What’s the Difference between a Freight Forwarder and a Customs Broker?

Many business owners tend to have a hard time making distinctions between a freight forwarder and a customs broker that they think they are two names for one profession. Both have similarities to one another but have different roles to play in freight and shipping.

A freight forwarder is either an agent or a company who arranges the travel of a particular cargo from the origin to the destination in a set time frame. Freight forwarders are a third-party entity who handle the movements of the shipment.

Customs brokers are private individuals or firms that act as guides for importers and exporters to ensure that they meet the requirements necessary. They handle all the essential documents needed to make particular shipments to other countries legal.

Both professions are involved in the shipping process and ensure that the cargo gets to its intended destination on-time. Since the term “freight forwarders” is a broader term compared to the specialized “customs brokers” a freight forwarder can function as a customs broker. Not every custom broker, however, can function as a freight forwarder.

Both freight forwarders and customs brokers are essential to the shipping process and having them both assures the business owner that the cargo will get to its intended destination safely.

For more information regarding the difference between freight forwarders and customs brokers, see this infographic by Excelsior.

customs broker

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