You would like to transport your goods and you wonder who to assign the task to? Very often, during the first encounter with the sector you may have some doubts as to what differentiates work and duties of a forwarder from those of a carrier. Before ordering transport of your goods from either one of the parties it is worthwhile to make sure what exactly they can offer us. Here is a short but detailed summary for you.

Forwarder as a supervisor

The most important aspects of a forwarder’s work are meticulousness and great precision as they are the ones planning the whole transport. A forwarder is responsible for obtaining as much information as possible and completing all necessary formalities. They organize loading and unloading of goods, execute contracts concluded with carriers and control their work. For the whole transport process to go as planned a forwarder must choose the most suitable carrier to perform the order with, preferably some reliable company they have already worked with. A forwarder is familiar with qualifications of such companies, the size and technical condition of their fleet as well as the insurance held.

To guarantee that everything goes according to plan, a forwarder provides a carrier with any and all details concerning the goods: information on loading and unloading and transport-related notes from a client. Knowledge of exact dimensions, type and value of the goods, time of notification and requirements related to security measures and fleet enable to find a vehicle suitable to the transported cargo much faster. These aspects are of key importance to a forwarder who, in case any damage occurs, may be subjected to court proceedings by the client and suffer punitive or financial consequences.

Carrier as a contractor

Carrier – as the name suggests – is mainly responsible for carriage of goods. They determine the routes for drivers and control their working time. A good carrier should make sure goods are properly secured (depending on the received instructions) throughout the whole transport process (also when parked). A carrier should also see to it that cargo reaches its destination on time, which is not easy as all complications consisting in unforeseen roadworks, fortuitous events or thieves lurking on valuable goods take place during the carriage itself.

Differences, dangers and risk: what should be given particular attention?

A forwarder is responsible for the organization of goods’ delivery from points A to B, whereas a carrier is responsible for their carriage. Nevertheless, you should pay attention to the kind of contract you are concluding – forwarding contract or carriage contract – as the contract determines a legal relationship and a party – carrier or forwarder – responsible for covering damage-related costs. Acquisition of insurance that covers losses in case a forwarder appears in a waybill as the “contracting carrier” protects against such situations.

Also, make sure to use the services of a reliable forwarder. A trusted forwarder is a guarantee that a carrier they work with is trustworthy as well. Do not risk handing over your goods to a shady company, which refuses to present its license or insurance: it usually ends with the company providing a wrong vehicle, attempting to cancel the order a few hours before loading or, in extreme cases, even stealing cargo.

Forwarder > carrier

A forwarder supervises all aspects and each stage of carriage, even after handing over the goods to a carrier. It is a forwarder who must contact the client in times of crisis – such as delays or accidents – and solve problems upon loading and unloading. Additionally, a forwarder contacts carriers and their drivers and provides subcontractors with cargo for the way back. The conclusion is very simple: even if the situation on the road depends on a carrier, the fate of the whole complex undertaking, i.e. the carriage, rests on the shoulders of a forwarder. Remember this before handing your goods over to any company.