What Is the Difference Between International & Domestic Freight Forwarders?

Updated on July 18, 2023

International and Domestic Freight Forwarders

Freight forwarding is about arranging things for others. Some people might refer to freight forwarders as intermediaries, others might call them middlemen. Essentially, a freight forwarder is a bridge between the shipper and the carrier. Shippers pay freight forwarders to set up all the details for the goods to be shipped. Also, in many instances, freight forwarders provide a variety of supply chain services. In addition to setting up the transporting of the product, freight forwarders can take care of packing, inventory, and warehousing. 


There are two types of freight forwarders: international and domestic freight forwarders. Domestic freight forwarding deals with the distribution of shipments within a country. Everything — the shipper, the receiver, and the goods — are all within the same boundaries. International freight forwarding involves the movement of products from one country to another. In this blog, we will take a closer look at both international and domestic freight forwarders, which combine to make up a global market size that is nearing $2 billion.

International Freight Forwarders

Shipping internationally usually comes with its fair share of hurdles to overcome and that is why the right international freight forwarder is essential. When transporting goods from one country to another that means you are usually dealing with two sets of everything, from paperwork to regulations. Having an experienced freight forwarding company that understands this complicated world can make the difference between a smooth customs clearance and a long wait that ends up costing a lot of time and money. Let’s take a look at some of the advantages that an international freight forwarder can provide:


  • Acquiring the right freight insurance and looking at liability issues that could come up in the countries the product is going through

  • Preparing all of the customs documentation and making sure that all of the paperwork is compliant with differing regulations from country to country

  • Determining what carrier options would be best for your company or product

  • Keeping abreast of any other documentation needed during the journey

  • Arranging any warehouse facilities that will be needed along the way

  • Easily handling rushed orders that will travel long distances because of the expertise they already have in shipments crossing over country borders

  • Using technology and years of experience to make sure the planning, communication, and negotiating are all covered throughout the shipment’s journey.


One of the key decisions that need to be made with most international shipments is whether to choose ocean freight shipping or air freight transportation. Ocean freight shipping allows you to ship a larger amount of goods but is slower. Air freight is used for smaller shipments, but has the benefit of being faster and more reliable. The drawback is that it is much more expensive and there are much stronger regulations on what can be air shipped. This is one of the many areas where freight forwarding partners can shine. They have the knowledge and the contacts to be able to discern which mode is the best for you and which lanes or flights are the ideal ones to use to transport your shipment.

Domestic Freight Forwarding 

While domestic freight forwarding is not usually as complicated as the international version, it does need an expert hand to guide it. Here are some of the ways that domestic freight forwarders can make your life easier: 


  • Specialized assistance when handling intra- or interstate transportation

  • Providing help with finding another mode of transport when existing carriers lack capacity

  • Having the experience to assess and work with a wide range of cargo types and shipment methods to ensure your delivery is on time and in good condition.

  • Using years of knowledge about regulations to make sure crossing state lines is not a problem.

Comparing International and Domestic Freight Forwarding 

The main difference between international and domestic freight forwarders is obviously where the shipment is going, but let’s take a look at what each offers when it comes to three specific categories.


With domestic freight forwarding, there are the usual costs associated with shipping a product — transportation, manpower, technology, and storage facilities. Occasionally, there might be  fees associated with where the product is shipped. With international freight forwarding, there are those costs mentioned above, which are usually higher because the shipments are going greater distances. But there are quite a few other expenditures to figure in — tariffs, taxes, currency exchange, and fee fluctuations.

Time Frame

Domestic freight forwarding usually has the advantage over international freight forwarding when it comes to time frame simply because most of the shipping distances within a country are shorter than those to other countries, especially when those shipments go overseas. With international shipping, air freight can get products there faster, but there is still the time element of how long it takes to get through customs. That time frame is even longer when you are using   ocean freight shipping.


When using a reliable freight forwarder for either domestic or international, you can expect all of the services that are needed to make a shipment reach its correct destination in a safe and timely manner. But with international shipping, many more services are offered because the shipment will have to go through additional procedures that need to be taken care of by the freight forwarder.

To Enter a New World of Shipping, Team Up with Freightmango

Both international and domestic freight forwarders are vital cogs in the shipping industry. They provide services that combine quality and experience to make the transporting of products much easier for shippers. No matter where a product is being shipped, there can be hindrances that need to be dealt with and having a freight forwarder to assist you can make things much easier. Freightmango can help with that as the first managed freight marketplace that lets you search, find, book, pay or finance your imports and exports in seconds. Freightmango’s international logistics shipping marketplace will always make shipping full container and less-than-container loads easier for you and provide you with a round-the-clock, fully digital online service in which you can keep track of your shipment at any time. To get a freight quote or check out our services, visit our website today.

Connect with us

Anything you need we are here to help

Ready to ship?

Seach, compare rates for imports and exports in seconds.

Book now  

Sales enquiries

Have questions in mind? Contact us for any shipment related queries.

Enquire now  

You may also like