Apart from ensuring the customs clearance of the goods they are hired to move, whether dangerous or not, and handling the associated documentation, freight forwarders are also responsible for overseeing the packing of the goods in question.
General aspects on export packing and packing materials
Freight forwarders have the specialist knowledge required for handling the packing of goods for export.
Their decisions in this area are based on the fact that the exported goods must reach their destination in the same condition in which they were when collected, as well as on other factors such as the ease of handling, the potential risks that might occur during the transportation and protection of the goods or various environmental factors. The fragility of the goods scheduled for export should be considered in advance in order for the risks of damage during transportation to be minimised. Moreover, overpacking may lead to increased costs.
The international trade regulations also refer to the packing materials to be used, some countries being very strict about this particular aspect. Such countries include Australia, China or New Zealand. Many legal frameworks require that the wood used for packing be fumigated and that plant health certificates be provided, the same regulations applying to the waste wood used to secure the goods during transportation. The violation of these provisions may cause the goods to be returned for repacking, which may involve significant costs. Freight forwarders should also familiarize themselves with the regulations on the disposal of packing materials.
Regulations on the transportation of dangerous goods
The transportation of dangerous goods is also subject to national and international laws. It is possible that the freight forwarders have no direct access to the goods at any time, despite handling the paperwork and instructions.
Dangerous goods must be identified even if not accompanied by any consignments. Many products are classified as dangerous without there being any indication of their nature in their name.
It is the responsibility of manufacturers and shippers to properly classify and pack dangerous goods, as well as provide the proper documentation. However, the freight forwarders should also know whether they are loading dangerous goods. Specialist training on dangerous goods can be undertaken with the British International Freight Association (BIFA).
Each type of freight is subject to a specific legal framework. Operating with various modes of transport, freight forwarders must be familiar with the national and international laws on the transportation of dangerous goods, which include:
• The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations (CDG) issued in 2009 for road, rail and EU inland waterways freight;
• The European Agreement on the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) for road freight;
• The International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code for sea freight;
• The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) for air freight.
All participants to the preparation and transportation of dangerous goods are trained in order to be able to verify the legal compliance of their consignments. Moreover, the parties involved in international freight transport must be familiar with the safety and security regulations in effect now.