Freight Forwarder Documentation That Domestic Auto Transport Service Providers

Freight Forwarder Documentation That Domestic Auto Transport Service Providers Ought To Know
If you have hired a domestic auto transport service provider to handle your international freight, then there is certain documentation that needs to be furnished to the customs.

Compliance information filing is an important trade activity. Freight forwarders do compliance information filing as do auto transport brokers.
Failure to file accurate compliance details results in hefty fines. The fine payments are not levied on the customer. It is borne on the international freight forwarder or auto carrier. Generally, the domestic auto transport company you hire for the purpose only relays your freight forwarding efforts to other supply chain constituents.

Why documentation is important for exporters

Providing accurate documentation is important for freight forwarders to move all type of cargo internationally. When domestic auto transport companies engage with exporters, the latter do not understand the importance of compliance filing. Exporters should give freight forwarders a free hand in export documentation. This is because freight forwarders have the people, process, and technology for complex export compliance filing and documentation.

Export documentation varies from country to country. What may be needed by the United States may not be needed in Australia. But generally, there are some common widely accepted export documentation requirements.

Common Export Documentation Requirements

Bill of Lading

A bill of lading is a legal binding and understanding between the goods owner and the auto transport carrier. There are two types of this document – the straight bill of lading and shipper’s order bill of lading. The difference is that the former is non-negotiable. The latter can be negotiated when the cargo is in transit. The domestic auto transport carrier can buy, sell or trade this document.

Certificate of Origin

A certificate of origin is a signed and verified document stating the origin of the goods being exported. Certain countries have sanctions or a no-trade policy between other countries. If the product or any of its components is manufactured in such a country, the importing country will impose certain criteria. It could be additional duties, or total non-export of the product.

Certificate of Origin is signed by the local government agencies such as the Chamber of Commerce. Certificate of Origin is a mandatory document and cannot be superseded by the invoice; even though the invoice may enclose all relevant details regarding the product’s origin.

Commercial Invoice

The vendor prepares a commercial invoice and sends it to the purchaser. The invoice declares the products being exported, their prices, and other associated details. Governments use the invoice to understand if the price of cargo is authentic.

Government agencies such as the customs levy charges based on the value of the goods as specified in the commercial invoice. Certain countries have preferences to the commercial invoice format, language and structure. Domestic auto transport freight forwarders are generally aware of this.

Consular Invoice

Only certain countries may require this document. The consular invoice has additional details regarding the exported cargo. The consulate official authenticates this document. The United States customs uses consular invoice to validate the value and nature of cargo.

Export Declaration

This is used extensively by the United States government to control exports and also assess export statistics. Shipper’s Export Declaration is mandatory compliance documentation filing for all consignment moving as export from the United States. Domestic auto transport shippers use freight forwarder services to file this documentation. Export declarations are generally needed for cargo priced over two thousand five hundred dollars.

The above-mentioned list states only some of the common documentation requirements. You may consult the freight forward to get the complete list. The domestic auto transport carrier you engaged should do this for you.

Rail Shipping: Coal Is Down; Oil, Cars & Lumber Up

Here’s some interesting data from this week’s report on U.S. rail traffic from the American Association of Railroads:

1. On a year-to-date (YTD) basis through the week ending August 11, total rail volume of 9,005,952 carloads this year is down by 2.4% compared to last year’s loadings of 9,231,927 carloads from January through mid-August.

2. Of the 20 different categories of carload shipments, coal totally dominates this type of rail shipping, and made up 44% of the shipping activity in 2011 from January to mid-August.  This year, coal shipments represented about 41% of total rail car loadings.

3. Due in part to the switch from coal to natural gas for electric power generation, coal shipments by rail YTD in 2012 are down by 9.4%, from 4,075,000 carloads of coal last year to 3,693,000 this year from January-August.

4. If we take out coal shipments, rail carload volume is actually up by 3% this year for the other 19 categories, close to the 3.6% YTD increase in the intermodal form of rail shipping for trailers and containers (Note: intermodal shipments are not broken down by category).

