19 Feb 2011

Forwarding in

The incoming or import forwarding process further explained

The receiving forwarder picks up the shipment documents at the handling agent.
This pick-up can be done by the forwarder himself, or can be outsourced to a local courier.

The forwarder prepares import documents (if necessary), performs customs clearance for import (electronically or manually) and awaits approval from customs.
  • If the forwarder is also a certified customs agent, he will perform the clearance himself (forwarding agent) ; if not he can outsource these activities to a certified customs agent.
  • A certified customs agent will always have a financial / credit arrangement with customs to cover eventual import duties and/or VAT due, often by means of a deposit at customs.
  • A  customs agent knows how to exactly classify the goods for import according to regulations ; this is done based on the packing list and (pro-forma) invoice, so the packages remain unopened.
  • Also a customs agent is trained and experienced in acquiring and applying special customs arrangements, licences and exemptions in order to lower or avoid import duties or to speed up the customs process where possible.
  •  Customs clearance is never the end-responsibility of the customs agent though, this responsibility remains at the principal and depends on the agreed delivery terms.

K+N office ; photo source: Kuehne + Nagel

At this stage customs can decide to release or hold the shipment for inspection, whereby the packages are opened, and can demand payment of import duties or even fines depending on the customs regulations and judging the type of information given by the customs agent against these regulations and the actual commodity of the goods to be imported

Drug detector dog ; photo source New Zealand Customs

After approval by customs (which must be proven to the handling agent, because the goods are stored under supervision of customs), the pick-up of the goods at the handling agent is ordered, and the goods are delivered at the forwarder’s warehouse
  • Again, depending on the internal organisation of the forwarder’s processes, this road transport can be executed either with in-house operated trucks, vans or personnel or by a third party

Panalpina warehouse barcode scanning ; photo source: Panalpina

The forwarder splits the shipments, makes them ready for transport again, and orders connecting transport to the consignee. 



Panalpina warehouse ; photo source: Panalpina

The goods are picked up by road transport for delivery at the consignee, where the air cargo process will finish
  • Again, depending on the transport agreement with the forwarder, this road transport can be organised by either the forwarder or the consignee.
  • And again, depending on the internal organisation of the forwarder’s or consignee’s processes, the road transport can be executed either with in-house operated trucks, vans or personnel or by a third party.

Process overview:

I invite all of you in the industry to contact me for corrections or additions, 
and who are new in the business to question me 
in order to improve the information on this site! 

go back to: Air transport        >>>
move on to the next process step: Consignment        >>>


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