Logistics: How to get my product from origin to destination

What are logistics?

Logistics are the processes needed to get your goods or services from their origin to their destination. Logistics goes beyond the mode of transportation. It also includes the legal arrangements, insurance, border requirements, and delivery.

What are the main steps and considerations for goods logistics?

  1. Arrange the sale: The first step for international trade is to arrange the sale. Contracts need to be drawn up (See Incoterms), finance needs to be arranged (See Trade Finance), and shipping needs to be considered (See Transportation and Shipping).
  2. Prepare for export: After a sale is agreed and the terms arranged, the shipment needs to be packed, labelled, and documented appropriately (See Bills of Lading, Rules of Origin, How to read HS Codes, Tariff measures, Non-Tariff measures, Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, Technical Barriers to Trade, and Rules of Origin). Warehousing costs at the port before and after shipping, container types, and potential restrictions for the shipment should be considered.
  3. Prepare for import: Once a shipment has reached its destination, it will need to clear customs before it can be released either to the recipient or for further transportation (See Customs and Border Procedures). Customs clearance can depend significantly on where the goods are being shipped and the type of transportation chosen.
  4. Deliver to buyer: Finally, once the item has cleared customs and been released from storage, the final step requires delivery to the buyer.

What are freight forwarders and other intermediaries and how can they help my business?

Freight forwarders and other intermediaries can significantly reduce the required work for an international transaction. Types of intermediaries include:

  • Customs brokers and clearing agents: These are specialists on customs rules and procedures. They can help ensure import documents are correct and may assist with forwarding arrangements. To find a licensed customs broker, a first step is to search the national customs agency where the import will take place, as they frequently list registered brokers that can be contacted.
  • Freight brokers: They match shipments with land transportation, helping you find a way to get a delivery to its destination on schedule, usually by truck or rail.
  • Ship brokers: They match ship owners with importers or exporters that want to charter a vessel to transport their product.
  • Freight forwarders: They help with all of the above, assuming the entire logistical, legal, and financial responsibility of a shipment. Freight forwarders generally arrange everything from transportation and shipment consolidation to tracking or monitoring and delivery to the final destination. The International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) recent database of validated aviation capability and infrastructure information, OneSource, can be a useful resource for finding freight forwarders.

Where can I learn more? 

The International Trade Centre’s (ITC) SME Academy offers an online course entitled Introduction to International Transport and Logistics.