The $1.5 trillion shipping industry is very important for worldwide business, communication, and other fields. Nearly everything you buy will have to pass through a Shipping Agent’s hands at one point or another on its journey to you.

Because of this, it’s extremely important to choose the right shipping agency so all your goods are handled properly without issues arising. Before choosing a Shipping Agent, there are many factors to consider.

Here are some questions you should ask before securing a Shipping Agent to help ship your cargo.

What Certifications and Licenses Do You Hold?

Shipping Agents should be required to have the proper documents to ensure they’re legally allowed to perform their services. You can check with your regional authorities or ask potential Shipping Agents for copies of their certificates and licenses. It’s imperative to make certain they’re qualified and authorized to perform services in your area.

How Long Have You Been in Business?

Experience is important when choosing a shipper, as it means they’ll likely understand the process and know the intricacies of the industry. They’ll understand the laws and regulations of shipping various types of cargo.

Even better, given their length of time in the business, they may have strong industry connections that allow a seamless shipping process, making things easier for you.

Look for an Agent with at least a few years experience in the field. This will help ensure your goods won’t end up lost, damaged, undelivered or affected by inexperience or lack of knowledge about the shipping process.

What Methods of Shipment Do You Specialize in?

Shipping is a very complex business, and there are many different types of services provided. Each depends on the cargo’s size, weight, value, destination, country/region/state, and more.

Make sure your Agent specializes in the kind of service you need to ship your goods. This means they’ll have experience with this particular type of service and know the ins and outs of it.

Where Can I View a List of References From Previous Customers?

Choose an Agent who is happy to provide references from past clients. Ask for contact details so you can speak to those references directly. These people will be able to tell you about their experiences with this Agent and whether or not they were happy with the service.

You’ll gain insight into their professionalism, competency, reliability, and trustworthiness. You should also look at the Agent’s online customer reviews where possible to get a better idea of their level of customer service.

What Is Your Best Offer for Shipping My Goods?

Shipping Agents have different shipping costs based on volume, weight, size, and country/region/state of origin. Ensure you ask for this information before signing contracts or agreements.

Compare prices to understand what is available.  You’ll get a complete picture of what each agency has to offer and gain insight into competitive pricing and avoid being overcharged.

The price, of course, should depend on the level of services offered as well as the quality of services expected. Cheaper prices may not provide the quality of service you require.   Choose a reasonable price for the services you expect.

How Soon Can You Begin Shipping My Goods?

Some services and destinations require more lead time than others. If the service you need cannot begin immediately, it may affect your schedule for moving or shipping your cargo.

Ask your Agent how soon they can start shipping your goods to ensure they can meet any deadlines you have set.

What Documentation Do I Need to Provide Before Shipping My Goods?

There are many different documents both the shipper and the recipient need to facilitate a smooth delivery. Some documents may also need to come from a third party, such as an insurer.

Make sure you know what documentation your Agent requires so you can provide them with it before they begin working on your shipment.

Which Types of Cargo Insurance Do You Offer?

There are many different companies that provide cargo insurance for goods being shipped. Each company has its requirements about what types of services or goods they will insure.

Ask your Agent to discuss providers and define requirements before shipping.  

Have You Dealt With Shipments To/From My State Before?

Different countries, regions, and states have different requirements for shipping goods. It’s important your Agent knows these rules inside and out so they can provide the best service possible.

Ask the Shipping Agent if they have worked with shipments to your destination. This will assist you in knowing if they are aware of necessary protocols.

What Should I Expect After My Shipment Has Arrived at Its Destination?

Shipping does not end when your goods reach their final destination.  Your Shipping Agent should be able to provide you with information about what happens next.

How Do I Go About Filing a Complaint if Necessary?

Like all businesses, shipping agencies sometimes make errors or don’t meet customer expectations. If this happens during an international shipment, different bodies handle disputes depending on how you shipped your goods.

Make sure you know how to resolve complaints with your Shipping Agent in the event something does not go as expected.  Inquire about how they handle disputes so you will be prepared for anything that might happen.

Is There Anything Else I Need to Know Before Signing the Contract?

Finally, ask your Shipping Agent for any additional information that might be relevant or helpful. This could include anything from insurance rates and costs to certain types of cargo they don’t handle.  

Experienced Shipping Agents should not hesitate to share important information with you. It will help you make an informed decision about what kind of shipping services are right for your cargo.

The Ultimate Shipping Agent Guide: Top Shipping Questions to Ask

If you’re looking for a Professional Shipping Agent, these tips will help you find the best.  Ensure you ask all questions to all Agents you interview.  

Make sure you find a Shipping Agent that can serve you for years to come. If you are currently looking for an experienced Shipping/Independent Freight Agent to move your goods, please get in touch with us, and we’ll discuss the intricacies of your shipping needs.