International freight - less is more and here's why

Putting the right foot forward :

Not all shipments are large & cumbersome, but whether air or ocean ALL shipping will need the right information to start with. You’ll also need to pick the right services to fit your specific needs, because even though many are competing for your business, there are a LOT of different answers out there, and choosing the right one could make or break you.



What distinguishes one international shipping company from another?

There are a couple of different schools of thought on this subject. You could go with a conglomerate freight forwarding company that employs thousands, with one narrow goal in mind: the cheapest initial rate possible. The upside, is… well, cheap freight quotes. The downside is that most of the people touching your account will know very little about you, and because of this, those initial quotes often end up costing more.

Sometimes less is more! I like shopping in a small outdoor fresh market for my organic local produce. Costs are competitive to the supermarkets, but I find the food to be fresher and tastier, the money goes to local businesses, and those helping me decide what to buy actually know about their products, which are healthier and unprocessed. I’m also placing value in the produce itself over being able to buy a mop or stuffed animal.

Most I have talked to about this agree that the produce is better at an outdoor fresh market (farmer’s market), but convenience plays its role as well. Fortunately for international shipping, email and calls work just as fast for the farmer’s market version of shipping as the mega-chain retailers.

This is how I also view working with freight forwarders. Regardless of whether you go big or small here, The is an immediate question should be asked:

Are you licensed and bonded?

When dealing with your international freight forwarders, whichever forwarders’ profiles you work with, shippers must work with a Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) & International Air Transportation Agency (IATA) licensed & TSA approved forwarder. Your forwarder should be bonded carrying Error & Omission, General Liability & providing cargo insurance.

If you decide to work with a non-license or bonded freight company because you want the cheapest rate quoted to you, it can result in lack of liability coverage with little to no recourse if you run into any snags.

Getting properly quoted whether shipping via air, ocean import or export

Make sure your forwarder has all of the following information: 

  • Exact shipper name city or port / airport of origin
  • Exact consignee city port / airport of destination
  • Description / Commodity name
  • Unit price
  • Harmonized system number (HS Code #) per item
  • Weights & dimensions per item
  • Freight prepaid, freight collect via air or ocean, cargo insurance or no insurance. Overseas up to airport or port or delivery duty unpaid, etc.
  • Does your buyer requires for his / her customs stamped documents by the US Chamber of Commerce or any Consular work?

Your forwarder should help you review your commercial invoice and packing list, and assess the information before proposing the desirable mode of transport, routing information, departure availability, or transit time. From there, we’ll get you a shipping quote, which we review with you making sure it enunciates every aspect of your request & that nothing is left behind.

Upon getting your approval with a shipping or pick-up date, we initiate booking with the carrier that is sent back to the shipper for you to ready your shipment.

Most, but, not all commercial goods & household goods can be shipped under a general license. Any hazardous shipment, you need to procure the MSDS (manufacturer safety data sheet). Check the Imco terms guide to pack meeting the air, ocean carriers’ requirements. Hazardous cargo rates are higher than dry goods rates.

(MORE LIKE THIS: How to Find the Right Approved Freight Forwarders)

For shippers new in the export business

If you’re new to the business and you want to ship via air freight, it is likely that you are an unknown shipper for the TSA. This is significant because you’ll be limited to the aircraft types available. You would be accessing a freighter aircraft only. However, if working with a freight forwarder that has existing relationships and known shipper status with the TSA, you will gain access to passenger aircraft.

For the repeat shippers, if you are not a known shipper with the TSA yet, you ought to have a freight forwarder as well, because you’ll have access to our network and shipper status with the TSA, which will help you become “known.” 

Being known will give you access to freighters and combi-aircraft, increasing the frequency of flights & getting more competitive rates. This is the kind of thing you’ll be hard pressed to find with those mega/cheap-rate dealers.



Picking the best piece of fruit isn’t as simple as going to the bargain bin and grabbing the first one that your hand touches. Haven’t you ever noticed that produce sales are often associated with surplusses or production mishaps? Bruised bananas, overly ripe avocados… Yeah, they’re cheaper, but ultimately more costly when they end up in the trash and you end up buying them again (or eating out that night).

Your freight forwarder can be just as helpful and nimble as your farmer’s markets, providing direct access to those  important to your process, so you get exactly what you pay for, nothing more… nothing less.

ETC Intl. Freight System is a licensed air & ocean freight forwarder (IATA, FMC, NVOCC bonded). A USA Corporation since 1984, whether, you seek air or ocean freight & to our broad customer base, we offer warehousing, distribution, packing, crating, trucking, customhouse brokerage & inland delivery/pickup services. For a free rate quote from an approved international freight forwarder, contact ETC International Freight System today!

GET a quote

Wishing you next shipment a happy voyage.




Tell us a little about your project, we’ll respond same day (Monday – Friday, 8:00 am - 5:00 pm).