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Check Call: Importing and exporting not always same thing

Welcome to Check Call, our corner of the internet for all things 3PL, freight broker and supply chain. Check Call the podcast comes out every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. EST. Catch up on previous episodes here. If this was forwarded to you, sign up for Check Call the newsletter here.

Inside this edition: Showdown between freight forwarders and customs brokers; FMCSA’s new regulations; and shiny new purchases for Overhaul and DHL. 


Customs brokers vs. freight forwarders. Often these words are used interchangeably and that isn’t always correct as freight forwarders and customs brokers are in fact two different things. A freight forwarder is an intermediary between companies that makes the goods shipment to the final destination. Customs brokers are regulated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assist importers and exporters in meeting federal requirements governing imports and exports. Freight forwarders can be customs brokers, but not every customs broker is a freight forwarder. 

Freight forwarders focus on the logistics of everything — arranging transportation, costs and all the paperwork. These are the people who get freight onto ocean containers and airplanes. This is where some of the confusion comes in with regard to customs brokers. Freight forwarders help prepare customs documentation but are not giving legal advice.

Customs brokers will provide legal recommendations regarding the best plan to get goods imported to the desired country. A good customs broker can be the reason behind a business’ success. Knowing the laws, correct paperwork and duty costs are their bread and butter. 

reddit r/memes

A villain origin story? The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is really trying to become a common enemy for some. The offense this time is limiting the scope of emergency waivers that temporarily exempt carriers from certain federal regulations. This new proposal is aimed at reducing the amount of truck crash-related deaths by limiting emergency waivers to only be valid for five days instead of 30. Those advocating for these new rules call for the exemption to be tailored to specific circumstances and emergencies. 

Those against the proposal don’t have a lot of positive things to say about it. There’s not a lot of proof showing that exemptions equate to worsening safety conditions. The biggest gripe is around weather-related natural disasters such as a hurricane. The storm itself is done causing damage after about 24 hours. It’s after that when all the supplies are desperately needed. Most of the time first responders are barely set up and able to receive emergency supplies a day or two after the disaster. Cutting them off at five days could hamper the recovery efforts of the affected area. 

The Shippers Coalition stated in John Gallagher’s FreightWaves article: “America wants to solve its supply chain problems … yet, FMCSA has proposed these restrictions to its waiver authority and its ability to respond to supply chain problems in emergencies while acknowledging that it has no evidence” that the current waiver regime has made roads less safe. 

FreightWaves TRAC Market Dashboard

TRAC Tuesday. We used to have TRAC Thursday. But there is no newsletter on that day anymore so every other Tuesday is now TRAC Tuesday by default. That brings us to this week’s TRAC lane of the week — Oklahoma City to Memphis, Tennessee. Capacity is ever so lightening in Oklahoma City as outbound tender rejection rates dropped below 3% and currently sit at 2.65%. This should bring spot rates down, however, Memphis rejections have slightly risen to 6.24%, so rates on this lane will continue to stay the same as the two small changes counteract each other. Other shipments out of Oklahoma City could see lower rates and the same with slightly elevated rates out of Memphis. 


Who’s with whom? Most recently cargo theft monitoring company Overhaul purchased SensiGuard from Sensitech. This move makes Overhaul a global player as shippers around the world are looking for supply chain security options. This acquisition makes targeting and stopping theft on the ocean a real possibility. Fun fact: Overhaul CEO and founder Barry Conlon was on Running on Ice a few weeks ago if you want to take a deep dive into cargo theft practices. 

In other news: DHL is expanding its Southern California presence. It has moved from Carson, to a new facility in Redondo Beach. This  9-mile location change and puts it closer to Los Angeles International Airport 40,000 more square feet of warehousing and office space. The proximity to the airport is crucial as DHL operates international and domestic flightsand, given the unpredictability of LA traffic, it should be a massive time saver. The best thing, in my opinion, about the new $5 million facility is it’s equipped with charging stations that will allow for fully EV pickup and delivery vehicles — a sustainability goal we can all get behind. 

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