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8 Questions You Should Ask International Shipping Companies

Questions for Your International Shipping Company

If you are planning to work with an international shipping company or freight forwarder, either to move household goods for a personal move, or if you are planning to ship a vehicle or sell it overseas, your lack of information on the logistics of both scenarios will probably leave you feeling a bit overwhelmed.

While there is a lot of the information available online, you may wind up with further concerns to which you cannot find an answer.

When you get to the point where you are ready to commit to using a particular freight company, you should put together a list of questions to ask—that way you can feel even more confident about the job at hand.

Before you start making calls, use these questions as a potential starting point for your selection process to weed out the rookies from the professionals. You can also view our in depth guide to choosing a shipping company.

Here are the 8 questions you should ask your shipping company:

  1. Is the company fully licensed, insured and bonded? This is probably the most important question to ask and any freight forwarder that either doesn’t display their licensing information or offer it, is most likely not legitimate and not someone you want to work with.
  2. Can the quoted rate change?  Many times a shipping company will send a quote that is valid for 30 days. Your move date may be further down the line than that. The company may be unable to provide an exact rate until after the job is complete. It is important that you understand how much “wiggle room” there is in the quote so that you will not be surprised.
  3. Are there any additional fees? Some freight forwarding companies quotes are broken down into separate cost sections and may have “hidden” fees. Find out the total of any extra moving fees you will pay ahead of time so you can better budget for the whole move without surprises.
  4. What form of payment do you accept? This is especially important if you are working with someone overseas. What currency can you pay in? And are there bank or credit card charges payable?
  5. What else can I ship via the freight service I choose? – whether it is air freight or ocean freight shipping? Some companies will allow you to ship certain items, but not others. Sometimes the requirements are put in place because of laws in the country of destination. It is important you understand what you can and cannot ship, so learn about the customs of the destination country.
  6. Who will be handling your freight?  Will the moving service provider you contract handle the shipment from drop off until destination? It may be that the company works with other companies to handle some of the process. If this is the case, you may want to know this ahead of time.
  7. How long will the shipping process take? It may not be possible for the company to give you an exact handling and shipping time frame, but it is nice to have a good idea of how long it will take. This will all depend on the origin port, the destination country and city and the frequency of the shipments to that destination. Discuss this in great detail with your international shipping expert who will advise you so you can prepare for the packing at origin and the unpack at the other end.
  8. Is marine insurance included? Will you need to purchase additional insurance to make certain you are protected in the case of damage or loss, or is this already included? If you are shipping anything of value, this is especially important. You should itemize all expensive items and precious belongings so they are listed on the insurance policy separately.

These are just a few of the questions you may want answers to, before you sign a contract for your international shipping service.

Do not be afraid to ask these questions and any others you may have, before you commit to a particular shipping company.

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Schumacher Cargo Logistics utilizes insured, secured and bonded facilities. We provide warehousing, packing, crating, trucking and loading services out of our own warehouses here in the USA - Los Angeles, Houston, Savannah, Miami, New York, and New Jersey. All other worldwide destinations are covered by our affiliated organization member companies.