Are Freight Forwarders And Customs Brokers The Same?


Double Rainbow - Freight Forwarder Customs Brokerage

There is a difference between Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers, but often they can perform the same role for the client.

What Is A Freight Forwarder?

Transporting goods from their production site to the final destination can be a complex undertaking. Freight Forwarders concentrate on the logistics and physical transportation of cargo internationally. Logistically, Freight Forwarders are multi-modal and they arrange for the transportation of a shipment via truck, plane, ship or combination thereof. Generally the Freight Forwarder acts as the “travel agent” for their client to move their cargo and facilitate the entire trip to include paperwork and documentation.

Freight Forwarding is one of the common activities within the Canadian logistics industry and as globalization continues to grow so does this industry. Most international Freight Forwarders in Canada are members of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA), which is an internationally recognized professional association. Always verify that that your Freight Forwarder is a member of CIFFA. Members are required to carry minimum liability insurance coverage and must adhere to standard trading practices and responsibilities for Freight Forwarders.

In addition to arranging transport for the goods, Freight Forwarders can also offer services which include:

  • Customs entry clearance
  • Trade documentation
  • Insurance maintenance, and
  • Supply chain management

Be sure when selecting a Freight Forwarder that you are clear on what they offer for services and what they charge for those services.

What Is A Customs Broker?

A Customs Broker can be an individual, partnership, association or corporation licensed, regulated and empowered by the government of the country in which the goods are being imported. Generally Brokers submit the necessary information and make the appropriate payments to the government on behalf of their clients. They must have expertise in the entry procedures, admissibility requirements for all the various government departments and agencies, classification of the goods, valuation and the rates of duty and applicable taxes and fees for the goods to be imported. Customs Brokers can recommend to their clients the most efficient means for clearing goods through the red tape of governmental entry rules and regulations.

In addition to the tasks aforementioned, Customs Brokers can assist with:

  • The coordination of Customs exams
  • Customs bonds
  • Duty drawbacks and reconciliation
  • Advice and guidance with government audits.

Some Customs Brokers offer Freight Forwarding services in addition to storage of goods.

Are Freight Forwarders And Customs Brokers The Same?

Often the role of the Freight Forwarder and the Customs Broker can overlap and be interchangeable.

For the importer or exporter it is important to understand the role of the representative you choose with respect to:

  • Negotiating the freight
  • Overseeing the shipping schedules
  • Mode of transport
  • Who will be overseeing the necessary import documentation
  • The clearance process with the applicable Customs agency

In addition, you need to be diligent your representative is an expert in ensuring that shipments are compliant and move as smoothly and efficiently as possible from origin to destination.

Pacific Customs Brokers And PCB Freight Management

Pacific Customs Brokers offers brokerage services into Canada and the United States. While PCB Freight Management offers transportation logistics and storage of your shipments. If you need assistance with Customs Brokerage or Freight Forwarding do not hesitate to contact our team for service with experience.


A Beginner’s Guide To Ocean Freight Container Shipping


Ocean Freight Terms and Abbreviations

Terms, codes, and abbreviations define many industries. Ocean Freight container shipping is no different. One of the most difficult things to navigate in ocean shipping is understanding the basic everyday terms experienced professionals take for granted. For people new to the ocean freight industry this can be as confusing as rocket science. So without further adieu, here is a guide for new shippers to ocean freight terms and abbreviations.


CY/CY means Container Yard to Container Yard. This is when the ocean carrier is contracted to ship the container from their designated container yard at origin, to their designated container yard at destination. All costs for transport to and from these container yards are not included in the contracted price.


Similar to CY/CY, the term Port/Port (or sometimes read as “Port to Port”) means that the ocean carrier is contracted to move the container from the port of loading to the port of discharge. All costs for transport to and from these ports, including terminal charges, are not included in the contracted price.


The abbreviation FCL stands for Full Container Load. Shippers who contract under FCL terms will pay term for the entire container movement from point to point. A FCL container will have one shipper per container.


The abbreviation LCL stands for Less than Container Load. Sometimes a shipper will not need a full container. In these cases, the shipper will book a portion of the container or LCL. Under these terms the shipper is charged for only that portion of the container the freight uses. In most cases the cost of shipping LCL is significantly less than a full box. However, there are other shippers in the container, and LCL shipping tends to take more time, as there is coordination with multiple shippers to fill an entire container.

Free In/Free Out

A shipping term most commonly used in the Mediterranean. Shippers who contract under Free In/Free Out terms are responsible for all terminal charges at both ends. The ocean carrier is simply contracted to ship the container from one port to another. Unlike Port/Port terms, Free In/Free Out states clearly that the shipper must pay terminal charges.

Liner Terms

Liner Terms are most commonly used when carriers contract space amongst each other, a shipper who has contracted liner terms with the carrier is not responsible for any terminal handling charges. The terms of contract will cover all port charges at origin and destination.


