Friday, July 27, 2012

A Novices Guide to Freight Forwarding and Shipping Anything Overseas

10 Things to Consider When First Exporting
Shipping News Feature

UK - WORLDWIDE - Most readers of the Handy Shipping Guide are familiar with the general rules and regulations regarding freight forwarding and the procedures to be adopted when sending items abroad, whether they be personal effects, or that important first export order. For the less informed it is essential to understand the variety of procedures one must undergo and probably the best advice is to ensure you get a decent agent to care for your precious cargo. This month’s guest writer is Nisha Sharma representing Staffordshire based Premier International Movers and here are the company’s top ten points to follow:

1) Customs. Customs authorities can be a very hard on you if you unwittingly break the rules and an understanding of the necessary regulations are important when shipping your product. The last thing you need is trouble from the Customs department because you were not aware of laws against shipping Aunt Mary's beloved stuffed toad collection. Each country's laws are unique and what you consider legal in your country may be illegal in Bangladesh. You should also know once Customs seize an item you are unlikely to get it back.

2) Documentation. Full and proper documentation is required for all shipped items. Again, this varies from country to country and can turn into quite a headache if you do not produce the necessary paperwork in precisely the right format. 

3) Additional Costs. Each country's tax and duty fees vary therefore it is wise to research the cost of shipping before investing an outrageous amount of money on your stuffed toads. Some areas require additional fees besides taxes and duty. Be aware of the conditions of any quotations you receive, most quotes, including full CIF don’t cover Customs clearance charges and duty at the other end.

4) Shipping Options. After making a complete list of the items shipped and how they are packed, weights, measurements etc. it is time to choose the best method of delivery. Shipping can be by way of air, rail, vessel and/or road. Airfreight is the fastest delivery option however; it may also include the highest fees. Ocean container freight takes longer but provides the most affordable cost. Railway freight services are affordable and usually deliver in a timely manner but, as with the other methods, will almost certainly include an element of road haulage and only particular methods will be applicable to reach your chosen destination. 

5) Duration. As with anything, the transit times for your items depends on the destination and modes of transport. Chances are shipping an item to Kathmandu or the frozen Arctic within two days is not a viable option. A common misconception many individuals make occurs when paying for priority shipping. This does not mean your item will arrive by nod of the genies head, it means delivery will occur using the fastest means possible. Some locations on the globe can take up to two months duration and obviously air freight, whilst generally much faster, is usually infinitely more expensive.

6) Packaging. Your great Aunt Mary's stuffed toad collection will not even make it out of the station, airport or dock if you fail to follow proper packaging procedures. Each delivery service has specific package requirements. Failing to adhere to them will send you back to the start and fees are non-refundable. It is up to you to gain knowledge of packaging procedures so you can avoid paying twice the fee's on the same item. Although your home agent may take infinite care remember that insufficient packing may result in damage whilst being handled en route.

7) Insurance. The number one rule when shipping something priceless or of great value. There are no guarantees that Aunties taxidermically enhanced amphibians will make it in one piece. Insuring the item provides return of the value along with peace of mind.

8) Tracking. These days most companies can provide a tracking service as your freight moves along its journey. Always obtain a tracking number for items you are shipping. Then, if items become lost or stolen, an identification number will help you when seeking reimbursement.

9) Shipping Rates. Use the internet! You can access current rates for each country on-line. Knowing the current shipping rate helps to recognize over-inflated quotes.

10) Reputable Company. It’s worth saying again, get a good agent. Always research a company's credibility to ensure a legal shipping process. Web sites such as the Better Business Bureau provide a comprehensive database and checking the Handy Shipping Guide’s own freight directory (See above under Freight Essentials – UK Freight Forwarders or Overseas Agencies) means you can check a company’s accreditations. Generally membership of organisations like BIFA and the RHA or FTA means the company is an established operation.