Lots of acronyms...

But what services are you actually receiving?

Most freight forwarders have various line charges on their invoices, presumably for different services that they’ve provided you but the reality is that this is not always the case.

So, we’ll go through some of the more common ones, and give you the truth of what your freight forwarder is actually doing for these charges you’re paying. You’ll probably have seen invoice descriptions outside of the below as there’s no industry standards for them so forwarders seem to create their own as they go along.

Before we go through these, we wish to make it clear that we understand freight forwarders are a business and they need to make a profit. However, we also believe that invoicing terminologies should be clear to the consumer so they have the ability to accurately compare apples with apples instead of trying to weigh the value of an apple against a banana when looking at two different forwarder quotes/invoices.

As you’ll see below, we’ve categorised these terms and acronyms you’ll typically see on a forwarder’s invoice as there’s a few different ways of saying exactly the same thing.

Note: All below references to Airline Cargo Agent fees are explained on our what your freight forwarder actually pays page. Quoted prices are in reference to Qantas charges for the 100kg consignment of clothing example used on the aforementioned page.

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Air Freight/Airline Terminal Fees

These are the freight forwarders uplifted, passed-on and/or equivalent service fees to the $5.29 they pay the Airline Cargo Agents for your 100kg consignment (refer above link for details).

ITF - Import/International Terminal Fee

ATF - Airline Terminal Fee

IBF - International Bond Fee

CTO - Cargo Terminal Operator Fee

Air Freight/Airline Document Fees

The freight forwarders uplifted, passed-on and/or equivalent service fees to the $3.86 they pay the Airline Cargo Agents for your 100kg consignment (again, refer details on above link).

ADF - Airline Document Fee

IDF - International/Import Document Fee

TDF - Terminal Documentation Fee

Air Cargo Fees

These fees are for the reporting of your HAWB to Customs via submission of an electronic Air Cargo Report (ACR). An ACR contains basic consignment information such as consignor/consignee details, origin/destination ports, weight/pieces and the like as listed on your HAWB.

Typically, all this information is electronically transferred from the origin forwarder to the AU forwarder, therefore in most cases submitting an ACR is a 2-minute process - they simply click ‘send’ to on-forward the origin data they’ve received to Customs.

ACR - Air Cargo Reporting Fee

ACA - Air Cargo Automation Fee

ACF - Air Cargo Fee

Cargo/Border Security Fees

These are fees that have no specific tangible service relating to them or being directly provided for them.

While we have no idea (nor believe anyone else does) what the “Verification Fee” or the generic “Border Security Fee” are actually for, we can tell you that the CMR means “Cargo Management Re-engineering” which is what Customs termed the business model they developed (in the late 1990’s) to “re-engineer” the then current, but very outdated, EXIT system of electronic cargo management that customs and industry were using.

This business model culminated in the creation of a new electronic cargo management system that was released in October 2005 known as the Integrated Cargo System (ICS), which is what all brokers/forwarders use today. The ICS is free for all licensed brokers and authorized industry personnel to use, there are no fees associated this platform, you need only a digital certificate.

Exactly how a CMR Fee is relevant to your Air Freight consignment - 20 years after it was nothing more than a coined term for a customs business model - is anyone’s guess. Yet it’s common place to see this charge on forwarder invoices today.

CMR - Cargo Management Re-engineering Fee

BSF - Border Security Fee

CVF - Cargo Verification Fee

ICS - Integrated Cargo System Fee

Cargo Break Down/Handling Fees

These are somewhat akin to Australia Post charging you a fee for the postie to take your mail out of the bulk pile of letters they’re carrying on the side of their bike. They are levied for the forwarder to break down/deconsolidate (i.e. take your boxes out of) the bulk quantity of freight they’ve received from the airlines.

BBF - Break Bulk Fee

DCL - Deconsolidation Fee

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The Good News... There is an Alternative.

The Direct Master AWB

If your feel that you’re being overcharged by your freight forwarder for the services they’re providing you, there is an alternative. You can cut them entirely out of the picture with a single email instructing your supplier/origin forwarder accordingly, for full details refer our article on How to Save up to 75% on Air Freight Port Charges.

Need More Info?

If you’ve got questions about air freight clearances and/or Direct Master AWB procedures, please refer our Air Freight Customs Clearance page. If you don’t find what you’re looking for there, you can peruse the Air Freight FAQs, and if you’ve still got questions, give us a call on 1800 670 978 and speak to a licensed customs broker.

eCustoms Broker  -  The Air Freight & Postal Specialists