General Purpose and Standard (both abbreviations) refer to the size and type of container.  Standard container sizes are 20’ and 40’ with a height of 8’6”. Standard or general purpose containers are able to carry cargo that does not require protection from heat or cold, or needs to be kept cool or frozen. All containers are 8’ in width. Naturally, the 20’ container will cost less than the 40’, however, it is not half the cost. Trades are different in how they price the 20’ box, however, a general rule of thumb is 75% of the cost of the 40’.


Hi Cube Containers are similar to standard container except they are 9’6” in height. As they are larger, they generally cost slightly more to ship than standard containers, but not in all cases. Several trades today price 40’ HC containers the same as the 40’ Standard.

45’, H5’

In very specific trades, ocean carriers will offer 45’ containers. These containers are 45’ in length and have a height of 9’6”. The additional cost of shipping a 45’ over a standard or Hi Cube can range from 25-30%.


RE and RF are abbreviations for refrigerated containers. Refrigerated containers are in 20’ and 40’ HC sizes. They are built to keep products frozen, cool or heated for several weeks at a time. Technology in refrigeration has advanced over recent years to the point that variations in container temperature are rare once the unit temperature has been set. Some refrigerated containers can keep products frozen well below -50 Celcius. However, most frozen product is shipped at -18 to -25 Celcius, while cool products move between -1 and +1 Celcius. The cost to ship a refrigerated container is significantly higher than a standard box.


OT is an abbreviation for open top containers.  As some product requires loading on from the top of the container, shipping lines have produced specialized containers that have the roof removed. In place of that roof is a tarp, which can be removed to allow for top loading, and then reattached to protect the product. Open top containers are generally in limited supply, so the cost of shipping is higher than a standard container. The cost often depends on availability with the individual carrier, so if a shipper does require an open top container, it may be necessary to contact several shipping lines.


FR or Flatrack containers have the sides and roof removed. This allows for side or top loading. Freight moving on Flatrack containers are generally oversized and may be overwidth. Specific types of project cargo generally moves on flatrack containers.

Start Shipping By Ocean

Are you interested in shipping your products by ocean freight? Contact the experienced team at PCB Freight Management today to help you take control of your ocean freight shipping needs.


CPTPP: Trade In The Pacific Rim Is About To Open Up | PCB Blog


The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as discussed in our blog post What Does CPTPP Stand For? | CPTPP FAQ is a new free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.


The last Pacific Rim Trade deal went dead two years ago when the U.S. withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. All original TPP signatories, with the exception of the U.S., agreed to revive the TPP and reached an agreement in January 2018 to move towards the CPTPP.


The agreement specifies that its provisions enter into effect 60 days after the ratification by at least 50% of the signatories (six of the eleven countries). The sixth country to ratify the deal was Australia on October 31, 2018 and the agreement now coming into force with the initial six countries on December 30, 2018.  The six countries are Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Australia.  The remaining signatories; Brunei, Chili, Malaysia, and Peru will not be bound or benefit from the CPTPP until they ratify.  Vietnam recently signed on, is now a signatory and will start benefiting from the agreement after their 60 days has passed. Peru is expected to ratify before 2019.


Canada is the first and only G7 nation with a free trade agreement with the other six. It is another way Canada hopes to diversify its trade with a longer-term goal of less reliance on the U.S. consumers for Canadian goods and services. Even without the U.S. involvement, the CPTPP represent about 13% of the world’s gross domestic product. Should the U.S. reconsider and join the CPTPP the bloc would represent 40% of the GDP.

Two thirds of the provisions in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership are the same as the TPP draft.

The benefits of the free trade agreement for Canada are best explained in the Government of Canada Overview and Benefits of the CPTPP.


There are two sectors that are not exactly sold on the CPTPP for Canada and they include the auto manufacturers and dairy industry. The Canadian government argues the CPTPP will help Canada retain its strategic advantage for their supply chains over the increasing competitiveness of China.


How Canada will implement this new agreement is contained in Canada Border Services Customs Notice 18-22.


If you have any questions about the implementation of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership please contact a Pacific Customs Broker Trade advisor at 604.538.1566, toll-free at 888.538.1566 or [email protected]

Jan Brock | Author







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What Does CPTPP Stand For? | CPTPP FAQ


What Does CPTPP Stand For?

The CPTPP stands for the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. As of February 2018, CPTPP is a new free trade agreement between Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Who Has Ratified CPTPP?

The countries that have ratified the CPTPP includes:

  • Mexico | June 28, 2018
  • Japan | July 6, 2018
  • Singapore | July 19, 2018
  • New Zealand | Oct 25, 2018
  • Canada | Oct 29, 2018
  • Australia | Oct 31, 2018
  • Vietnam | November

Who Has Not Ratified?

  • Peru | Expected before 2019
  • Brunei
  • Chile
  • Malaysia

When Does It Start?

Since 6 of the countries have ratified, CPTPP will start on Dec 30th, 2018. For all of the countries that have ratified, they will be able to start using the agreement on Dec 30th. For the rest of the countries who have yet to ratify, the agreement will come into force for them 60 days after that country ratifies and deposits as well.

When Was It Signed?

The CPTPP was signed on March 8th, 2018, in Santiago, Chile.

When Will CPTPP Come Into Force?

