Understanding Freight Forwarders and NVOCCs

ActivityFFNVOCC
   Freight ForwardersNon Vessel Owning Common Carrier
Shipper/CarrierActs as agent to/for the shippersActs as carrier to the shippers and shipper to the carriers
AssociationsMost recognized and global forwarders belong to an association of freight forwarders called FIATA (International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations)which is considered to be the global voice of freight logisticsThere are no such associations for NVOCCs on a global basis while there may be some localized groupings in different countries.
Shipping documentationIssues their own bill of lading and other shipping documents which is generally based on standardized documentation created by FIATAIssues their own bill of lading which may or may not be based on any global standard.
ContainersUses shipping lines containers and does not own or operate containersSome of the big NVOCCs own and operate their own fleet of containers
WarehousesSome of the big freight forwarders own and operate their own warehouses as a value-added service to their other shipping servicesDo not generally own and operate their own warehouses, however there are some big NVOCCs who also double up as freight forwarders (Expeditors International for example)
NetworksThere are several freight forwarder networks around the world who co-operate as network partners on an exclusive or non-exclusive basis in handling cargo all over the worldSome of the big NVOCCs appoint agents at various ports pretty much like how shipping lines appoint agents at various ports to handle their commercial and operational requirements, especially those that own and operate containers
Agents/PartnersMay act as an agent for NVOCCVery rare to find an NVOCC acting as an agent for a freight forwarder
LiabilitiesTraditional forwarders are covered under freight forwarders liability as set out in the FIATA terms and conditionsTraditional NVOCCs are covered under carrier liability as set out in the FIATA terms and conditions
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