Does My Business Need Help With Global Compliance?
When it comes to international business, every move you make counts. Exporters often need assistance at various stages of the exporting process- from building a complete program to getting products out the door.
Deciding where to begin and who to contact can be difficult, and not least of the difficulties lie in figuring out if you need a trade compliance consultant or a freight forwarder.
Our team at Export Solutions often receives inquiries from potential clients looking for assistance. We welcome inquiries from customers just like you looking for customs compliance training, international trade compliance, and export compliance consulting.
We take global trade consulting seriously. Our trade compliance specialists are experts in their fields. In many cases, we can assist those looking for compliance help; however, sometimes, they need a freight forwarder.
It is easy to confuse the two roles because consultants and freight forwarders often work very closely to achieve export compliance while following trade regulations.
However, while the two functions have some similarities, there are distinct areas that each role is an expert in, and there are specific situations when a trade consultant makes sense for your project vs. a freight forwarder, and vice versa.
Let’s clear the air and look at some key roles that consultants and freight forwarders play to meet your global trade compliance needs today!
Trade Consultant vs. Freight Forwarder: What’s the Difference?
Regarding freight forwarders and trade consultants, let’s consider the consultants as vacation planners and freight forwarders as your travel agent.
A consultant’s role is to help you navigate the complex world of import and export trade compliance regulations. International trade consultants use statistics, forecasting, and projecting for clients. International trade consultants also navigate policy and laws while processing necessary government forms to help businesses operate seamlessly.
An international trade consultant is dedicated to assisting you with a variety of consulting services:
- Putting Together A Complete Compliance Program
- Identifying And Closing Gaps
- Training Employees In All Areas Of Compliance
- Helping Your Company Be Compliant
- Preventing Issues In The Future
Your trade consultant will help ensure that everything is in place before any products go into the box, much like a vacation planner ensures that every detail is taken care of before you jump on the plane.
On the other hand, a freight forwarder is a business that organizes shipments to ensure goods are delivered to a final point of distribution, so your company maintains its competitiveness.
Freight forwarders assist with details associated with actually moving your freight or arranging transportation for it, rather than dealing with paperwork from government agencies.
Freight forwarders are experts at getting your goods where they need to be logistically, much like a travel agent assists in all of the transportation logistics for a trip.
With careful planning and forethought, a trade consultant and a freight forwarder work to prevent costly mistakes and ensure your products get where they need to be.
Now that we have a basic understanding of high-level differences between an international trade consultant and a freight forwarder, let’s dive into specific details around each area of trade compliance.
What Is A Trade Consultant?
Compliance consultants are dedicated to assisting you in putting processes into place, which will allow your goods to move efficiently and compliantly once they get to the forwarder- without physically moving the goods and arranging for transportation.
Some tasks this involves are:
- Reviewing Your Transactions: Ensuring you have accurate documentation and classification for your products, services, country of origin, and shipping destination.
- Licensing Assistance: Researching to help you determine if a license is required and obtaining that license on your behalf .
- Regulatory Registrations: Assisting with ITAR registration, trade agreements, and other compliance requirements.
- Answering Your Questions: Acting as a sounding board between you and the government for all of your compliance and regulatory-related questions, no matter how big or small.
- Representing Your Company: Providing representation and guidance with voluntary audits or other actions if the government finds you in violation of any area of trade compliance.
Our team at Export Solutions invests ourselves in each business we take on to deliver unique solutions tailored to your specific requirements, whether a classification project or the development of an entire program.
We pride ourselves on becoming invested in the success of your business because we know that our trade consulting services have a direct impact on your future success. Because of this, we strive to develop positive, long-term relationships with our clients while working to help each company be as independent as they desire to build their programs.
Since your business needs are unique, the responsibilities and actions can vary greatly depending on your needs.
Our expertise in global trade compliance is not limited to consulting projects, but we also assist in managed services for those clients needing additional resources for effective trade compliance.
- Development of a complete import or export compliance program, including processes and procedures.
- HTS/Schedule B and ECCN classification of product lines and inventory or individual products.
- License determination, license submittal, and maintenance.
- Maintaining license logs, review of conditions and provisos, edits and updates to permits.
- Assessment of gaps in an existing compliance program and practical assistance in creating a more compliant program.
- Filing of ITAR Registration and associated documentation.
- Creating and reviewing documentation, including commercial invoices and AES/EEI filings, and auditing those documents for accuracy.
- Development and presentation of training in all aspects of trade compliance initiatives.
- Drafting and submission of voluntary disclosures.
- Identification of export risks for a company.
- Guidance on all trade-related topics ranging from one-off questions to complex issues.
- Managed Services to provide dedicated ongoing support for those needing additional internal resources.
Now that we have a deep understanding of what compliance consulting is and what trade compliance consultants do, we can take a more in-depth look to understand more about freight forwarders and their role in the import and export process.
What Is A Freight Forwarder?
Freight forwarders are there to assist you in arranging the actual shipment of goods. These freight brokers have an intimate knowledge of how to get products to their destination. They are supply chain experts dedicated to the logistical and practical aspects of the transportation of your goods.