Bottom Line: Coal shipments by rail exert a huge influence on overall rail carload volume because coal’s share of total shipping by rail is so high (41-44%).  Therefore, it’s only because of the decline in coal shipments this year that overall rail carload volume has fallen.  Take out coal shipments, and carload volume then shows a healthy 3% increase.  Along with the 3.6% increase in intermodal volume, the overall increase in non-coal shipments this year presents a much more positive picture of the amount of inputs, raw materials, commodities, chemicals, vehicles, parts, products, etc. moving around the country, destined for some factory, plant, construction project or car dealership.  And like I summarized yesterday, the three largest contributors to increased carload shipments so far this year are petroleum (+40.2% YTD), motor vehicles and equipment (+21.4%), and lumber (+12.2%).

So the economy’s doing better than we thought once we exclude coal from carload rail shipments, and the environment’s getting better because coal shipments to electric utilities are declining. And the petroleum, housing and auto industries are showing strong gains over last year for shipments of key inputs and outputs for those sectors.


 Enclosed car shipping is the alternative to open car shipping. Open car transport is the most common form of automobile transportation, although open car shipping is a very safe form of transporting your car, it does not offer a 360 degree protection of your car from dirt, the elements and bad weather.

Enclosed auto transport offers the protection you will need when transporting a classic, exotic,luxury, or that new or special car which needs an extra level of protection. Here are a few reasons to choose enclosed car shipping over open car shipping.
-Enclosed car carriers also carry the maximum in cargo insurance, most policies are $500,000 to $1,000,000 in cargo coverage for all units on the enclosed car hauler.
-Enclosed car shipping drivers are all well trained and knowledgeable in all classic and new exotic car models to be sure each unit is handled with the care the car needs. They are the best drivers in the industry.
-Weather will not be an issue on an enclosed car carrier, your car is protected from all normal road hazards and any and all inclement weather.
-Enclosed car shipping will be more expensive because of these factors, call a Paragon transport specialist today to get a quote on your enclosed car shipment.
- Deciding to ship a car in an enclosed car carrier will give you that peace of mind while your classic,exotic,luxury, or special car is being transported across country.

Freight brokers

They’re called “freight brokers,” “property brokers,” “truck brokers,” and “load brokers.” Regardless, they’re all the same. They’re the middlemen of the trucking world: third-party intermediaries who, for compensation, arrange the transportation of shippers’ property by authorized motor carriers.

If you’ve been a motor carrier (or an independent owner-operator with your own authority) for a while, you’ve probably taken a load or three from freight brokers. You obviously know what the broker agreed to pay you. But, I’ll bet you’d just love to know what rate the shipper agreed to pay the broker and what percentage of the shipper rate the broker kept. Was it 15%? Maybe 25%? How about 45%! Well, guess what… under Federal Regulations, you have a right to know! All you need to do is ask.

49 C.F.R. Section 371.3 states:

“A broker must keep a record of each of its transactions, and keep the records for three years. Each party to a brokered transaction has the right to review the record of the transaction applicable to them. For example, motor carriers accepting transportation shipments from brokers have the right to review any of the required documents retained by brokers…

Each transaction record must show:

(1) The name and address of the consignor;
(2) The name, address, and registration number of the originating motor carrier;
(3) The bill of lading or freight bill number;
(4) The amount of compensation received by the broker for the brokerage service performed and the name of the payer;
(5) A description of any non-brokerage service performed in connection with each shipment or other non-brokerage activity, the amount of compensation received for the service, and the name of the payer; and
(6) The amount of any freight charges collected by the broker and the date of payment to the motor carrier (emphasis added).”

So, if you’re a carrier, then you have the right– for up to three years after the transaction– to ask your broker to produce a copy of his invoice to the shipper! Now, if you do ask, don’t be surprised if the broker gets offended and decides to stop giving you loads. However, if it was a spot market deal, or you’ve already decided to get your loads elsewhere, then you might choose to exercise this right. Keep in mind… if you discover your broker kept 50%, it will not change the outcome of your rate contract. But, it might help you in terms of future negotiations.

