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Freight Shipping Guide Overview

What is Freight?

Examples of what freight isFreight are goods transported by land, air or sea. Freight is often synonymous with cargo. The type of packaging and documentation needed to ship freight depends on the mode of transport, among other things. Goods shipped by sea, or ocean freight, will need to be strongly protected against the element and are often sent in shipping containers. Air freight is transported on special air freight pallets and it is important to identify and label the center of gravity for these shipments. Air freight should also be protected against rapid changes in temperature, humidity and pressure if needed and against vibrations up to 500 Hz. Freight shipped by truck can be packaged in crates and pallets, and special refrigerated trucks may be used for perishable goods.

Refer to our basic shipping guide to find out what is involved in packing goods for domestic and international shipping, labeling and documentation, cargo insurance, determining freight class and how to calculate freight cost.

How to Package Freight

How to package freightIn most cases, you will want to palletize or crate your freight. Shipping, especially international shipping, puts a lot of stress on cargo, and you should do your best to ensure that your freight is packaged to protect against moisture, pilferage and breakage. Also, be sure not to make your cargo excessively heavy by packing too many items into one crate or pallet. Packages should not contain empty space, as they can easily be crashed or dented. Be sure to fill empty spaces with dunnage. Dunnage includes space fillers such as newspapers, wood blocks and foam. Many products will require cushioning in addition to dunnage to absorb shock. Cushioning materials include foam, air-filled bags and cartons. Protect your cargo from theft with tamper-evident tape, stretch wrap, strapping seals

Labeling Freight

Label freight to help the receiver identify your packages, but avoid labeling products in a way that others might identify them, especially if your freight contains pricier items. This will help deter theft.

If your freight is to be exported, your labeling must contain the following to meet international shipping regulations:

  • Name of the Country of Origin
  • Name of Port of Entry
  • Number of Packages
  • Size of Each Case in Both Inches & Centimeters
  • Shipper’s Mark
  • Handling Marks
  • Weight in Pounds & Kilograms
  • Precautions to Be Taken with the Package Such as ‘Fragile’ or ‘This Side up’ in Both English & the Language of the Country of Destination
  • Universal Symbols for Hazardous Materials
  • List of Ingredients for Comestible Products If Required in the Destination Country, Both in English & the Receiving Country’s LanguageHow to label freight

Shipping Documentation

The following documentation is required for international shipping:

  • Shipping documentationBill of Lading or Air Waybill: A contract between the carrier and owner of the cargo, must contain a destination control statement.
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Certificate of Origin: Official document that states the origin of the goods. May be required for some countries. NAFTA countries have their own certificate of origin.
  • Consular Invoice: Required in some countries, certifies the shipment and has the name of the consignor, consignee and value of the cargo. Must be certified by a consular official from the country of destination.
  • Inspection Certificate
  • Dock Receipt & Warehouse Receipt
  • Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED)
  • Packing List
  • Insurance Certificate
  • Export License

For more information on exporting and documentation, visit Export.gov, or contact Global Shipping Services. We are happy to answer your international shipping questions. Global Shipping Services also provides assistance with shipping documentation.

What is Cargo Insurance?

Cargo insurance can protect your goods from theft, acts of God, collisions and other risks. There are a variety of different types of cargo insurance available, and the type you require will depend on whether you are shipping by truck, air or sea, what you are shipping and the shipping destination. However, one thing is for sure, cargo insurance is necessary to protect your cargo from a number of things that are not always under the control of the carrier. Some types of cargo insurance include All-Risk which covers damage from any external cause, Named Perils which covers a list of risks including crash, burning, sinking and others (doesn’t typically cover theft); and Shipment by Shipment which does not cover acts of God and other risks.

What is Freight Class?

Freight class consists of 18 categories that are used to classify LTL (less than truckload) shipments in the U.S. Freight class is determined by the density, stowability, handling and liability of the cargo, and helps determine the freight cost.

  • Density: The density of your freight can be determined by measuring the length, width and height of your package. Multiply the length, width and height and divide that number by the weight of the object in pounds. This will give you the freight density.
  • Stowability: This is how easy your package is to ship along with other freight. Oddly shaped packages will be more difficult to stow, and hazardous materials cannot be shipped with non-hazardous materials. These are just a couple of factors that can affect your freight’s stowability ranking.
  • Handling: The handling ranking of your freight is determined by how easy it is to load and unload and if there are any special requirement in the handling of your packages.
  • Liability: This is determined by how probable it is that your goods can be broken, stolen, easily damaged or damaging to other freight.

View our Freight Class Guide for more information on determining your freight class.

How to Calculate Freight Costs

Many factors go into determining the cost of freight. One of them is freight class, as described above. A shipment with a freight class of 50 will be significantly cheaper than class 500. Another factor is the distance. International shipping requires a lot more paperwork and possibly additional packaging requirements. It also has higher insurance costs. Freight forwarders offer different base rates and different opportunities for discounts. To help quickly and fairly determine your shipping costs, have an idea of the dimensions and weight of your packages. Global Shipping Services can help you determine your freight class, get cargo insurance and get proper shipping documentation. We will also negotiate freight costs and help you find the best shipping solution – no matter the size or shape of your cargo or your time restraints.

Contact Global Shipping Services to find out what we can do for you and your shipping needs.

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