A freight forwarder coordinates the shipment of products from one destination to another, acting as an intermediary for the shipper and transportation services. They negotiate the best prices and determine the fastest and most efficient route for your goods. Freight forwarders get your products to their destinations and track them on the way.
Freight forwarders play a significant role in getting your items to their final destination since they oversee the physical movement of goods throughout the entire process.
Freight forwarders provide specific services to get your products to their destination as safely and efficiently as possible:
- Moving Products: Arrangement of physical shipping for products for all modes of transportation and assisting in the smooth movement of those goods from dock to door.
- Setting Shipping Prices: Negotiating pricing and services for that transportation, liaising with carriers to determine the most efficient and economical routes.
- Finding Storage Facilities: Arrangement of warehousing for products and booking cargo space.
- Offering Transportation Support: Assistance with packaging, insurance, and documentation requirements for transporting goods to and from distributors.
- Acting As A Middle Man: Intermediary between the exporter/shipper and all transportation services.
- Keeping Tabs On Goods: Tracking transportation of goods from the point of exit to entry.
- Overseeing The Transport Process: Guidance and communication on modes of transportation, packaging, required documentation, tariffs due, and routes.
At this point, we have discussed the difference between a trade consultant and a freight forwarder when it comes to global trade compliance.
While each expert is vital in their own way, we can see significant differences between how trade compliance consultants and freight forwarders operate, their responsibilities, and roles throughout the entire trade process.
Since we know details about each area of expertise, now is the time to look at when you need a freight forwarder vs. when you need a trade compliance consultant.
How Do I Know If I Need A Freight Forwarder or Trade Consultant?
Now, the million-dollar question is, how do you know if you need a trade consultant or a freight forwarder for your trade compliance needs? We have a pretty good understanding of what a trade consultant and a freight forwarder do, but how can you be sure you are reaching out to the right expert for your specific needs?
It may be easy to determine whether you need a freight forwarder or a trade consultant in some cases. It may be more difficult other times – you may even need both, especially in some international markets with more complicated regulations.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the indicators that dictate when you should be reaching out to a trade expert to ensure you are getting the proper support.
When You Need A Trade Consultant
If you require ongoing assistance in building and maintaining a compliance program involving varying aspects of the list above, you should contact a trade consultant. Here are a few indicators that you need a consultant for trade compliance:
- I have products ready to export but don’t have a classification, and I’m not sure if I need a license or not.
- I think I need to be ITAR-registered, but I’m not sure how.
- I’ve been contacted by BIS about a possible violation and need assistance on how to proceed.
- I want to begin or have already begun exporting, but we lack formal programs and/or procedures.
- I have specific questions about exporting and need someone to assist in navigating the regulations.
- Someone in my company told me certain countries we shouldn’t ship to, and I would like more information on which ones to prevent issues.
- We need resources in Trade Compliance, but would rather a professional company take care of it.
- My company would like training on the various aspects of the export regulations.
You’ll need to secure trade consulting services in any instance where you have uncertainties about product classification, regulatory procedures, and paperwork required by government agencies.
Because regulations are constantly changing, it’s vital to have an expert on your team to comply with your company. It’s much more cost-effective to hire a consultant than deal with the headaches and steep fines of international trade.
When You Need A Freight Forwarder
If you need practical, logistical assistance in getting your product from point A to point B, particularly a specific item with specific certification requirements, chances are you need a freight forwarder if:
- I have an effective export compliance program and need someone to help logistically move my products.
- I need to arrange for my items to be warehoused.
- My goods are ready to ship, but I need to determine what certifications I need, such as the FDA or TSCA.
- I need specific information regarding packaging and marking my items.
- I need information about container costs and shipping my goods.
- I want information on shipping art between the United Kingdom or Canada and the United States.
- My company needs assistance with exporting and importing specific goods, obtaining certifications, and shipping requirements for those goods.
Essentially, a freight forwarder will help ensure your items make it to the desired destination, are stored appropriately, and meet specific certifications along the way.
However, they typically do not assist with training or building a compliance program.
Your Solution For Holistic Trade Compliance & Consulting
After reading the above information, the differences between a trade consultant and a freight forwarder should be a bit clearer.
In addition, you should have a little more insight into whether you need a trade compliance consultant or a freight forwarder for your upcoming project.
Freight forwarders and trade consultants both play a massive role in exporting, frequently working together to ensure all pieces are covered.
Export Solutions extends your business and has built a reputation as the world’s leading trade expert by offering a comprehensive range of regulatory compliance services to our clients across multiple industries. Our clients love to work with us because we always deliver our expert consulting on time, within budget, and to the highest standards.
We also offer assistance with the design and implementation of trade compliance training, delivered any way you please. Export Solutions will ensure that every member of your company knows how to keep you in compliance.
Now is the time to schedule your 30-minute complimentary consultation if you would like to learn how our team can make your job easier and more efficient while protecting your company from crippling penalties and fines from violating trade compliance regulations.
Trade Consultant versus Freight Forwarder F.A.Q.
Emmalie Armstrong is a Trade Compliance Consultant with Export Solutions – a firm specializing in U.S. import/export regulations.