Why Do I Need a Customs Broker?

Many businesses working with a small number of products and trade lanes can benefit from working with their freight forwarder,

International trade across the world’s longest border is a complex industry full of shifting regulations and rapidly evolving technology. Customs brokers navigate the ever-changing world of shipping for you, to help individuals and businesses clear customs with ease. Reliable customs brokers will have all of the resources needed to help your business stay up-to-date regarding any technological or regulatory changes

There are certain specific benefits of working with a customs broker. The following are a few of the key ways your business can experience improved operations.

Enhanced Risk Management

Customs brokers can help make sure that importers are in compliance with the latest customs regulations. A good broker will also be able to address and handle any complexities and inform you about how to further reduce your tax burden and duties. In turn, you’ll be able to minimize the risks associated with importing and exporting.

Reduction of Fixed Costs

Customs brokers possess all of the technology and tools required to transfer documentation and maintain communication with customs. As a result, you don’t need to worry about procuring the software or hardware or performing any maintenance, which helps reduce the costs that you would otherwise see when operating entirely in-house.

Flexibility of Staff 

With a customs broker behind customs, you can also avoid the need to look for licensed specialists or brokers on staff, which gives you more time and energy to focus on other more important aspects of your business. Customs brokers are also responsible for continually monitoring shipments to ensure they avoid any potential issues along the way. Subsequently, you won’t need to rely on staff to monitor your shipments at any point, which frees them up to perform other tasks.

Each of these benefits makes it worthwhile to hire a customs broker to handle imports. In the process, you’ll be able to avoid potential importing issues and save more money and time.

The Benefits of Hiring Carson to Be Your Customs Broker

If you’re in need of a customs broker you can trust to manage imports without issue, Carson International is here to give you everything you need as a U.S. and Canadian customs brokerage with over 50 years of experience serving the International Trade community.

Carson’s compliance solutions offer the ideal combination of flexibility and reliability, whether you’re a startup or a global company.

We are committed to maintaining compliance and remaining up-to-date on all of the latest regulations and technology in the industry. With our services behind your business, you can focus on growing and leave the customs process to us. We have all of the knowledge and data necessary to keep the process efficient and error-free, with total transparency that enables you to maintain complete visibility of the supply chain.

We’ll work with you to exceed your expectations and help your business maintain compliance, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

What Is the Difference Between Logistics and Freight Forwarding?

While freight forwarders and logistics companies may seem similar or even synonymous, there are some differences between the two to keep in mind. Unlike logistics companies, freight forwarders might be partners with a network of logistics companies, but they do not have any assets themselves.

What Is a Freight Forwarding Company?

Freight forwarders tend to partner with several logistics companies either nationally or internationally, which means that price checking capabilities are far better and more thorough than what you would get when working directly with a logistics company. Freight forwarders also have more knowledge and experience around specialty companies, which often vary greatly regarding types of transport, house moving, fragile goods, and lead times, among other elements.

What Is a Logistics Company?

Logistics companies, unlike freight forwarders, own all of their own assets including intermodal fleets of trucks, boats, or planes, but without any access to actual shipping routes. Logistics companies often specialize in specific areas such as dry box, long haul, cold storage, intracity, or large scale. At the same time, they’ll attempt to cover every aspect of the supply chain.

Generally, a logistics company is responsible for managing goods’ physical movement along the supply chain. In some cases, they may also manage documentation.

What are the Benefits of a Freight Forwarder?

There are multiple benefits of working with a freight forwarding company as opposed to a logistics company. The advantages include:

  • A network of multiple logistics companies that helps reduce prices with more diversity
  • Technology-based freight forwarders can provide instant quotes
  • Pricing is more transparent, as most freight forwarders will provide customers with in-depth breakdowns of all costs
  • Maintain data regarding specialty routes along with route optimization to help minimize delays and ensure timely arrival of goods
  • Have a good understanding of logistics companies in many different specialty areas, including household goods, fragile goods, cold storage, and others

In addition to these benefits, freight forwarders can also handle all of the paperwork associated with freight forwarding, including customs documentation, bills of lading, shipper’s export declarations, insurance forms, and letters of invoice.

Why You Should Turn to Carson for Reliable Freight Forwarding

Supply chains need freight forwarders that have a good understanding of the goods involved, along with the various suppliers and trade routes. Carson International can give you top-tier customer service and dependable solutions regardless of your needs. Some of the specific advantages you’ll get with Carson include:

North American Coverage

With offices located in Toronto, Montreal, Washington, and Vancouver, Carson can meet all international freight needs.

Global Coverage

Carson has a dedicated network of logistics partners all over the world, which provides optimal international coverage via all major global logistics hubs.

Asia-Pacific Specialists 

Carson specializes in cargo management through the Asia-Pacific logistics hub, with many years of experience using this trade lane.

Best-in-Class Tracking Software

We also maximize visibility across the supply chain using some of the best tracking software available. You can easily access and view all shipment documentation, reports, and billing information using our convenient web app.

