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How do you know if your freight quote is really giving you the best deal? When interpreting freight quotes, it is important to know what to look for, because the figures aren’t always as straightforward as they seem. For example, freight companies do not always include all freight costs in the final quote. Sometimes specific services are only offered at additional fees, and certain costs might be estimates rather than exact figures. Additionally, several other factors might lead to a higher final bill than anticipated.

Remember:  The goal is to obtain a 1) comprehensive freight quote that is 2) as close as possible to the total freight cost you will be paying.

Here are our tips to help you obtain the most comprehensive freight quotes, and compare them with confidence:

Consider the whole logistics chain

Make sure the quote covers all the charges your incoterm requires. The transport section of freight quotes consists of the following charges:

  • Country of origin transport and freight costs. This should typically include details such as collection at the seller’s premises, freight handling costs, costs for loading cargo onto the boat/plane, port fees, etc.
  • Country of origin to country of destination transport costs. This consists of the airline or shipping line fees.
  • Country of destination transport and freight costs. This should stipulate details such as delivery at the seller’s premises, freight handling costs, costs of offloading the cargo from the boat/plane, port fees, etc.

Don’t forget VAT and tax

A significant portion of import costs consists of the VAT and import duty tax that must be paid at customs when taking delivery of goods. Your freight company normally pays this on your behalf and adds the amount to your invoice. To avoid any surprises, make sure that VAT and import duty tax are included in your quote.

Remember: The amount of VAT and duty tax charged at customs depends on the HS code used. Make sure that your freight agent uses the correct code.

Find out about freight agent fees

Freight agencies charge a fee for managing your shipment from point A to B. They are responsible for booking, tracking, managing, and clearing the shipment. The majority of your freight quote should consist not of agency fees, but fees payable to the companies involved in handling and transporting the shipment (e.g. shipping lines, trucking companies, customs and port authorities). If the freight company is reputable, it will list service fees separately as an “agency fee”.

Note:  In addition to agency fees, some freight companies may add a fee for clearing the shipment and processing documentation.

Ask about other costs

Sometimes, freight quotes will also include the following costs:

  • International shipping insurance (Note: Purchasing insurance is the only way to fully ensure that you have a right to claim damages. This may be paid by the seller, depending on the HS code you use. Insurance costs are usually calculated based on the amount it would cost to have the entire shipment replaced).
  • Packing materials
  • Pre-shipment inspections

Landed cost: The landed cost of a shipment is the total price you will pay to get your goods to their final destination. It includes the original product price, freight fees, customs fees, duties, tariffs, taxes, insurance, currency conversion rates, and other miscellaneous costs. Our landed cost calculator can help you calculate the total cost of your shipment.

At Import Export License, we want you to be aware of all the costs involved in getting your cargo from A to B. That is why we make it our duty to give our clients comprehensive freight quotes. We are passionate about saving our clients time and money by offering cost-effective, efficient freight solutions.

If you would like to be put in contact with a freight expert, fill out this form, or contact us on 087 550 1038.

Tracy Venter

Tracy transitioned from industry to founding Import Export License in 2011, aiding importers and exporters with customs compliance. In 2014, she launched Trade Logistics, focusing on supporting startups and SMMEs in international trade. Since then, Tracy's team has assisted 35,000+ businesses, reaching 32,000 traders monthly through newsletters. She's contributed to publications like Entrepreneurs Magazine and SME Toolkit, spoken at trade events, and participated in customs forums. Import Export License helped with the pilot trial to launch customs' new online registration platform (RLA). Through Trade Logistics she has launched 3 online import-export training courses. She holds an Honours degree from Stellenbosch University and a Cum Laude Masters from Middlesex University. In her spare time, Tracy enjoys running, mountain biking, playing piano, and cherishing moments with her husband and four children.