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A freight forwarder is an agent who acts on behalf of importers, exporters or other companies or persons to organize the safe, efficient and cost-effective transportation of goods.
Freight forwarders arrange the best means of transport, taking into account the type of goods and the customers' delivery requirements. They use the services of shipping lines, airlines and road and rail freight operators. In some cases, the freight forwarding company itself provides the service.
Companies vary in size and type, from those operating on a national and international basis to smaller, more special firms, who deal with particular types of goods or operate within particular geographical areas.
• Obtaining, checking and preparing documentation to meet customs and insurance requirements, packing specifications, and compliance with overseas countries' regulations and fiscal regimes;
• Offering consolidation services by air, sea and road, ensuring cost-effective and secure solutions to small shippers who have insufficient cargo to require their own dedicated units;
• Liaising with third parties to move goods (by road, rail, air or sea) in accordance with customer requirements;
• Investigating and planning the most appropriate route for a shipment, taking account of the perishable or hazardous nature of the goods, cost, transit time and security;
• Acting as a consultant in customs matters;
• Maintaining current knowledge of relevant legislation, political situations and other factors that could affect the movement of freight.
Previous experience in office administration or transport would helpful. You will also need good computer skills, and the ability to speak a foreign language could be useful if the company operates in Europe or further afield.
You may be able to get into this job through an apprenticeship scheme. The range of apprenticeships available in your area will depend on the local jobs market and the types of skills employers need from their workers.