is a document issued by a carrier or the carrier’s agent that acknowledges receipt of cargo for shipment. It serves as a contract between the owner of the goods and the carrier stating what goods you’re shipping, where the shipment is coming from, and where it’s headed. A bill of lading (or a waybill) may also serve as a document of title that allows the person holding it to claim possession of your shipment.


What is customs, and what is its role in international trade?

Customs refers to the official department that administers and collects duties levied by a government on imported goods. Exports from the U.S. are monitored by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The customs agency of the country of import is responsible for enforcement of import laws and the collection of duties and taxes.

What is an ocean bill of lading?

The ocean bill of lading serves as both a contract for carriage and a document of title for the cargo. The bill of lading identifies the parties on both ends of the shipment, as well as a description of the goods and routing instructions.

An ocean bill of lading should include:

  • The name and contact information for the exporter, the ultimate consignee, forwarding agent, and the notify parties.
  • Vessel, booking and loading instructions for the international carriage of the goods.
  • A description of the goods including their weight and dimensions, the number and kinds of packages, any marks and numbers on those packages, and whether any of the goods are hazardous.
  • Freight rates and charges.

    What is a dock receipt?

    A dock receipt is a document designed to provide the exporter with proof of delivery of the cargo to the international carrier in good condition. It is often prepared by the exporter or freight forwarder and is signed by the warehouse worker or agent of the carrier upon receipt of the goods. Once the goods are delivered and signed for, the inland carrier provides the dock receipt to the freight forwarder as evidence it has successfully completed delivery of the goods. This is important in case the goods are lost or damaged after delivery to the dock and before arriving at their international destination.

    A dock receipt should include:

    • The name and contact information for the exporter, the ultimate consignee, forwarding agent, and the notify parties.
    • The place, date and time of the inland delivery of the goods.
    • Vessel, booking and loading instructions for the international carriage of the goods.
    • A description of the goods including their weights and dimensions, the number and kinds of packages, any marks and numbers on those packages, and whether any of the goods are hazardous.
    • Any special instructions for the shipment.

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