What’s the difference between a NVOCC and a Freight Forwarder?

What is a NVOCC ?

NVOCC stands for Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier. It's a fancy way of saying that they are a type of company that helps people ship things across the ocean. NVOCCs don't actually own any ships, but they act as the middleman between people who want to ship things and the companies that own the ships. They collect a bunch of small shipments from different people and put them together into one big shipment that's more efficient to transport.


How does NVOCC operates?

how does it work, responsible, freight forwarder nvoccWhen you want to ship something, an NVOCC can help you with a lot of things. They can book your cargo, arrange for it to be picked up and delivered, and take care of all the important documents. They also negotiate the prices with the ship owners and give you a container to put your things in. NVOCCs are responsible for making sure your things get safely transported from one port to another. They can either fill a whole container with just your stuff (FCL) or put your stuff in a container with other people's stuff (LCL).


What are roles and responsibilities of NVOCC?

NVOCCs play a crucial role in international trade by facilitating the movement of goods across borders. As such, they are responsible for ensuring that all necessary documentation is in order, including bills of lading, commercial invoices, and other trade documents. They also manage customs clearance procedures and compliance with regulations governing international trade.

In addition to these responsibilities, NVOCCs must provide competitive rates, negotiate with ocean carriers on behalf of their clients, and keep them informed of the status of their shipments throughout the transportation process. If any issues arise, NVOCCs are responsible for resolving them and ensuring customer satisfaction.

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What is a Freight Forwarder?

A freight forwarder is a company that arranges and coordinates the shipment of goods on behalf of a shipper. They act as intermediaries between shippers and carriers, managing the entire transportation process from start to finish. Freight forwarders can provide a range of services, including transportation, customs clearance, documentation, insurance, and warehousing.

How do Freight Forwarder operates?

difference between NVOCC, Freight Forwarder Freight forwarders, in their role as intermediaries between clients and transportation services, frequently leverage their extensive networks and industry expertise to secure optimal transportation solutions. Additionally, they assume comprehensive responsibility for the shipping process, encompassing tasks such as rate negotiations with carriers, coordinating cargo pickups and deliveries, and ensuring all necessary documentation is in order.

Moreover, numerous freight forwarders offer value-added services beyond transportation, including customs brokerage, cargo insurance, and warehousing. These supplementary offerings prove particularly advantageous for businesses venturing into international trade or grappling with the intricate intricacies of global shipping.


What are roles and responsibilities of a Freight Forwarder ?

The roles and responsibilities of a freight forwarder can vary depending on the specific needs of the shipper. However, let’s take a look at some common responsibilities of a Freight Forwarder :

  • Negotiating rates with carriers on behalf of the shipper
  • Arranging for the pickup and delivery of cargo
  • Managing documentation, including bills of lading, customs forms, and insurance paperwork
  • Coordinating with carriers, customs officials, and other parties involved in the shipping process
  • Providing advice and guidance on customs regulations, tariffs, and other trade-related matters
  • Offering value-added services such as cargo insurance, warehousing, and distribution

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What are the main differences between a NVOCC and a Freight Forwarder?

Key differences NVOCC Freight Forwarder
Definition A carrier that provides ocean transportation services but does not own or operate its own vessels. An agent that arranges shipments for individuals or companies and may provide additional services such as customs clearance, insurance, and warehousing.
Role Acts as a carrier to shippers, issues bills of lading, and assumes responsibility for the cargo. Acts as an intermediary between the shipper and various transportation services, coordinating and arranging the shipment.
Liability Assumes responsibility for the cargo and is liable for loss or damage during transportation. Acts as an agent on behalf of the shipper and is not liable for loss or damage during transportation.
Operations Provides transportation services and has the flexibility to negotiate rates and schedules with carriers. Provides a range of services, including transportation, documentation, customs clearance, insurance, and warehousing.
Expertise Specializes in ocean transportation and has extensive knowledge of the shipping industry. Has expertise in logistics and supply chain management, including transportation, customs regulations, and trade compliance.

For a simplified version, here's a concise summary outlining the distinctions between NVOCC and freight forwarders :

board nvocc freight forwarder infography

NVOCC vs Freight Forwarder: Which One to Choose when shipping from China?

freight forwarder nvocc

When making a decision between an NVOCC and a freight forwarder for shipping in China, there are several factors to take into account.

Firstly, NVOCCs often have the advantage of offering lower rates. This is primarily because, as we saw, they have the capability to consolidate shipments from multiple shippers into a single container. Consequently, businesses with smaller shipments or those not in need of end-to-end shipping services may find this option cost-effective. Additionally, dealing directly with the carrier when using an NVOCC grants you greater control over the transportation of your goods. However, it also means assuming more responsibility for arranging documentation and ensuring compliance with regulations.

On the other hand, freight forwarders typically provide a more extensive array of services. These encompass packing, documentation, and customs clearance, among others. This comprehensive offering proves advantageous for businesses seeking end-to-end shipping solutions. With a freight forwarder, you have less direct control over the transportation process, but they assume a greater share of responsibility for managing documentation and ensuring compliance.

Freight Forwarder

Another factor to consider is the level of experience and expertise required from your shipping provider. In this regard, NVOCCs may be more suitable for experienced shippers who possess familiarity with transportation regulations and processes. On the other hand, freight forwarders may prove more beneficial for first-time or infrequent shippers who necessitate additional guidance and support.

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Advantages and disadvantages of a NVOCC

NVOCC has its own set of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to international shipping. In order to make an informed decision, let's take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks associated with this shipping option :

Advantages and disadvantages of a Freight Forwarder

Just like NVOCC, freight forwarders have their own set of advantages and disadvantages when it comes to international shipping. It's important to understand these pros and cons in order to make an informed decision when considering the services of a freight forwarder. Let's take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks they bring to the table :

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