If your broker refuses your request, you can report the broker to the F.M.C.S.A. under 49 C.F.R. Section 386.12. Or, you can retain us and we’ll be happy to explain the facts of regulatory life to your broker.

Car shipping insurance

The Good:

Every Car Hauler company is required to carry insurance in order to maintain their license and the minimum requirements for this insurance generally easily covers most car’s full blue book value or even the cost of a new vehicle.

Gratefully, damage to a vehicle during auto transport is fairly infrequent.  Still it does happen.   The most common type of damage is to the vehicle’s exterior, in the form of major dents and scratches and an occasional broken mirror or window.

This type of damage is fully covered by the Car Haulers insurance and in almost all cases the customer will be fully reimbursed for the cost of repair.

The Bad:

Like all insurance certain exclusions apply.   For example, most homeowner insurance policies exclude flood and earthquake damage.   The same holds true for Car Shipping Insurance.   Because each Car Hauler maintains their own insurance policy the exclusions are different for each Car Hauler.   However there are general themes.  Here is a list of common exclusions that most Car Hauler Insurance policies have.

Common Exclusions:

1.) Not on the Bill of Lading:

Virtually all Car Hauler insurance policies exclude all damage not noted on the Bill of Lading.   This is the single most important exclusion that a customer of Auto Transport needs to understand.  If there is damage to your vehicle it must be identified at the time of delivery and noted on the Bill of Lading and signed by the driver. If not it will be an uphill battle to obtain coverage for your damage.

2.) Acts of God:

These are generally characterized as weather related damage.  For example your car is damaged in a hail storm.

(I’ve always wondered why God gets the credit for all these “bad” events.  Isn’t He also responsible for the beauty and plenty all around us.  A tangent for sure – sorry)

3.) Road Hazards:

Many Car Hauler insurance policies exclude what is define as road hazard damage.  This class of damage often includes rock chips, grease, tar, and oil damage that is common to simply being on the open road.

4.) Personal Items:

Virtually no Car Hauler insurance policy will cover personal items left in the vehicle during a transport.

5.) Mechanical Damage:

It is uncommon for a Car Hauler to cause mechanical damage and this type of damage is frequently excluded.   Mechanical damage generally relates to the engine or transmission or other operating systems of the vehicle.

The Ugly:

If you understand how Car Shipping Insurance works and you take some simple precautionary measures there really isn’t anything ugly about it.  However, like most things the key is understanding the product’s capabilities and limitations.


Recently, the east coast of the US has been watching Hurricane Irene make it’s way toward land. First, it was headed straight for South Florida.  Then it shifted north and is currently headed for the Carolinas; and may even hit the entire eastern sea board.  As I write this, Irene is still out at sea and is several days away from an expected land fall.  Still, it has been affecting auto transport for all most 7 days in subtle, but significant ways.Auto transport car haulers don’t want to get caught in bad weather.  Some will avoid operating routes that would take them through the area affected by a storm.  Because of this, customers with vehicles in storm affected areas will often experience delays and/or price increases.

Delays – Drivers will delay pick up, delivery or travel through areas affected by bad weather. While not all drivers will stop operating in bad weather areas, some or many will depending on the severity of the weather.  The reduced number of drivers operating will result in delays in pick up and delivery.

Price Increases – Like all markets, auto transport prices change with supply and demand.   When the supply of drivers drops it leaves too few drivers to meet the current demand.  When this happens prices will tend to rise as customers compete for the remaining drivers.   Those customers needing transport ASAP are most affected by this.  In some instances, prices can rise very fast.  During the winter storms in March and April of 2011, we saw prices rise as much as 30% in a matter of days in response to the record snow fall in the Midwest and North Eastern states.

