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How to get a good quote for my shipment

When you request a freight quote you usually do it by sending an email to your freight forwarder or you fill in a template at the forwarder’s website. Either way, you may find that it is a hassle to ask for a rate, because too many details need to be provided. Providing many details is time consuming, but there is an important reason to share them with your forwarder : it enables them to give you the exact rate you need.

The truth is that you want exact rates. You do not want averages –unless you really don’t have plans to make a shipment. It is important for you to know the right numbers that you will pay to your forwarder, because those numbers also count towards the price of your products, and your profits. Thus, it is of extreme importance to provide your forwarder with all the information needed since the very first time, so the quotes can come back on time and with the precise rates.

There are a couple of things that you need to consider in order to send a complete quote request:

  1. Origin and destination

As simple as it may sound, the origin and the destination have to be precise. Trucking rates can be different within a few kilometers in the same city. Ocean rates also have variations between shipping to Los Angeles port, or shipping to a CFS (Container Freight Station) in Los Angeles. Nowadays, these differences are of common knowledge, however it is always worthy to make it clear to your forwarder.

  1. Shipping date

The day of your shipment is key to get the correct rates. Normally, freight forwarders offer rates with a validity of 30 days. Usually you would request a rate much more in advanced because you want to have your budgets before planning a shipment. It is essential to be honest to the forwarder and tell them if your shipping plans will realize within one month or more, allowing them to find the right quotes for you.

Rate validities cannot be extended sometimes, mainly when it is peak season and spaces are getting tight. Keep it in mind.

  1. Weight and volume

For a forwarder, the weight and size of a cargo is the first thing needed to provide a rate since trucks, containers and airplanes have a maximum capacity in terms of kilograms and CBM (cubic meters). A unit rate is assigned to every kilogram or every CBM to make sure that all the costs are covered and that a profit margin is secured.

Forwarders calculate their transport rates on the basis of the weight of the cargo.  The basis of the rates is in the chargeable weight, which is either the gross weight or the volumetric–whichever is the greater. The gross weight is the actual weight you get when you put your cargo on a scale. The volumetric weight is an estimated weight that is calculated from the length, width and height of your packages.


Let’s have an example of chargeable weight. You want to ship a box with cotton; the box is big but the weight is very low because cotton is an extremely light material. Therefore, your chargeable weight is based on the volume because your box will occupy a good amount of space in the truck or airplane. If the forwarder charges you for only the actual weight, they might have some losses because you are occupying space that could have been used by cargos that are heavier and pay by kilogram. Hence, the chargeable weight is needed to ensure that there are no financial losses for the forwarders.

The importance of the size of your packages is high, and you must provide them to the forwarders as accurately as possible. Otherwise, you will not get the correct rates, and you will be surprised when the invoices come after the forwarder has taken the correct measurements of your boxes.

  1. Incoterms

You have to be aware of the incoterms that rule your shipment and inform them in your quote request. This way, forwarders are able to give you all the costs involved with the incoterm involved. FOB and EXW are the most popular terms, but you might also need DDP (Delivery Duty Paid) which will require the same forwarder to handle the customs clearance, or you might need CIP (Carriage and Insurance Paid to) for which your forwarder might also offer attractive transport insurance rates. There is a big world of options to consider, and notifying your Incoterms will ensure the right services are provided.


  1. Knowledge of the product

If your shipment needs some VAS (value added services) you will need to provide some extra information. For example, customs clearance services will require the HS codes (Harmonized System) of your products and a very accurate description. Sometimes you will not know what extra information you can give, but feel free to ask your freight forwarder about how you can help them expedite a rate quote.

  1. Dangerous goods

If it is known that your products are, or contain, hazardous parts, you have to let your forwarder know since the beginning. DG (dangerous goods) affect transport rates and require handling of additional documentation. If you are not certain and have doubts, ask your forwarder; they will have a DG specialist who will look into your shipment requirements.

Good quotes are in general easy to obtain when the transport mode is basic and when you know your cargo’s weight and size. But with all reasons above, now you know that will need to have all the possible information on your hand to get a good quote if your shipments are always different or customized.

Fleet – our marketplace platform for international logistics, offers you more than just getting quotes from different forwarders. You don’t have to send multiple emails to different forwarders or fill up different templates anymore. We have designed our quote request form so that once you provide the most important information about your shipment, interested forwarders will quote on it. You will be able to view and compare their quotes online, and eventually, you can book and pay the forwarder you choose via Fleet platform.




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