Whether you’re shipping FCL or LCL, sending a shipment via ocean freight is an extremely complex involving many different processes and parties. Besides understanding the role of Incoterms, it’s equally as important to under the roles of all the players involved in international maritime shipping to understand their responsibilities.
Exporter: Also known as the seller or shipper, the exporter is the natural or legal individual that makes a sale to a foreign country.
Importer: Also known as the buyer, the importer is the natural or legal individual that purchases goods from a foreign country.
Freight forwarder: A freight forwarder plans, coordinates and monitors all necessary operations for the transport and international freight logistics, including auxiliary services and any kind of communication.
Customs agent: The customs agent is the natural or legal person authorized to perform, on behalf of others, the formalities of customs clearance of goods. This involves producing documents required, requesting inspections, paying of necessary duties and taxes, etc.
Shipping company: The shipping company is the legal owner of a vessel or vessels transporting goods to different ports, following particular routes or lines.
Shipping agent: The shipping agent is the natural person or legal representative of the shipping company at a given port. The shipping agent organizes the administrative tasks needed while the ship is at port. They also handle functional tasks related to the carrying of merchandise and related documents.
Consolidator: The consolidator is an intermediary who sells cubic meters of container space destined for a particular port and groups goods from various exporters to fill a full container. Any company that has a small volume to ship will usually hire the services of a consolidator.
Carrier: The carrier is responsible for transporting the container from a specified location to the destination port.
Insurance: Insurance companies offer shipping insurance coverages to cover any incidents that may occur during the transport of goods by charging a premium. A large number of items are secured to prevent loss.
Banks: Banks are responsible for the financial aspect of the international shipment. They offer a variety of products and solutions in the field of international business such as the letter of credit.
"The problem with these costs is that they’re often impossible to predict and are thus hardly ever considered when analyzing and comparing ocean freight rates"
Klaus Lydsal, vice president of operations at iContainers