What is a Customs Broker?

Customs brokers help remove barriers in global trade for their clients by facilitating the import and export of goods across international borders. Whether you’re an individual, small business, or enterprise company, customs brokers use their expertise to help goods smoothly clear through customs in different countries. By optimizing the flow of shipments across borders, customs brokers reduce the stresses involved with international shipping for their clients.

What Does a Customs Broker Do?

Customs brokers serve the international trade community by handling the customs process for shipments, whether they go by air, ocean, or ground. These services include, but are not limited to:

  • Putting together required documentation for export shipments
  • Clearing shipments of imported goods
  • Collecting required duties and taxes
  • Preparing customs accounting documents
  • Consulting on things like how to take advantage of free trade agreements

Every country around the world has different import and export regulations and procedures for different products, and these rules are always changing. Brokerage personnel are responsible for knowing and keeping up-to-date with these regulations. 

Along with being a wealth of specialized knowledge, customs brokers communicate with different agencies (Canadian Food Inspection Agency) and government officials (Transport Canada, Health Canada) as goods are being shipped to make sure the correct procedures are being followed. This not only helps ensure goods are cleared correctly and without delay, this saves clients from having to deal directly with customs officials. 

Custom Broker Fees

In general, every customs broker sets their own service fees, depending on the specifics and complexities of different shipments. These fees can be based on a percentage of the total shipment value. Some customs brokers may also charge a flat rate for their services. Requesting a quote from a customs broker will help you determine the costs for your specific shipments.

How to Choose a Customs Broker

In today’s ever-changing trade environment, it’s more important than ever to have experienced compliance professionals you can count on. Look for full-service, licensed customs broker companies that have the expertise to guide you through the complexities of importing and exporting.

In Canada, Canadian customs brokerage personnel are licensed by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA). These individuals are specially trained to make sure imports (for both companies and individuals) follow the strict, always changing guidelines set by the government. Likewise, for America, U.S. customs brokers are licensed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Using a brokerage company that provides integrated Canadian and U.S. brokerage solutions offers added efficiency and cost advantages for your supply chain needs.

Also, find a C-TPAT (Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism) certified customs broker. This means the broker is part of a U.S. border security program that works to protect international supply chains from terrorism and strengthen cargo security. Along with increasing safety, this helps your shipments move through the border quicker because the membership allows the customs clearance processes to go faster.

Do you need assistance importing or exporting goods? Carson International’s compliance experts are ready to help you with your unique business needs and guide you every step of the way. Get a quote for free.