Customizable Solutions

Depending on your specific needs, we can customize our solutions to proactively identify and address any potential issues anywhere in your supply chain.

All of these advantages make Carson International a potentially invaluable asset to your operations as a leading freight forwarder.

How to Choose a Customs Broker for Your Business

If you’ve decided to work with a customs broker to help maintain compliance, it’s important to find the right broker. Taking the following steps can help you make the right selection and find a customs broker you can trust.

Find a Broker with Industry Experience

While a broker might be dependable and have plenty of experience in a variety of industries, you need to find a broker that has more experience in your specific industry. You might have specific products that you work with that a general customs broker might be more unfamiliar with, which could lead to problems.

Keep in mind that different brokers will have experience with different types of products or agencies, meaning that you need to find one that knows how to work with your products and meet your needs.

Request References and Reviews 

Don’t choose a broker based solely on what they have to say about their services and reliability. You can verify their legitimacy and reputation by finding out what their past and existing clients have to say about them. Requesting a reference is an important way to understand your providers expertise in the Customs Brokerage environment.

Make Sure the Broker Can Accommodate a Large Volume of Goods

If you’re working with a wide variety or a large volume of products, try to find a broker that can handle them. Brokers should have a good understanding of your company’s needs and all requirements in place for imports and exports. The right broker will be able to properly allocate budget, time, and effort.

Select an Approved Broker

Brokers should use approved customs declaration systems that utilize up-to-date technology along with in-house management. Also, make sure the broker is either a licensed customs broker or a registered declaration bureau authorized to work in your jurisdictions.

Approved brokers will have all of the technology required for efficient transferral of documentation such as customs permits, packing lists, and invoices.

Contrast and Compare Brokers

When looking for the perfect customs broker for your business, don’t settle for the first broker you find, regardless of how compatible they might seem. Look around and compare pricing and other aspects such as specialization and experience.

Look for a Customs Broker that Adapts to Your Needs

It doesn’t matter if you’re a mult-national corporation with containers to move, or a single entrepreneur that needs to ship product orders for their start up–the world of international shipping is complex, and you need to partner with someone that will customize a solution exactly to your business’ unique needs. If you work with a broker that can provide 24/7 service, 7 days a week, they can stay up to date on order tracking and solve any potential problems or delays as they happen–not just during office hours. Selecting a customs broker that truly listens to your needs, and adapts their services to help satisfy them can mean the difference between satisfying your customers and wowing them. 

Taking all of these steps will help narrow down your selection when searching for the right broker. Once you locate a good customs broker, you’ll be able to benefit from consistent compliance and cost-effectiveness.

What are the Different Types of Freight?

In today’s modern supply chain, a variety of flexible freight solutions exist to meet the unique business needs of organizations around the world. Depending on your products, suppliers, and trade patterns, you may need one, or a combination of freight options to get your shipments where they need to go. With the help of professional logistics experts, you can take advantage of these efficient trade solutions to get your goods anywhere in the world.

Air Freight Shipping: Air Freight and Cargo

Air freight shipping involves the transportation of goods by charter or commercial air carriers. Along with being the fastest way to move products around the world, which is ideal for time-critical cargo, this form of shipping allows goods to be delivered to a wide range of locations, both nationally and internationally.

Because their shipping times are quite short, air freight services often have low insurance premiums. Additionally, since air freight travels through highly-secured airports, this freight option offers enhanced security.

Ocean freight shipping: Sea Cargo

Sea freight shipping uses ocean carriers to transport goods packed in large standardize size cargo containers. Generally, cargo containers are picked up by shipping vessels at major ports around the world and travel through specific freight lanes to reach their target destination. 

Although ocean freight shipping takes longer than air freight shipping, it’s often recommended for heavy and bulky shipments because it’s usually less expensive. While air freight shipping factors weight into the total cost, ocean freight shipping charges only by container. In general, a full container (standard size 20’ or 40’x 40’) is charged a single flat rate, while less than container loads (LCL) are charged by cubic meters. If you go the LCL route, your goods will be packed with other shipments in the same container.

Ground Transportation: Land Freight

Ground shipping involves the movement of goods by railway or by truck. While this type of shipping can be used on its own, it is often used in combination with air freight or ocean freight services to move cargo before or after the airport or seaport. When multiple shipping methods are used, it is referred to as intermodal freight transport. Ground transportation services can take cargo directly from the good’s origin to its required destination, which is often referred to as door-to-door shipping. Ground shipping options include:

Rail freight shipping

Freight train shipping uses extensive railway systems to ship cargo to its intended destination. A flexible option that is usually cheaper and more environmentally friendly than other options, railway shipping can carry standard size cargo containers, bulk commodities, vehicles, and other specialized options.

Less Than Truck Load Shipping (LTL)

LTL shipping is a great option for customers who have smaller loads to ship because this method combines shipments from several customers into one truck trailer. Customers using this method pay for the portion their freight takes up in a standard trailer.

Full Truckload Freight Shipping (FTL)

FTL is when one customer uses up the entire space in a standard truck trailer to carry their goods to a destination. Some customers may also put a partial load on its own in one truckload. This option is generally quicker than LTL because it’s only used by one customer for one destination.

