Freight forwarders offer an invaluable service to many businesses. They take care of everything from sourcing protective packaging to finding you the best shipping fees. As your business grows and becomes unable to effectively manage international shipping in-house, it’s time to consider adding a freight forwarder to your list of contractors. But many feel apprehensive about this next stage of growth as they don’t have a clear understanding of the cost implications. In this blog, we’ll give you a guide to freight forwarder prices and our tips for making this a cost-effective solution in your business.

What Factors Impact Freight Forwarding Costs?

International shipping is a complicated and ever-changing market. It takes years to build up a good understanding of why fluctuations occur and a bank of contacts to help obtain the best deals. This is what a freight forwarder does. Their costs and prices will vary according to several factors so it pays to shop around and understand exactly what each person is offering. Let’s take a look at some of the things that will impact the quote you’re offered.

The Type of Cargo You’re Shipping

You are required to specify what the cargo you’re shipping is on multiple documents when shipping a product across seas. And there is a good reason for this. Different types of cargo require different shipping arrangements and incur different fees for handling. Hazardous goods, for example, need to be handled with care to reduce the risk to individuals throughout the freight movement line. Perishable goods are likely to have demands on delivery times and therefore, need to be fast-forwarded through the lines – incurring additional charges. Very large products will require more space on the boat, aeroplane or lorry, which increases the shipping prices.

It also pays to remember that some products require review or supervision from specific government bodies. Makeup, for example, will incur an additional FDA filing fee that needs to be accounted for.

The Weight and Volume of Your Shipment

The price of your shipment is also largely defined by either the weight or volume. Freight companies will take into account both the weight and volumetric weight and use the larger of the two to determine how much you need to pay. This is one reason why it pays to work with a freight forwarder. If you’re shipping a light product that has large dimensions, it may work out more expensive than a small, heavier product. A professional freight forwarder will help you to understand how to package and separate your goods to get the best price.


When you ship by container, it is normally more cost-effective to ship a full container. In this instance, how cargo is packed into the container and palletized takes greater importance. Your goods may be able to be stacked and organised to fill a single container, or they may have to be consolidated with goods from other shippers. This process can either cost or save you significant amounts of money. Freight forwarders will be able to support you with this, having access to other clients and a greater ability to fill a container effectively. They will also better understand the legislations of many different countries, making it more likely that your goods will arrive and pass through customs at the fee you expect.

The Cost of the Carrier Themselves

This fee covers the entire freight moving process, from organising the shipment of cargo by sea, air or road and delivering to its end destination. Many freight forwarders have local warehouses where you can have goods shipped. They then take care of organising transport to the shipping port or airport and transportation once the goods have arrived in the destination country.

Within this cost, the exact fee will depend on factors such as the distance goods need to travel and how popular the route in question is. The further away you want to ship, the more expensive it will be. But, you also need to consider how regularly the route you want to take is used. Less frequently travelled shipping routes can be cheaper and a freight forwarder will help you to discover these, if relevant.

Raising and Checking Documentation

One of the most important things that a freight forwarder can help you with is raising documentation. Without the right forms, customs won’t be able to accurately work out the fees and import taxes your shipment needs to incur. Alongside these, you could find a barrage of fines coming your way. And, your shipments will likely be held up and delayed as a result.

Depending on where you’re shipping to and what your shipping, documents change and requirements differ. We’ve written a blog post entitled ‘What Documentation Does A Freight Forwarder Assist With?’ which you can read on our website today. But remember that every shipment to different destinations will be different and it pays to have an experienced support network on your side as you navigate it.

So, How Much Does a Freight Forwarder Charge?

As you can see from the variables above, the actual cost of a freight forwarder is something that cannot be pinned down exactly. It will depend on any number of these points, alongside changes in international shipping agreements. The best way to understand exactly what you’re getting within your quote is to ask for an itemised copy. This will break down everything that is and isn’t included. Check for things such as insurance for your goods and whether transportation to the end-user is included. Be aware that there will also be an administration or handling fee payable to the freight forwarder and some prices may be recorded at the current currency exchange rates.

Here at Radius Warehouse and Logistic Services, we have been supporting business owners with their international shipping needs since 1996. Our specialist team is here to help you get the best prices and services during cargo movement. If you would like to speak to us or request a quote, visit our website today.