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.