How to Get a Freight Rate Quote

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If you’re planning to ship internationally, then you need to get an accurate freight rate quote. Determining how much shipping will cost you is an important part of importing and exporting.

The amount of information you can provide to your freight forwarder determines the accuracy of your quote. Here’s the information you need so you don’t have to guess regarding your freight rate pricing:

How to Get a Freight Rate Quote

The Contents of the Shipment

No, you can’t just tell the freight forwarder that your shipment weights a certain amount and expect an accurate quote in return. Many shippers try to do this, but you have to provide details about what you’re shipping if you want an accurate quote.

Here’s the thing – there are rules and guidelines that apply to certain types of items. For example, the rules for shipping lumber are different than the rules for shipping wooden furniture, because household goods have different insurance regulations and are shipped by different carriers.

The contents of your shipment determine several factors regarding how it is shipped, including the carriers that will handle your shipment, the shipping container, and whether it goes by air or ocean freight. These, consequently, affect the price and time frame of your shipment.

Shipment Size and Weight

While you want to have the size and weight of your shipment for the most accurate quote, the information you need also depends on the type of shipment.

For air freight shipments, both the size and the weight of the shipment factors into your shipping cost. For ocean freight shipments, size usually determines the shipping cost, because you’re shipping in a container.

If your shipment doesn’t require the entire container (which is referred to as LCL, or less than a container load), then you pay by the cubic meter. In certain situations, you may have to pay more for an ocean freight shipment for shipments that weigh quite a bit (for example, heavy machinery).

The Origin and Destination of the Shipment

You need to know where your shipment is starting out and where it is going to get the most accurate price quote. Common shipping options for imports and exports are door to door, door to port, port to door, and port to port. Exact addresses are best when you want to figure out your shipping costs.

If your shipment is being picked up or dropped off at a door, keep in mind that residential areas don’t always permit shipping trucks.

Prices Change Rapidly with Freight Shipping

If you haven’t shipped internationally before, it’s important to realize that shipping rates can change at a moment’s notice. The largest shippers don’t have to worry about this because of their shipment sizes, but everyone else is looking for a spot on a carrier’s ship, and those spot prices aren’t constant.

The standard time frame that a freight rate price quote lasts for is typically 30 days. You can start talking to a freight forwarder much earlier to get a general idea of what to expect and to set up your budget. Just remember that you can’t obtain your quote until within a month of your shipment date.


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