Choosing a Customs Broker: Questions You Need to Ask

If your company is involved in international trade, you will, at some point, need the services of customs brokers. Customs brokers play a vital role in the long term success of your business which is why you need to find a genuine international trade expert.


U.S. Customs and Border Protection regulations consider the importer the one responsible for the accuracy of their customs declarations, record keeping and reporting. If there are any omissions and errors, then you could end up paying additional fees. So it is always best to look for a customs broker who is adept at the laws, guidelines and regulations of the country you want to import goods into.


Aside from setting up the clearance of your goods through Customs, your licensed customs broker can provide you with all the necessary information and guidance in regards to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) valuation, coding under the Harmonized Tariff, and proper record keeping, among others.


The following are guide questions that will help you evaluate customs brokers:


  1. What are your days and hours of operation? Who will answer my questions if I contact you outside regular work hours?


  1. Can you tell me about NAFTA? Can my goods enter the U.S. without any duties?


  1. Do you help companies ensure proper compliance with Customs regulations and requirements?


  1. If I am in the process of purchasing products, can you assist me in determining if there are any additional duties or reports needed for other government agencies that I may not be aware of?


  1. Can you also arrange for air/ocean/ground transportation of my goods?


  1. Will you be able to assist with duty drawbacks and corrections to custom entries?


  1. Do you also provide online documentation and Electronic Data Interchange or EDI?


Benefits of Using a Customs Broker


A customs broker also takes care of the declaration of your shipments by making sure that all the necessary permits are obtained for goods entering and leaving a particular jurisdiction.


Generally speaking, your customs broker will take care of all the ‘loose ends’ between you as the importer and the government bodies. They will also provide guidance on any Free Trade Agreements for a specific trade, and how to obtain its benefits, along with assisting you with the preparation of cost statements in order for you to qualify for such agreements, if any.


When you have a customs broker by your side, you can:


  1. Stay up to date with the ever-changing customs policies and regulations.

If you opt to manage your company’s imports on your own then there is a good chance things will quickly go from good to bad. A customs broker keeps up with the policies and regulations of all appropriate government agencies and will assume responsibility of ensuring that your company is compliant and up-to-date.


  1. You can take advantage of any trade opportunities.

Your customs broker will also look for – and take advantage of – appropriate trade agreement opportunities, which can reduce shipping taxes and duties, so you can retain greater profits.



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