British International Freight Association
The British International Freight Association had its origins in the 1940s as the Institute of Freight Forwarders, a loose affiliation of freight forwarding companies. The IFF aimed to maintain and improve industry standards and set professional examinations for people working as Freight Forwarders. The Institute was re-named in the late 1980s and R W Freight was registered member Number 1 of the new body.
R W Freight’s founder, Ron Willis, had been active in the Institute of Freight Forwarders for many years, and made his mark as the Chairman of the Trading Conditions and Legal Committee which drew up the first set of Standard Trading Conditions which were introduced in 1984. These Conditions have been kept up to date (the latest edition was in 2005), and having been extensively tested in the courts are one of the main advantages of BIFA membership for the freight forwarder.
BIFA defines its role as providing a focus for the international freight industry, quoting its aims as:
“To provide effective representation and support for the UK international freight services industry; to promote good practice and total quality in the provision of freight services by all members, and to encourage the membership to observe the highest standards of professional competence”. BIFA members could be offering one or more of the following:
- International Road distribution
- International Rail distribution
- Surface groupage consolidation
- Intermodal freight services
- International shipping
- Air freight consolidation
- Air freightforwarding
- Customs broking and consultancy
- Export Packing of goods
- Logistics and supply chain management
Freight forwarders offer a wide range of services within these areas. Often, a freight forwarder is independent of the physical carrier and thus is able to choose the best option for the customer. This independence has enabled the forwarder to support the global trading community by identifying opportunities within the supply chain to optimise resources, cutting out wasted activity and maximising profits.
BIFA has about 1400 members located throughout the United Kingdom. These companies have to meet strict criteria in order to qualify for membership, thereby enhancing the value of using only BIFA-registered companies for the movement of your freight. These criteria include:
- Submission of annual financial returns
- Adoption of the Association’s Standard Trading Conditions
- Adequate freight liability insurance cover
- Demonstration of industry competence
- Commitment to staff training
The Association operates through a structure of Policy Groups and Advisory Bodies each representing a sector of trading activity. These Groups report to the Association’s Board of Directors, which is in turn is supported by a democratically-elected Council of Members.