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What’s the Difference between Freight Brokers, Shippers, & Freight Forwarders?

If you’re a carrier, be it a trucking company owner or an owner-operator, you know you want great loads that pay well. You also know you want customers you can trust to get paid on time and establish great relationships with customers to haul for again and again.

But do you know the difference between freight brokers, shippers, and freight forwarders? Let’s look at each so you have a better understanding of where loads originate. That helps make the haul even smoother.

What Are Freight Brokers?

Freight brokers work as middlemen that connect shippers to carriers. Brokers are often hired by shippers. So that means brokers do not actually have the freight and generally can’t be held liable for any freight claims. Freight brokers register with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for brokerage authority and carry insurance to protect themselves if there is loss or damage.

The liable parties for claims placed on a load are the carrier and the shipper. Freight brokers serve as intermediaries, however, so it’s important for carriers to stay in communication with their broker customers to maintain a good relationship.

What Are Shippers?

Shippers are the senders. They are the ones that need the truck full of bananas delivered to the west coast. So, shippers are manufacturers, growers, retailers, or distributors looking for carriers to transport their goods. Shippers also commonly hire freight brokers to find carriers ready to haul those bananas for them. Shippers, as well as freight brokers, are carriers’ customers.

What Are Freight Forwarders?

Freight forwarders are certainly like freight brokers in that they also arrange for carriers to transport loads. But freight forwarders do store the actual freight for their customers, namely shippers. Freight forwarders can also be known as freight consolidators because they store a bunch of freight and then may arrange to get it hauled to the final destination in smaller shipments.

Also, freight forwarders usually ship under their own BOLs, store freight at their warehouses, and are responsible for insuring it. And unlike freight brokers, freight forwarders can be liable for the loss of the shipment or the damage to the load.

At, the FREE load board from freight factoring leader Apex Capital Corp, the goal is always to provide carriers with quality loads from reputable freight brokers, shippers, and freight forwarders.

Become a user and search for quality loads that feature the Apex Capital chevron icon. That means Apex has an established credit rating with that broker or shipper. Better yet, become an Apex Capital factoring client to enjoy unlimited credit checks on brokers and shippers, see credit lines, run or refresh credit checks, and more.

Mario Tarradell is a Bilingual Communications Specialist at Apex Capital and for NextLOAD. He comes to Apex after a long career writing for daily newspapers. Mario enjoys telling stories about truckers, especially about the many aspects of the trucking industry that have the greatest impact on them personally and professionally. Mario believes that truckers are our lifelines, so he always wants to pay respect to the hard-working folks behind the wheel.