When transporting any large shipment overseas, it’s essential to hire a third-party transportation company that you can trust. There’s often a lot of confusion over what kind of company can handle different types of shipping. Today we’re going to discuss the 5 differences between a freight forwarder and a moving company. By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of what type of shipping company is best for your particular situation.

1. Movers (generally) handle ground-only shipping

Moving companies are great for moving your personal effects, particularly when they don’t have to cross any national borders. A moving company can pack, prepare, and load your goods into trucks or shipping containers for international shipping. However, when it comes to actually shipping internationally, most movers will call on the services of a freight forwarder to broker an international freight transporter.

2. Movers usually hand off international shipping to a Third-Party Logistics Company

The mover will attach the freight forwarder’s fee to your final bill, often with a mark-up so they can profit from coordinating the shipment with another vendor. Now, some freight forwarders will offer moving services themselves, but it’s important to investigate and make sure they’re not just brokering an outside moving company to handle the packing, loading, and inland moving.

3. Freight Forwarders handle international regulations and paperwork

The hardest part of international moving, believe it or not, isn’t the distance. Your shipment will pass through many regulatory checkpoints, and must comply with the constantly-changing requirements of maritime and customs authorities as it travels from origin to destination. A logistics company has the knowledge and experience to navigate those challenges.

4. Logistics Companies are licensed

The Federal Maritime Commission regulates imports and exports and licenses these companies to help with all of the permitting and paperwork involved with international shipping. Movers are typically not licensed unless they also provide specialized services, which is rare. Logistics companies make sure you hold all the necessary permits and bonds to ship internationally.

5. Movers (generally) handle personal items

In general, but by no means without exception, movers ship personal or residential items and freight forwarders handle commercial goods. So, if you are simply moving your personal effects from one country to another, you may be able to get by with just an international mover, but always make sure they have international packing experience. Even so, you may still need a freight forwarder to handle all of the customs requirements and permitting required for international shipping.