Freight Forwarder vs Shipping Agent – What’s The Difference?

Differences Between A Freight Forwarder and A Shipping Agent

freight forwarder vs shipping agent

Both freight forwarder and shipping agent deal with logistics in companies. However, the roles of a freight forwarder vary from those of a shipping agent.

How to differentiate a forwarding agent from a shipping services provider

If you are a forwarding expert, you will be handling some of the tasks meant for a shipping expert as should offer assistance in the transportation of cargo. However, you will find that the main difference between a shipping services provider and a forwarding agent is:

Types of services offered

Many people confuse the services offered by sea freight forwarders with those functions accomplished by the shipping-agent. But in an ideal situation, sea freight will perform and provide services over and above the shipping-agent’s services. One of the essential functions of a freight-forwarder is to oversee the entire cargo movement from the shipping service provider like LCL & FCL shipping provide up to the importer’s doorstep. On the other hand, the shipping-agent gets involved during cargo consolidation, and finally, he will be available during the deconsolidation process. Freight forwarder such as LCL & FCL shipping are heavily involved in cargo transportation services, while shipping-agents only specialize in one mode of transport to move your cargo from one point to the next. The duties of a forwarding agent include overseeing the success of the entire shipping process unlike for the shipping services provider whose roles and responsibilities are limited to their scope which includes cargo consolidation.

Mode of transport

You will find shipping experts specialize in one mode of transport while a forwarding agent can provide a wide range of transportation services. You will find that you will have more benefits when dealing with a forwarding agent as there is access to many freight shipping vehicles and storage facilities as compared to the shipping experts.

Value-added services

Freight-forwarders use their network within their service providers’ domain to provide all the necessary services that facilitate transportation of goods from one point to another. They are known to offer export and import services through sub-contracting other related companies. As a result, they create firm business ties with companies that own trucks, custom brokers, warehousing, and other necessities that shippers might require. This mode makes the processes, especially when working freight-forwarders, since much of the time is secured, which would track down valuable primary services from several clients. On the other hand, shipping-agents cannot offer the mentioned value-added services. Their crucial role gets primarily channelled to the relocation of containers in a ship. They may sometimes track cargo from one point to another, moving cargo from port to its desired destination. They do not offer services like documentation and customs clearance.


Ownership of vessels

Air Freight do not possess the ownership of vessels used for shipping or carriers. They operate by space sub-leasing for cargo carriage in a ship or containers. This process indicates that freight-forwarders work as an intermediary amongst professional shipping lines and business owners. Air freight may merge several shipments belonging to different clients into one container to reduce the shipping cost and other shipping services. Freight-forwarders that use air transport are also known to adopt the same model. Some of the significant forwarding organizations help their customers document the cargo requirements and the air freight customs clearance.When it comes to shipping-agents, they are known to own transportation modes, including trucks or ships. They transport cargo that gets consolidated to the destination where another organization picks it.

Warehouse space

Freight forwarding companies are known to have a set-aside place for cargo and goods consolidation. This location is sometimes known as Container Freight Station meant for container loading or unloading. Sometimes, it might be utilized in the import items preparation via ship to distribute and store export goods originating from different companies in one particular container. Shipping-agents typically lack a place designated like LCL & FCL shipping because they do not adopt the above model.



A shipping agency symbolizes the ship-owners in a given port of a particular country. It is responsible for managing costs, marketing, and operations within its domain of operational concepts. On the other hand, a shipping agency does not represent the cargo owners and its customers. A sea freight forwarding company collaborates with shippers and cargo owners to get the ideal service and excellent price and shipping service of any given cargo worldwide.

A freight-forwarder takes the initiative to contact key airlines, truckers not forgetting the cargo brokers, and consolidate a freight package. Sometimes, the shipping-agent and freight forwarder functions may converge and become similar to some extent based on a particular market.

They should know which organization or individual is responsible for transport mode, monitoring the shipping process and schedules, clearing process, and the complete documentation for either an exporter or importer. One needs to confirm that the shipments are compliant and seamless to their destination in an ideal condition. The entire process involves space for transportation, paperwork organization, and gathering together with the final delivery arrangement. Both shipping agent and freight forwarder should aid the exporters and exporters with routing and modes of transportation that are intelligent, cost-friendly, economical, and meet the set time frame for delivery.

A well-established freight-forwarder has experience in all transportation modes, cost-effective shipping solutions, storage arrangements, freight negotiation rates, cargo booking in the shipping line, shipping document processing, and border cargo movement knowledge. On the other hand, the shipping agent should be fully accredited, pass relevant documents, and assist the customer with drawbacks. When it comes to comparing a shipping agent and a freight-forwarder, the shipping-agent is more specific to its country, simply because they have connections with l customs authorities. Freight-forwarders have an excellent presence globally since it gets represented in several companies.

If you have been looking for a company that can provide you with quality freight forwarding and shipping services, Star Concord Freight & Shipping agent offers you a unique experience while meeting your needs.

