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Frequently asked questions by our clients: Freight forwarding in Dubai

Year after year, Dubai never ceases to keep rising to the levels of being one of the primary trading hubs in the world. One of the obvious reasons for this is the city’s strategic geographical location which allows access to and from other trade centers, connecting every important trade lane in the world.

Today, with the innovative infrastructure and business-friendly regulatory in place, it has never been so easy for businesses to do cross-border and international trade via Dubai.

In this blog article, we share the most frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) by our customers about international freight forwarding. By providing answers we aim at helping businesses to set the grounds of their logistics operations effectively and achieve the most transparent transactions with their chosen freight forwarding agent.

FAQs Freight Forwarding in Dubai Blog - Shipping Container and Plane image

What is freight forwarding and what does a freight forwarder do?

Freight forwarding stands for a series of highly coordinated logistics activities where goods are shipped from the origin to their destination using several freight forwarding methods. Freight forwarders, like RSA Global, are the professionals who act on behalf of trade businesses organizing the efficient and safe movements of their commodities. More than the transportation arrangements, freight forwarders also take care of properly packaging your items, informing you of the safety regulations and arranging the storage of your goods, if required. This and more, are the values of partnering with an experienced freight forwarder.

There are several ways of shipping products which can either be via a plane, ship, truck or train. In the following, we will focus on the FAQ’s about transporting shipments via air and sea freight. For an in depth read about road freight, we published a separate article called  “13 questions you need to ask transport companies in Dubai before contract signing”. 
  • Sea/Ocean Freight
Sea freight has been existent since our civilization learned how to trade and is the oldest method of domestic and international shipping. Using this mode, different commodities are loaded aboard ferries or ships to travel international or domestic waters. Ocean freight is one of the cheapest modes of freight transportation primarily due to its capacity to hold up larger volumes per trip. The one obvious downside to using ocean freight is the slow transit time. That is why this mode is mostly recommended for products without immediate due date or longer shelf life.

  • Air Freight
The rising demand for e-commerce products in the region and around the world is forcing businesses to match the pace of consumer demands. This is where the faster and safer method of air transport becomes the practical choice for businesses with products that are fast-moving such as pharmaceuticals, documents, perishable food items, electronics and spare parts for JIT (just-in-time) production. In essence, air freight is favorable for all kinds of time-sensitive items. The price for this expedited mode of transport reflects on the rates which is a lot higher - up to 500 percent or 5x more compared to ocean freight.

Air freight VS. Sea freight transit time

Frequently asked questions about freight forwarding

Network

  • How big is your network?
  • Are you sending shipments to this location?
The very first question that shippers ask us before signing a contract for international freight is about the span and strength of our network. This is important for our customers and other businesses to know because it sets up the limitations of whether they can send their shipments with us. Experienced freight forwarding companies in the UAE will be able to offer a customized solutions with their competitive network setup. Network and efficiency of the routes chosen are also indicative of the cost-effectiveness and transit time.

At RSA Global, our most in demand routes at the moment are from the UAE to the KSA, China, India, Kenya, central Asia or vice versa. However, our network covers all continents including American and Europe. Not all destinations are reachable through a single lane or mode of transportation which is why freight forwarding often includes a combination of different shipping modes (air, sea, road, or rail) or otherwise known as multimodal transportation. Having a strong network all around the globe is an advantage for the customers as their shipments can be routed and transported in the most efficient and economical way possible.

Rates

  • How much does it cost to send a shipment from point A to B?
  • What is the best market rate for air or sea cargo?
To give the best possible rates, we require that our customers provide us with detailed information about their cargo. This is beneficial for our customers as it ensures that they are getting the most value for the service they are paying for.

The following details are very important for us to know as they make up the structure for the best rates customers can get.
  • Carrier costs

Seasons of the year, popularity of the route, distance, disruptions along the route such as blockages, man-made or natural phenomena, and other economic movements like rising fuel costs in air freight are just a few of the variables affecting carrier costs. Rate fluctuations differ as seasons dictate the volume of supply and demand, and even the types of products that are in demand for that season.
“Today, some of the biggest challenges in the air cargo sector are the: rising fuel costs, the industry’s overcapacity and navigating the new regulations.” – Kinan Al Alami, RSA National
  • Commodity or cargo details

What are the products that I can and cannot send through air or sea cargo? Are there additional requirements or charges for products like perfume?

Freight forwarding costs are also associated with the types of products customers want to ship. Providing transparent cargo details is mandatory for the safety of all the goods in the cargo.

In both air and sea cargo, products that fall under one of the following broad categories are considered as “Dangerous Goods” (DG) and require special safety certification and/or inspections. These categories are: gases, flammable liquids and solids such as perfume, toxic or corrosive items (corrosive chemicals, batteries, etc.) or biochemical products (plant growth regulators, etc.).

