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Logistics 101: Forwarder vs Broker vs Consultant

International logistics involves a lot of people in a bunch of different roles. How do you know what your business needs?

Freight forwarder


Freight forwarders organize multimodal transport of cargo globally. They arrange for cargo to move from an origin to a destination by air, ground, or sea within a specific time frame. They facilitate all the details of that movement including paperwork and documentation so that shipments flow within and across international borders with compliance and efficiency, as well as without delays.

The global supply chain has seriously impacted the speed and price of moving freight. Check out our monthly freight updates for news.

Customs broker

Customs brokers are responsible for preparing a customs entry and clearing a shipment once it arrives at the border/port of entry. They are licensed and regulated by a country’s border agency. They submit the necessary information to the agency on behalf of their clients. They must be experts in the entry procedures, admissibility requirements, classification, valuation, rates of duty, and applicable taxes and fees for imported merchandise.

Full-service logistics provider

A company that offers both freight forwarding and customs brokerage provides door-to-door service, making the entire export/import process seamless. Full-service logistics providers secure and coordinate the transportation, gather the necessary paperwork, clear the goods, and arrange for final delivery.

An international logistics partner can advise on the most efficient and cost-effective mode of transport (air, sea, land) and routing based on a client’s time frame. They can also assist an importer or exporter in understanding and selecting the optimal Incoterm, based on the desired amount of risk and responsibility.

Trade consultant

A trade consultant looks at specific issues in your import/export operations—or at your operations as a whole—looking for both risk and opportunity. A consultant will look for ways to improve your compliance, reduce the duty you pay, help you access preferential trade agreements, or assist you in navigating a verification (audit). 

Your comprehensive logistics partner

At Cole, we are proud to be a full-service logistics provider integrating freight forwarding and customs brokerage, along with in-depth consulting services to improve your overall operations and ensure your goods get to their destination seamlessly.

A cohesive, collaborative logistics team has advantages that separate stand-alone companies simply do not. Contact any of our three departments and let us know how we can help.

Full-service logistics. It's what we do.

Contact us today!

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