Because Irene is still at sea, we are just seeing delays for customers looking to get their cars moved in areas threatened by the storm.  At the beginning of this week we heard a number of car haulers state they were staying away from South Florida and being careful about the loads they took with pick up or delivery locations on the eastern sea board states as far north as NY.   The threat has passed for South Florida but not for the rest of the eastern sea board states.  The final effect of Irene won’t be known for a while, but we expect delays to continue and even become more pronounced as the storm finds land.  Due to this, prices will most likely increase as well.

Another example of weather induced delays and prices increases was the flooding that occurred in the Mississippi river states this winter.   We saw 15% price increases for loads being transport to, from or through flood affected areas.  It took several weeks after the flooding was resolved before prices dropped back to normal.  This behavior of prices dropping several weeks after the storms effects had abated is normal.

The moral of the story is: auto transport is an outside activity.  It is affected by all things outside and especially the weather.  Drivers have no more interest to work in miserable or dangerous weather than you do.   However, there are almost always drivers that will do it if the pay is high enough.  As a customer seeking to get your car moved you should consider waiting for prices to return to normal after the events effect has abated.  If you can’t wait, be prepared pay more for your transport.  You will be competing for a smaller number of drivers with other customers needing immediate transport.   Prices will increase but the sooner you act and get your vehicle on a truck the lower the cost is likely to be.

What is the difference between open and enclosed carriers?

Open trailers are either partially or fully exposed to the elements. There are many different types of auto hauling, open car carrier trailers, ranging from small three car carriers to the large 11 car carriers that you often see on the Interstate. Enclosed trailers are protected from the elements, and your vehicle shipment is basically shipped in a mobile garage. Having your vehicle shipped enclosed is typically a 30-50% premium over having it car shipped on an open trailer. Most cars can be car shipped either on an open car carrier trailer or in an enclosed car carrier trailer. It all depends on what you want to spend. Some trailers are made to transport antique cars.


An Auto Transport Broker Or A Transport Carrier?

When faced with a situation where a vehicle needs to be transported, there can be many confusing options available to consumers in need of a reputable vehicle transport company.  There are literally hundreds of companies available to consumers providing great moving quotes, which can become an extremely daunting process –not to mention that choosing between a transport broker and a transport carrier is a completely different story. At this point, researching the best solution for your case is incredibly important. Within this article, we shall discuss the pros and cons of using auto transport brokers and, furthermore, how to deal with transport carriers.

1.)   Pro: Auto Transport Brokers Make Selection Easy

One of the biggest advantages in regard to using auto transport broker services is the fact that these brokers most often have their own pre-approved lists of carriers, that will not only ensure that your vehicle is put in the right hands, but that you are also avoiding possible frauds. Another advantage is the fact that you will not have to search for the proper solution anymore, since you will have the broker handle the trial-and-error phase of the selection process. Truth be told, there are a number of things you need to be aware of when shipping a car, and selecting a broker might give you the breathing room you need in order to make things more pleasant.

2.)   Con: Not-so-Guaranteed Pick-Up

When you discuss with the company yourself, it makes it easier for you to ensure a certain date; however, since brokers do not have full control over the transport carriers, it might be wise to make some timing calculations up-front that will cover any possible delays. While your broker might have settled for a shorter transit time, it might take them a while longer to come to your house and pick up or deliver your car. Stay informed at all times.

3.)   Con: Auto Transport Brokers Might Make Low Fees Not So Low

This is a con you should take into consideration, since you are already paying for a service. Whenever you hire a broker, you should keep in mind that they make money out of small profits,  like the difference between the actual cost of the transport and the price they charge you. Make sure that difference is really worth it, because in some cases you might spend a lot more than what you would have planned just to have your car moved from here to there using a national movers company. Try looking for recommendations for fair auto transport brokers, which opt for normal fees and ensure quality services.


In most cases, it is wise to use auto transport brokers for your car shipping. However, you need to keep in mind that you should pick only the reliable ones out there, and that the prices you will pay for this particular service might be higher than what your original research indicated. Nevertheless, if you do not have enough time and energy to deal with this, auto transport brokers are certainly a smart solution.