Freight Forwarding in Canada & How Can it Help Your Business

If you operate a small-to-medium sized business (SME) and you need to ship or store products inside or outside Canada, finding cost-effective and on-time solutions can range from a time-consuming challenge to a logistical nightmare.

Freight forwarders, who are specialists in transportation logistics, customs, warehousing, security, and all aspects of shipping, can greatly simplify and streamline this process, saving you time and money.

Determining the Shipping Method: Air, Truck & Ocean Freight

Let’s take a look at things you need to think about if you make all the arrangements yourself. You will need to determine the ideal method of shipping. If your shipment is relatively small, and you need it to arrive rapidly, you might consider air shipping. If the size of your shipment is large, this usually requires trucking or railways within Canada. If you want the shipment to be as economical as possible, you will need to contact all the air, trucking, and railway companies available to you in order to compare transportation time and rates. With more than twenty such companies in Montreal or Toronto, for example, this will take some time.

Logistics optimization & Insurance

Is it important for your shipment to be protected and not compromised? Do you have the systems and people in place who ensure its security? How about the most reliable and economical insurance to protect yourself in case of loss or damage?

Getting your goods to their final destination can mean making arrangements with different transportation companies for the same shipment. What if you have several types of goods going to the same place? You would benefit by having a plan for consolidating freight. Once the shipment has left your door, you want to be able to know at any moment just where your shipment is. You need a system in place for freight tracking (as well as the personnel to track the shipments).

If the shipment is going overseas, you will need to arrange for it to be hauled onboard a ship. This means you need to book cargo space. Again the freight consolidation question: can your freight be combined with other freight – yours or another company’s shipment(s)? If you don’t have the logistical expertise, or access to the information to take advantage of such opportunities, your costs will inevitably be higher than those of a freight forwarding company who specializes in this domain.

The Complexity of International Shipping

If your shipment crosses an international border, then another set of issues is added: you need to be aware of all of the legal documents that are required, which may include special permits depending on the types of goods. Near the border, your shipment will often be stored in a customs warehouses. At this point, certified inspections (performed by authorized inspectors in the destination country) may be required before your shipment will be released. You, as a business owner, will not welcome such delays when speed and on-time delivery are necessary to guarantee customer satisfaction.

Once the shipment has arrived in the destination country, you still need to get it to the recipient. To do this, you need to contact the right companies in that country. Of course, it would be good to know which companies are best equipped to handle your needs. For example, your shipment containing a heavy crate needs to be delivered on a flatbed to your customer, as that is the only way your client can properly offload at destination. For this and many other requirements, you will need to know what destination services are available to you, and which companies you can trust to work through to ensure no issues. This is where a freight forwarder that has an international network of suppliers and partners can come through to manage all of these details for you.

Shipment Warehousing & Risk management

Some businesses have found that they can get better deals on products they buy and then resell if they buy in bulk quantities and then resell in smaller quantities to their clients. If you want to take
advantage of such an opportunity, you will need to arrange for
warehousing (and also for product distribution to your customers from the warehouse). If you are doing this yourself, two options are available to you: maintain your own warehouse or use the warehousing services of a 3PL. These outsourced services include everything from inventory control, to pick and pack, to fulfilment, and allow you to have the benefit of not having to make large upfront investments in facilities and personnel.

If you are coordinating your own freight moves, what if something goes wrong? Hopefully, you have arranged for the proper insurance. If you work through a forwarder, they can help coordinate the claims process for you.

Saving time & money with Freight Forwarding

What if this part of your business life could be simpler? The good news is that it can be – if, instead of taking on all those complications yourself, you use a company in Canada specializing in freight forwarding. A freight forwarder organizes your shipments to get from Point A to Point B. As experts in transportation logistics, they have relationships with multiple carriers.

  • Their knowledge of logistics enables them to lower your overall costs, since many freight forwarders have preferential rates with various types of shipping modes and options.
  • As an individual company, you would not have access to consolidators that can combine your shipments with other shipments to lower freight costs. Freight forwarders, on the other hand, do have access to such information, which translates into reduced cost for you.
  • Freight forwarders arrange for the level of security you need for your goods while they are in transit (or when they are warehoused).
  • Freight forwarders are also aware of the best, most cost-effective – and above all else, most reliable – insurance for your products.
    Remember: cheap insurance is not always good insurance. Have your personnel been trained to recognize the difference? If something should happen to your freight during the shipping process, your freight forwarder will take care of processing the claim.


When your freight crosses an international border, your freight forwarder will take care of all the necessary paperwork. Their relationship with customs, and especially their knowledge of the numerous regulations, will result in minimizing the delays to your shipment from the border.

For the business that distributes its products from a warehouse, there is a third alternative to the two options of warehousing and distribution mentioned earlier: freight forwarding companies have arrangements with warehouses (and some forwarders even operate their own warehouses). This relieves you of the burden of locating and operating your own warehouse. The freight forwarder will also take care of the distribution of your goods from the warehouse.

To sum it up, you no longer have to worry about arranging the best transportation at the best rate, hoping you get the right permits, filling out paperwork, getting insurance, tracking claims, finding a warehouse, etc. Your freight forwarder does it all for you.

Bottom line: With freight forwarding, you save money and time for transportation of goods that could cost more if you arranged it all yourself.  You only need to deal with ONE contact person, and you pay ONE total invoice for all service combined so you do not have to worry about paying various suppliers along the way.

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