A freight forwarder is an individual or a company who can help a shipper manage some parts or the entire international shipping process. This can include picking up your goods from the manufacturer, storing the cargo at warehouses, booking an ocean carrier, trucking and loading it to the ship, clearing all customs requirements in origin and destination countries, and delivering the shipment to its ultimate destination. Working with a freight forwarder allows you to have one invoice while using all these services. A freight forwarder can handle just about anything that is manufactured in other countries, and can work with an LCL (less than a container) load, or as many full containers as you need.
In the US, it is required to have a government-issued license to operate a freight forwarding business. An ocean freight forwarder is also known as an ocean transportation intermediary, or a NVOCC (non vessel operating common carrier), and their licenses are issued by FMC (US Federal Maritime Commission). To obtain the license, a company needs to have at least one employee who has at least three years of experience working in this field. This requirement may differ depend on the country.