The CPTPP will come into force on Dec 30th, 2018, which would mean 2018 is year 1 and 2019 is year 2. Which means faster duty reductions. The “years” for the agreement run from Jan 1 – Dec 31.

Who Can Use The CPTPP Agreement?

The agreement can only be used by the countries that have ratified the agreement.

For example, since Canada is ratified but Malaysia is not, Canada and Malaysia are not able to use the agreement with each other until Malaysia ratifies and the 60 days has passed.

What Are The Benefits?

Approximately 98% of the customs duties will be removed at the time of final implementation. Once CPTPP comes into force, many commodities will be duty free upon entry. The elimination of tariffs will depend on the staging category. Some items will have the duty reduced faster than others. A few commodities will not be reduced at all.

Are You Prepared For The Agreement?

The CPTPP agreement will affect the world of trade. Are you prepared for the new CPTPP agreement? You can learn about the rules of origin, regional value content, de minimis, and more from an expert trade advisor from Pacific Customs Brokers. Contact one of our experienced trade advisors today for your trade edge.





Sign Up for PCB's Newsletter | CPTPP


Attention Seafood Importers | New SIMP Regulations Effective January 2019

Seafood Importers

On January 1st, 2019, the Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP) will change.

Do your Seafood Imports fall under the new SIMP regulations?

Your import will be regulated by SIMP if you import any of the following products:

  • Atlantic Cod
  • Blue Crab (Atlantic Crab)
  • Dolphinfish (Mahi Mahi)
  • Grouper
  • King Crab (Red Crab)
  • Pacific Cod
  • Red Snapper
  • Sea Cucumber
  • Sharks
  • Shrimp*
  • Swordfish and Tunas (Albacore, Bigeye, Skipjack, Yellowfin, and Bluefin)
  • Abalone*

*Abalone and Shrimp will now be required to report as of January 1st, 2019.

When does SIMP reporting become mandatory?

The effective date for SIMP is Monday January 1st, 2018. The effective date for SIMP regarding Abalone and Shrimp is January 1st, 2019.

Are U.S. goods that are exported and returned exempt from SIMP?

U.S. goods are NOT exempt from SIMP. It is a safe precaution to obtain required information for even your U.S. goods, as it is hard to foresee if they will leave the country and then be re-entered.  

Is there an official form to be completed for SIMP?

No, there is no official form to be completed for your imports under SIMP. There is a model catch certificate that, when completed, will provide all of the necessary information required to file your entry. We strongly suggest using this template to avoid shipment delays.

Who must obtain the International Fisheries Trade Permit (IFTP) required to file SIMP?

Under the rules and regulations of SIMP, to apply for the IFTP you must be a U.S. Resident. This does not mean that a foreign importer cannot clear goods regulated under SIMP, it simply means they will require to have a company or individual in the U.S. obtain a permit on their behalf and act as their permittee. The permittee must be listed as such on the U.S. Customs invoice, and under SIMP will be considered to be the Importer of Record (IOR). The IFTP holder is responsible for obtaining and retaining all required documents and information required under SIMP at the time of import.

The IOR under SIMP is not the same as the IOR for U.S. Customs purposes. The non-resident company can still act as the IOR with U.S. Customs, clearing the entry under their name and bond. However, the SIMP information and permit (held by the SIMP IOR) must be a U.S. Company. You can apply for your permit on the IFTP website.

Who is legally responsible for goods imported under SIMP?

The entity responsible for retaining and providing the required documentation is the permit holder, also referred to as the Importer of Record under SIMP.  The party that holds the International Fisheries Trade Permit is responsible for having all information required under SIMP readily available upon request at the time of import into the U.S.

What additional information am I required to report on my shipments to the U.S.?

  1. Three letter Alpha Code that represents the Genus and Species of your product must be listed on the catch certificate. The spreadsheet to obtain the appropriate Alpha Code can be accessed here
  2. Name and Flag State in which the vessel is registered. The Flag State is the country the vessel is registered under and must be listed on the catch certificate
  3. Evidence of authorization to fish – For example, your License to Fish or Business Number
  4. Vessel Identifier – IMO number (International Marine Organization)
  5. Fishing Gear Used. For example Longline, Handline pole etc…
  6. Landing Date
  7. Product form, quantity and weight at time of landing
  8. Area of harvest or capture
  9. Point of first landing
  10. The Receiver at time of landing

Can I start sending the information on my Shrimp and Abalone shipments now?

Yes, you are encouraged to start complying with the regulation on shrimp and abalone now so the transition into mandatory reporting will be seamless.

If my goods are subject to NOAA Form 370 reporting am I still required to report under the SIMP regulations?

Yes, goods subject under NOAA Form 370 will also be subject to SIMP reporting starting January 1st, 2018. Some of the information on the NOAA Form 370, will apply to SIMP as well. It is a good idea to cross reference the catch certificate with your NOAA Form 370 to make sure all of the information is completed and you are compliant with both program requirements.

If my goods qualify as a Section 321, do I still have to file an entry?

Due to limitations with U.S. Customs software, all goods that require SIMP reporting will require a formal entry, Section 321’s will not be allowed.

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