Guide To Shipping & Freight Services

What Is A Freight Forwarder

Difference between freight forwarder and shipping agent

Individuals and other business premises organize their goods shipments through an organization by the name freight-forwarder. In some instances, a freight forward plays a freight carrier, or else they might opt to look for another option, for example, a third-party carrier. Freight-forwarders act as the medium between the carriers and the people who are shipping the goods. They can provide specific insights and assist the customers throughout the process, eliminating any issues that may arise from logistics. Freight-forwarders sometimes have additional offers to the customers, including paperwork assistance, packing, insurance coverage, and other services like custom clearing for shipping, especially in cross-border shipping.

What Is A Shipping Agent

An organization or an individual that takes the role of transporting and handling goods is known as the shipping-agent. It also takes the responsibility of defending the best interest of the customers. During the customer’s shipment process, the agent takes the responsibility of overseeing several critical tasks, including crew transfers, clearing customs, cargo transportation dispatch, and waste declarations. In other words, every freight-forwarder is a shipping-agent simply because they offer support services that complement cargo transportation from point to point. However, not all shipping-agents freight-forwarders since they vary in the operational concepts, especially when supervising the transportation process from point-to-point. On top of that, freight-forwarders are more prominent in size and have greater resource access than individual ordinarily shipping-agents.

Both freight forwarder and shipping agent deal with logistics in companies. However, the roles of a freight forwarder vary from those of a shipping agent. One of the best ways of differentiating a freight forwarder and a shipping agent is by defining the roles and responsibilities of each one of them.

Roles and responsibilities of a freight forwarding services provider

A freight forwarder Singapore agent mainly acts as the link between transport service providers and the owner of goods to be shipped. If you are a forwarding agent, your duties will vary based on the logistics company you work for. Below are the main functions of freight forwarding services providers.

  • Providing documentation and clearance services

A forwarding expert has to prepare all the required documentation for the exportation and importation of goods. They make sure that the owner of goods being transported has complied with the legal requirements.

  • Organizing for distribution, packaging, and warehousing of cargo

The forwarding agent is in charge of goods storage before they are exported or imported. With the best forwarding expert, you will be provided with the best cargo storage services before or after arrival while awaiting clearance.

  • Booking cargo freight space

One of the most significant roles of a forwarding agent is to ensure clients get cargo space mainly on airplanes or other modes of transport. You will find that forwarders focus on networking with transport service providers mainly air freight and sea freight to enable clients to import and export goods effectively.

  • Providing advisory services

Forwarding agents will provide you with information about the most reliable means of shipping your goods. Clients get assisted by forwarding experts to get affordable carriage by negotiating the costs involved in shipping cargo.

Roles and responsibilities of a shipping services provider

The main duties of a shipping expert include:

  • A shipping services provider works in the best interest of the customers by handling and organizing the transportation of cargo.
  • A shipping assistant recommends to clients the best means of transport mainly air and sea for cargo shipments. Based on the type and condition of goods you want to be shipped, you will need the help of a shipping services provider.
  • Tracking cargo movement

A shipping expert is in charge of monitoring the movement of cargo as they update the goods’ owners. Being a shipping services provider requires you to be well versed with the right routes and directions that different means of transport should take when delivering goods to customers.

  • Ensuring safe arrival of shipments

A shipping services provider closely follows up shipping matters until the cargo is safely delivered to the right clients. You should be provided with an invoice for your cargo upon arrival by a shipping expert.


Types of freight services

Sea freight

This is a category of freight shipping where goods are transported using ships and ferries. If you are on a tight budget, then this is the most affordable means of transporting cargo internationally. However, your cargo might take time to get to the destination as sea freight is slow. The LCL & FCL shipping comes into play.

You will find ocean freight shipments known as LCL consolidation services whereby cargo owners have to share with others the available container space. On the other hand, FCL shipping applies to the type of shipping where all goods loaded in a container belonging to one person. You can choose either LCL & FCL shipping based on the category of cargo you want to ship. A forwarding agent would be the right person to give more information about LCL & FCL shipping.


Air freight

air freight forwarder

This is the transportation of cargo using aircraft. It is the fastest way to transport goods thus being effective for those who want their cargo to reach their destination on time. However, air freight shipping is quite costly.


Rail freight service

rail freight

This type of freight service is used to transport bulky and dangerous materials. You will find this means of cargo transportation mode to be very pocket-friendly and efficient.


Types of shipping services

The shipping service providers offer different services to meet their customers’ needs. These are two main categories of shipping services which include:

  • Linear service

This applies to the types of ships that use only specified routes and schedules. It is a cost-effective way to transport small volumes of goods.

  • Tramp service

These are the types of ships used to transport large volumes of goods. It has no fixed schedule or regular routes.


Frequently asked questions

Question: What makes a good forwarding agent or a shipping expert?

Answer: You check the level of proficiency they have in their field and willingness to meet your needs.


Question: Which is the easiest way to differentiate between a forwarding agent and a shipping services provider?

Answer: You check the transport services they provide. A forwarding agent provides one mode of transportation while with shipping experts you will get intermodal transport means.


Question: How can I find more customers for my freight forwarding and shipping company?

Answer: Ask your loyal customers to refer other potential clients to your company. If you have a good reputation, you will get many new customers through recommendations.