List of dangerous goods in freight Source: https://www.allianceairlines.com.au/when-we-fly/dangerous-goods 

Commodities that require special handling will incur more fees than other products.

  • Weight and volume

Are there weight or size restrictions for air or sea cargo? What is the optimum dimension or weight for my cargo?

The weight or volume of your shipment is a main factor in determining the rate for your shipment. There are two weights that freight forwarders need to know about: the actual weight and the volumetric weight.

Whichever of the two numbers is higher will be considered as the chargeable weight. In some cases, you might find that products that are light in weight but take up a lot of space might end up being more expensive than small but compact ones.

We always advice our clients about the optimum size and weight for each cargo ensuring that they receive an economical rate.

  • Value-added services (VAS)

Do you also provide packaging services, certification and inspection, documentation assistance, insurance application, and storage?

One key advantage of partnering up with a professional freight forwarder is the availability of value-added services that they can offer under one roof. Customers will have less things to worry about as services like packaging, documentation, insurance, certification, compliance requirements and even storage can be done by freight forwarders. However, these services are important cost factors to consider achieving greater efficiency and ease in communication. 

Documentation

  • What are the documents I need to submit to send my shipment?
Proper documentation is one of the main factors that determine how fast a shipment can move from one point to another. This is the part where shippers or product owners sometimes experience delays when there is a lapse in the documentation process. This is one of the very important questions our customers usually  ask us and is one of the things that we, as a freight forwarder, need to openly discuss with our customers to avoid unnecessary delays.

Here are the basic documentation requirements needed for international freight:
  • Invoices

Commercial invoices are an important document for both the seller (exporter) and buyer (importer) as it stands as a proof of trade between the two parties. In freight forwarding perspective, it is also an important requirement as this is where the prices, value and quantity of the items are indicated and are used for customs clearances when the computing the duties and taxes.   

  • Packing list

The invoice and packing list may have very similar content but are used for different purposes. The packing list serves as the reference for the physical description (quantity, weight, and dimensions) of the items shipped. This document is referred to when checking the items received by the consignee comparing it to what’s inside the cargo. This is mainly used for logistics purposes, which, in contrast to an invoice, is used for financial reference and settlements.

  • Bill of Lading

AWB or Airway Bill of Lading for air cargo
Ocean or Seaway Bill of Lading for ocean cargo

Bill of lading is the receipt of the freight services and carries the terms and conditions of the carriage of the goods. It is an important document that the buyer (consignee) needs to request the release of the cargo as it also stands for the title of ownership. A bill of lading contains the following details:
  • Name and address of the freight forwarding company and the shipper or the consignee
  • Mode of transportation
  • Place of origin (or where the items are loaded) and destination
  • Terms of shipment
  • Description of the items being carried

  • Dangerous Goods Certificate

When shipping dangerous goods via air cargo, it is necessary to present a Dangerous Goods Certificate which can be obtained with the help of a certified Dangerous Goods Consultant/Agent. Otherwise, ask your freight forwarding partner if they can arrange for the inspection and certification of the products on your behalf, saving your time and effort. 
Sample of a dangerous goods certificateExample of a Dangerous Goods Declaration

Technology

  • How can I track my shipment?
Being able to track and trace the shipments gives customers the visibility and real-time updates about their products. 

At RSA Global, as part of our Click Eco-system, we have developed ClickSC, our Freight Management System, enabling customers  to request for quotes, book their freight for transit and, most importantly, track and trace their shipments. This digital tool is integrated with the other Click Eco-System platforms - ClickRF for road freight and ClickWM for warehouse management allowing access to a more efficient and transparent supply chain with just a few clicks.
Freight management platform ClickSC

Freight Forwarding in Dubai

Backed by business-friendly legislations, Dubai has undoubtedly established itself as a known trade hub where capabilities in air, sea and land transportation are becoming more competitive and innovative.

Partnering with a reliable freight forwarder lets businesses enjoy value-added services and exclusive perks from their established network and business contacts.

  • Freight forwarders have locked in exclusive rates with carriers which protects them from sudden fluctuations in the market.
  • Freight forwarders have extensive networks of business contacts enabling them to arrange everything from documentation, route planning, providing the insurance, properly packaging the items according to regulations, clearances and issuance of the required inspection certification for different kinds of products.
  • Freight forwarders have the complete setup to support any additional requirement from the customer such as warehousing or storage solutions.

RSA Global is amongst the top freight forwarding companies in the UAE offering integrated, customized and cost-effective shipping solutions through our premium network of air and sea carriers. This enables multimodal and cross-border shipping with maximum effectiveness. Powered by our freight management system, ClickSC, our customers can experience a new form of digital efficiency and end-to-end visibility from requesting for a quotation to receiving the shipment right at their door step.
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