Clearing and forwarding agents (C&F agents) are multitasking experts. They are responsible for collecting the bill of lading, bill of entry, buying order, certificate of origin, sales invoice, and others. This entity (either a company or an individual) is also capable of arranging the transportation of goods. A clearing and forwarding agent efficiently manages the smooth and timely shipment of goods from one destination to another.
Before the receiver hauls the cargo, the country of origin must clear it. Customs brokers usually arrange/take care of this by establishing an agreement between the consignee and the shipper. If not, then a third-party customs broker service is required to settle the issue.
Did you know? You may ensure smooth business operations and on-time delivery by choosing the best C&F agency without actually being engaged in the clearing and forwarding processes. It will also determine whether your participation in the C&F procedure is necessary.
Role Of Clearing And Forwarding Agents
The responsibilities shouldered by C&F agents are mentioned below:
- The main duty of a customs clearing and forwarding agent is to obtain the custom clearance after submitting the shipping bill.
- They are responsible for the movement of the cargo.
- The clearing forwarding agent is also required to arrange for a warehouse at the port.
- To reserve shipping space/air freight.
- Should know the usage of shipment data entry software.
- They must also submit data reports on clearance and delivery to the supervisors or consignee.
- Arrange equipment and labour for loading and unloading of goods.
- Forward papers of banking collection.
- Work in accordance with marine coverage policies.
- They must draft and submit the documents needed for customs clearance to the authorities.
- Process delivery documents, payments, dock receipts, export declarations, and others.
Other Functions Of C&F Agents
C&F agents must be efficient in the knowledge of local laws and customs formalities. Following are the other functions performed by them:
- Cargo insurance
- Close coordination with agencies
- Container arrangement
- Marketing and labelling
- Reservation of shipping space
- Selecting the appropriate mode of transport
Advantages Of Hiring A Custom Clearing Forwarding Agent
Starting from paperwork, bookings, and arranging payments for different shipment sectors, a C and F agent performs several services like:
- They perform both clearing and forwarding duties.
- They work on behalf of other parties involved in shipments and cargo carriers.
- They can anticipate problems and are ready with a solution in case a problem arises.
Importance Of Choosing The Right C&F Agent
Selecting an experienced and efficient C&F agent for your export company is necessary. It ascertains smooth running of the business, timely deliveries, and customer satisfaction. Also, you will be able to concentrate on the core activities of the business. An efficient C&F agent is an expert at getting the goods through custom clearance, coordinating with the transport carrier, and managing safe and timely shipping and delivery of the cargo.
Since C&F agents can avail of the broad network of logistics providers, they can rely on different modes of transportation like road, rail, sea, and air. They also possess a healthy working relationship with transport companies, services at the port, international shipping lines, marine insurance brokers, customs agents, and others worldwide. So they can perform at their best throughout.
These agents are not like staff but more like business partners because they shoulder very important and difficult responsibilities on your behalf and for your business to function smoothly. An efficient C&F agent will understand your requirements and serve accordingly.
How to Choose a Freight Clearing Agent?
You must consider certain points before hiring a C and F agent.
- Be very clear about the requirements of the company.
- The specific services you expect from a C&F agent.
- Decide on the mode of transport you wish to adopt for your shipments.
- Estimate the expected volume of your shipments.
- Select the terms you plan to ship on.
- Any specialised support you require from your agent.
- The most important criteria while selecting a C&F agent is experience. Make sure that they have the right knowledge regarding laws and regulations and deal with different types of cargo both at the origin and the destination points of the shipment.
- You must choose a digitally equipped freight forwarder.
- Insist on a transparent pricing structure.
- Ensure that they offer cargo insurance.
- Make certain that they offer the right services for your shipment needs.
- Consider freight forwarders who have access to a good network in your destination country, as they will have complete knowledge of situations like customs issues, port strikes, etc. It will result in a hassle-free shipment most of the time.
Selecting the right agent will be very fruitful in managing smooth cargo shipping. So, research well and pick the best freight forwarder.
Process of Freight Forwarding
The process of freight forwarding is discussed below:
Stage 1 – Export Haulage
Moving the cargo from the shipper’s location to the warehouse is known as export haulage. This is mostly managed via road or rail. The time taken depends on the distance and the size of the shipment. Depending on the cargo, it may take some hours or some weeks to reach the checkpoint.
Stage 2 – Items Checkpoint
After the export of goods, freight forwarders check the cargo to ensure that it is damage-free.
Stage 3 – Export Customs Clearance
The cargo requires export customs clearance from the country of origin before being shipped. The customs broker submits details about the cargo and other necessary supporting documents. Usually, an agreement is made between the consignee and the shipper.
Stage 4 – Import Customs Clearance
Authorities of the destination country check the import customs documents to release the goods.
Stage 5 – Destination Arrival and Handling
Once the cargo reaches the destination, the freight forwarders receive documents related to the cargo, including carrier bills and outstanding documentation.
Stage 6 – Import Haulage
Like the initial export to the destination, the cargo is removed from the warehouse and sent to its final destination under import haulage.
Also read: List Of India's Top Exported Products
We hope this article has been of help in providing information about C&F agents. To deal with the complexities of the export sector, it is a necessity for the exporter to appoint C and F agents who are specialists in the field. They get the customs clearance, arrange goods shipments, and manage smooth cargo transactions.
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