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Penny Ricas

A conversation with ...
A Freight Forwarder or Customs Broker, Penny Ricas

Explore Port Careers

All about...
Freight Forwarding
and Customs Brokerages

What a freight forwarder does. . .

You can think of freight forwarders as travel agents for goods that are sent to another country.  When people want to send products to other countries, the freight forwarder helps. They book space for their goods to be shipped, fill out the paperwork the government requires for exports, arrange for insurance for the products, arrange for the products to be packed, and see them through export clearance procedures. 

Customs brokers have the same kind of job as do freight forwarders, but they must be licensed.  However, customs brokers only handle goods coming into this country (imports).  Freight forwarders handle goods leaving this country (exports). The two often work together and with federal agencies such as Customs and Border Protection to make sure goods enter and leave this country safely.

Career Tidbits

  • The Maryland Port Administration has identified careers in freight forwarding as positions where a young person out of high school would most likely find a job at the Port.
  • In this country, freight forwarders have to be licensed to handle goods by either the Federal Maritime Commission (if the goods are traveling by boat) or the International Air Transport Association (if they are traveling by air.)
  • Custom House Brokers must understand all documentation and be licensed by the federal government.

A freight forwarder or customs broker typically has:

These skills and abilities:
Strong interpersonal, communication, and customer relations skills, the ability to build and maintain professional relationships, business and office management skills

This knowledge:

  • Principles and methods of moving goods between countries, including the costs and benefits of each
  • National and international regulations of shipping cargo and customs procedures throughout the world
  • The ways computer technology can improve job performance and customer satisfaction

This training:
Customs brokers must take and pass a specific course to prepare to be licensed.  The test is given twice a year.

This education:
Although this position does not require a high school diploma, it is strongly recommend.  In fact, courses at the college level, especially in business management and mathematics, will help prepare one for this career. 

Freight forwarders are a crucial part of the shipping industry…

Find out about other careers at the Port.