The difference between a freight forwarder and a clearing agent

The freight forwarder and the clearing agent are two important roles in the process of shipping goods. Their roles are often confused, but it is important to understand that they are not the same. Read below to find out the difference between a freight forwarder and a clearing agent:

Freight forwarder

A freight forwarder is an agent with a global presence that handles the distribution of goods from one point to another. They take many precautions to ensure that the package is delivered according to the client’s specifications. Freight forwarders are required to negotiate the freight rates of the shipping company according to the requirements of their clients. The freight forwarders are also in charge of documents, contracts, monitoring the cargo, transportation – including the transportation from the client’s house to the distribution point – and so much more.

Clearing agent

Much like the freight forwarder, the clearing agent oversees numerous aspects of the process, such as the documentation, shipment compliance and extensive research on rates. However, clearing agents do not negotiate freight rates and they are not required to monitor the cargo. They are much more localised and do not have a global presence like freight forwarders. A clearing agents services are required by clients for every single shipment, so they are used more often than freight forwarders. Although you can use 3rd party clearing agents, it is not necessary as many distributors will have their own in-house clearing agents.