A Container Freight Station (CFS) is a warehouse that specializes in the consolidation and deconsolidation of cargo for import or export. A shipping line or port terminal usually own a CFS. Less Than Container Loads (LCLs) primarily utilize CFS’s. Alternatively, full containers only unload at their final destination. As such, container freight stations create a centralized location for suppliers to send their products and act as a staging area to stuff and strip containers. Often times, the industry calls these locations, Dry Ports. These areas are crucial for prepping cargo to get to its next destination. This guide examines the basics of container freight stations.
Where Are Container Freight Stations?
Container Freight Stations position themselves near the following locations:
- Sea ports
- Long term storage warehouses
- Rail Way Centers.
Why? Individual shippers need to ship these goods via truck or train after cargo is deconsolidated from a container. Additionally, cargo proprietors could potentially want easy access to pick product up from these central locations – should they endeavor to rent a box truck and pick the pallets up themselves. How does that process work? What paperwork do you need to release cargo from the CFS?
Container Freight Station, Cargo Pick-Up Documents
If you do end up renting a box truck for a pick up at a Container Freight Station – ensure you arrive with the correct documents. The CFS will refuse to release the goods without the right documents. This also applies to any LTL truck driver who wants to pick-up the cargo on behalf of a consignee. Let’s look at which documents you need specifically:
A Delivery Order facilitates the handover of cargo from the carrier to the consignee. The carrier needs possession of the original Bill of Lading & payment for the freight invoice before it is released.
Customs Clearance Form
You can access your Customs Clearance form here. A customs clearance form helps authorize clearance for cargo to enter the country. Normally, if a CFS is processing this paperwork, they are also classified as a bonded warehouse.
What is the Difference Between a Container Freight Station and Bonded Warehouse?
A container freight station is a location where sea freight and air cargo provide storage for products straight from the port. Alternatively, a bonded warehouse stores products who are still under a customs bond. In fact, the whole facility is certified by Customs Border Protection (CBP) to receive goods under said bond. What does this mean? A container freight station can be synonymous with a bonded warehouse. They can be the same facility. Not all bonded warehouses are necessary container freight stations however. Indeed, there are up to 11 different types of bonded warehouse, designed to house different cargo. All the same, you will often here the term, CFS bonded warehouse, because any location receiving cargo directly from port, means the goods still need to clear customs and their bond.
Container Stuffing at a CFS
Freight forwarders contract shipping carriers to bring cargo into a Container Freight Station at origin for container stuffing. The industry also refers to this as container consolidation. An origin CFS is the designated location by carriers for the receipt & packing of cargo into a shared container.
For example, at origin, a LCL (less than container load) shipment arrives at a CFS. The warehouse staff unload the LCL. The staff then move an empty container from a container yard to the the CFS. Finally, they repack the cargo into a container. They then pack additional cargo from other proprietors into the cargo. The container is marked and sealed for identification. This is container stuffing. The carrier trucks the container to a CY (container yard). Here it waits. Eventually, CY staff load it aboard the scheduled vessel of choice.
Note, carriers try to bundle the same “customs related” products on a container headed to the same destination region.
Container Stripping at a CFS
After arrival at the container freight station destination, containers undergo a stripping of it contents. The industry refers to this as container de-consolidation. In other words, the CFS provides space to unpack containers. For their de-consolidation service at destination, the CFS charges a fee based on the volume of the cargo.
A Container Freight Station strips containers from 20’s, 40’s and 45’s and transload into 53’ intermodal containers for cost savings and more control of inventory. In turn, this brings control and efficiencies to inland freight movements for shippers.
3PL LTL truckers then pick up LCL shipments from the destination CFS for final delivery to the proprietors distribution warehouse of their choice. Take note, that CFS will charge a container freight station fee.
CFS stations typically have both a foreign trade zone (FTZ) and non-FTZ component. The reason being is many shippers take advantage of keeping their product in-bond on Customs Form 7512 to keep the product outside of the jurisdiction of the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP). This allows the shipper to defer the payment of duties. Taxes wait until domestic manufacturing is completed. Or duties wait till the goods sold to a customer.