International Movers vs. Freight Forwarders

If you are planning to make an international move, there will be a lot of new terms and concepts you need to learn. The term international movers may sound straightforward, but the moment you hear the term freight forwarders, things will start becoming confusing. What is the difference between an international mover and a freight forwarder? You’re going to want to know who you are paying and why, so it’s good to understand the differences between these types of companies. Here’s what you need to know about both of these concepts:

International movers vs. freight forwarders

Freight forwarders and international movers aren’t the same thing, there is a difference between both these concepts.

  • The international movers will normally manage all the aspects of an overseas move and will either deploy the ocean freight to the freight forwarders or manage the ocean freight by themselves.
  • The freight forwarders will be certified by the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) and will be allowed to manage ocean freight shipping. The main goal of the FMC is to regulate any international shipment that will leave or enter the United States.
  • Only a few freight forwarders will do household goods shipping. Instead, they will move any important documents like Doc Receipt, Bill of Lading, and Shipping details.
  • The freight forwards will generally deal with overseas shipping logistics, however, the international movers will manage any on-ground packing and shipping of personal items.
  • In many cases, the overseas movers can even perform the tasks of the freight forwarders along with the ground transport and vice versa.
  • The international movers will manage the shipment of household items only for private citizens. Only occasionally, they will do shipment for a business, however, they don’t manage exports, cargo, or supplies, which are done by the freight forwarders.
  • The freight forwarder will usually move cargo and supplies for companies. If an international moving company will hire a freight forwarder, it means that the items packed by you will act as cargo for the moving company and will be moved by a freight forwarder.

Can international movers and freight forwarders work toward the same project?

Often you may need to hire the service of both the movers and freight forwarders while planning an international relocation.

  • The overseas movers will manage the packing and loading of your shipment. Also, they will hire freight forwarders for shipping your goods to the new country.
  • The moving company will include the fee of the freight forwarders in your final moving bill.
  • The freight forwarders aren’t part of an overseas moving company, however, they are a third-party which is hired by the international movers.
  • In some rare cases, if you directly hire the freight forwarders, they may also hire an international moving company to manage the ground transportation processes. This is why the freight forwarders will provide you with an elevated price as this will cover the cost of hiring the international movers as well.

Contribution of the freight forwarders in an international move

  • Shipping cargo overseas.
  • Maintaining the ships, driving, and tracking them.
  • Obtaining permits and dealing with customs rules of the countries in which they will deliver the goods. Every country will have different customs rules, so it’s recommended to hire a freight forwarder that will have experience in the country you will ship the items.
  • Rarely do they perform any ground transportation services or domestic transportation services. Also, if they will do this they will need to hire international movers for the same.

Cost of international move

The cost of moving internationally will be different for different countries. For instance, a big moving company that relocates items in huge volumes will be less costly. Moreover, there will be buying power when it comes to sea freight.

The cost of hiring freight forwarders will be different from hiring international movers. It’s recommended you confirm with the moving companies what services will be included in their moving quote.

The freight forwarders will exclude some of the charges from their moving quote. However, the terminal and port charges at the destination country will be accurate. The port charges will include the shipment cost by the longshoreman. Also, it will cover the cost of equipment like cranes, if they have been used at all in the process.

The best way to determine the cost of an international move through freight forwarders will be by considering the following factors:

  • Size and weight of the items
  • Mode of transportation
  • Location
  • Distance of the move
  • Time of the move
  • Density

Tips to hire international movers

  • Look for recommendations from friends or family members before hiring an international moving company. This will ensure that the company has a good track record of providing positive experiences to its customers.
  • Shortlist a few international movers, check out their reviews and licenses, and research their background and history. Don’t forget to check whether the shortlisted moving company is insured or not.
  • Request the shortlisted moving company to conduct an in-house survey. This will help the movers understand your needs and requirements. If they refuse such surveys to save time, perhaps the company isn’t right for you.
  • Find out about the logistics of how your possessions will reach the new country. You need to check whether your belongings will be shipped or aired. If the moving company is right for you, they will be transparent with all this information.
  • Company the quotes provided by a few shortlisted moving companies. Of course, you don’t want to pay a hefty amount when you have more economical options available.
  • Maintain a record of the equipment used in the entire moving process to lift or move your possessions. This will ensure that none of your belongings are damaged during the process and reach the new country in good condition.

Tips to hire a freight forwarder

  • Search for a reliable freight forwarder for whom fulfillment plays a vital role. Also, the freight needs to be picked up and delivered timely and in good condition.
  • Look for forwarders who are well-versed with laws and protocols of safety, import, and export. Moreover, the company must have a standard operating procedure for its smooth functioning.
  • Find a freight forwarder that is punctual, proactive, flexible, and responsive.
  • Search for a carrier that can offer you prompt solutions in case of an unfortunate situation.
  • Check whether the company you will hire has a local presence in a destination where you will relocate.

Bottom line

Overall, both options are good for making an international move in their ways. If you hire an international moving company, perhaps they will enlist a third-party company to do some of your work. This will increase the total cost as well. However, if you find an international mover that won’t hire a third-party, then probably you are lucky.

A freight forwarder can be the best option for international shipping. However, if you will be relocating, it’s recommended to begin by hiring professional movers. You need to compare the moving quotes offered by a few shortlisted companies and opt for the best deal. The base price may be more for versatile companies, however, the marked-up contracting charges can be eliminated in the end.

You can directly hire the freight forwarders, however, don’t expect them to offer packing services for overseas shipping. Also, you need to be careful that they don’t enlist the service of a moving company to manage the ground transportation as this will increase the overall moving cost.

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