What are some of the freight forwarding services you didn't know you needed?

It’s a big job

Your international freight forwarder should offer an array of freight services, ranging from packing and crating, trucking, warehousing, storage, distribution, customs clearance, or air & ocean services.

However, there are times when even more services are needed. For example, right now we’re working with a shipper using their own containers, and it’s opening up a whole new level of challenges that we can help with.

When using your own containers, you may need us to assist with the preparation & presentation of a letter of credit, making sure that every detail is reflected on all shipping documents, meeting fulfillment requirements & keeping up with all the stipulations of your negotiable documents (L/C).  

This particular shipper is exporting helicopter tools into 3 Shipper-Owned Containers (SOC) from Northern California via Oakland port to Shanghai, China, and they are under a strict deadline.

Our shipping duties consisted of pricing, organizing, and purchasing the SOCs, lifting them off the ground onto the truck chassis, booking with the steam line, handling the export declaration, bill of lading, drayage to the port from the loading site, cargo insurance, and shipping under the fastest transit time possible.

In the end, the billing for our services took place in China, which, from the outside, looks like freight collect, however, the funds were wired at departure, so we had the bill of lading reads prepaid (CIF) (cost of freight + insurance). Learn more about this incoterm in our pre-recorded webinar.

For the shippers out there experiencing an increase volume in their exports from anywhere inland in the USA to any world destination, we are summarizing each phase to illustrate services that you might find yourself seeking.


At first, our shipper requested pricing using regular leased containers, delivered on a truck-chassis, to a remote Chinese port, which is farther than the one we finally executed.

It is not uncommon over the course of quoting for a job, to see changes take place between the buyer and the seller, which is a good reason to have shipping experts by your side help you sort through them.

We ended up going from 2-leased containers to 3 SOCs on the ground with a maximum transit time of 23 days from departure port to destination port, and with less than one week to organize the booking.

Freight Coordination

Our coordination consisted in locating a crane near the loading site & having 2 containers show up before 8 AM & 1 container after 9 AM. To get there on-time, we had to retrieve the containers a day prior to the delivery date & hold them overnight at the trucking terminal.

Meanwhile, all the documentation & contract were sent to the shipper for their review & final approval before dispatching our export declaration to customs along with the bill of lading. Ultimately, shippers alone are responsible to know if their shipment requires a special state license or can be shipped under a general license.

The unexpected twist

In the 11th hour, the crane canceled on us. So, we tracked down 2 onsite forklifts in about 20 minutes. They positioned themselves on each side of the container, and simultaneously lifted while the truck-driver was able to backup underneath the elevated containers before placing them softly on the chassis.

This exercise happened 3 times.

Back at the departure port

Returning a container to the port does not mean your shipment is home free. Any number of things could happen, such as a random customs inspection, which could be a simple X-ray or an intensive exam with the container being dispatched to a nearby exam site for unloading, exam, reloading into the container before a re-dispatch out. The latter is costly & create delays with the expected sailing schedule.

Customs exams are random & far in between, although, probably more than you or I would like to see.

The cargo insurance is issued early to have coverage from the departure point to the destination port. For high value shipments, ETC goes out of their way to negotiate the best rates. As a licensed forwarder, we issue the certificate of insurance on behalf of the insurer.

Oakland Terminal

Terminal at the port handles the giant crane to place the containers on the ship. As a side note, the captain of the ship receives his manifest and know the number of containers, weight, so on & so forth to decide on the containers location inside the ship reaching an optimal balance. In this order, once on the water, the shipper and the consignee receive a departure confirmation, billing & a tracking site that requires the container number to locate your container(s).


It is always important, and it is especially difficult with companies closing their fiscal year, to deal with the influx of last minutes shipments. Show mercy to your forwarders that cannot be at the helm of the ship, but, work quickly to get of the missing pieces into place.

Happy Holidays Friends!

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