You don’t have to figure out the right freight option to use on your own. Carson International’s freight experts can help you determine the best option for your supply chain demands. Get a quote for free.

What is Freight Forwarding?

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At its core, freight forwarding is a set of services that coordinates the shipment of goods from one location to another. In today’s global market, it’s one of the most commonly used methods for the international transport of goods.

Role of a Freight Forwarder

Freight forwarders are professionals who arrange the movement of goods nationally and/or around the world. According to the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association, the freight forwarder’s role is to ensure traded goods reach their correct destination:

  • On-time,
  • In good condition, and
  • In the most economically efficient way.

Depending on your freight and trade needs, freight forwarders coordinate the shipments of goods with a single carrier or with multiple carriers. These carriers work by air, ocean, and land to get your goods where they need to go, anywhere in the world. While many carriers specialize in one mode of transport, such as cargo planes or freight trucking, some offer multiple modes of service. Freight forwarding professionals handle the transportation logistics of all of this for their customers.

Additionally, with a deep understanding of suppliers and trade patterns, freight forwarders negotiate with their network of global partners to find solutions for your supply chain. 

International Freight Forwarder

Freight forwarding plays an essential role in our ever-changing and increasingly connected world of global trade. Along with connecting global supply chains, freight forwarders work on behalf of their customers to ensure their goods are smoothly imported and exported around the world. This makes international trade easier for entrepreneurs and industry leaders alike.

Along with coordinating the logistics, experienced freight forwarders are experts in customs regulations, negotiating tariffs, and the different requirements to ship by air, land, and ocean. This knowledge allows qualified freight forwarders to effectively manage the complex risks of international shipping for their customers. 

How to Choose a Freight Forwarder

Because of the complexities involved in freight forwarding, it’s essential that you choose a reputable freight forwarding company that you can trust. Along with continuously staying up-to-date on the ever-changing world of international trade and customs regulations, they need to be committed to helping you with your unique business needs. 

It’s also key to partner with customer-focused freight forwarding providers that use top-of-the-line technology to track your freight. This allows you to have visibility on your freight shipments as they travel, taking away the guesswork. A company that offers you the ability to view freight forwarding documents and billing documents online will help you further streamline your processes and allow you to focus your attention on growing your business.

Whether you’re an individual needing to organize a shipment, a global brand needing to get your goods from your manufacturer to your distribution hub, or somewhere in between, freight forwarding is a flexible solution designed for today’s modern supply chain.

Are you in need of freight forwarding services? Carson International works with our network of global logistics partners, to provide you with flexible freight solutions to achieve your international freight requirements. Get a quote for free.

Register for Webinar: Life After NAFTA — CUSMA/USMCA

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CUSMA/USMCA is North America’s new free trade agreement that is coming into effect July 1. Join Carson President, Tyler Carson, and Vice President, Dave Pentland, who will help you understand how this agreement differs from NAFTA and how it will impact your business.

Date: Thursday, May 21, 2020
Time: 11:00 AM (PDT)

The webinar will be recorded and made available following the live presentation.

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.

What Does a Trade Consultant Do?


As international trade regulations often change, it’s important for businesses to be as prepared as they can be to keep their trade operations up-to-date and compliant. While it can be a challenge for businesses to keep up with the latest changes, a trade consultant can help.

What Is a Trade Consultant?

An international trade consultant can help companies get all of the answers they need regarding the potential changes in the future of foreign markets. Reliable consultants can provide advice and services around many different projects in several areas of trade including market research, human resources, engineering, corporate strategy, and IT, among others.

Similar to other types of consultants, trade consultants often have experience and skills that are vital for working with a variety of specialty clients. Consultants need to be effective communicators, have the ability to effectively and accurately analyze data and make realistic predictions for the results of a specific action, and be capable of identifying certain strengths among clients that can benefit them in the long run. International consulting contracts are used to govern the relationships between consultants and their clientele.

There are many services that a consultant can provide. Consultants may benefit clients in the following areas:

Monetary Recovery

Consultants can help companies make a swift monetary recovery from spending on international trade. Some of the services that consultants can offer in this area could include duty recovery and drawbacks, duty deferral assistance, and the identification of duty refund opportunities. In the process, companies can worry less about their finances.

Technical Services

A dependable consultant can also assist with the technical aspect of foreign trade. Services in the technical area include valuation services, tariff classification, voluntary disclosures, customized training, and advance customs rulings. All of these services help ensure that no technical element is overlooked and underutilized.

Compliance Process Reviews

If you want to make sure that you’re consistently compliant all along the supply chain, good consultants can conduct compliance process reviews that audit every aspect to maintain consistent compliance. Reviews may include customs compliance reviews, customs audit assistance, process and internal control design, and post-entry audit, all of which can eliminate any concerns around your adherence to industry regulations.

International Trade Agreements

When establishing and maintaining Preferential Trade Agreements, trade consultants can make sure the process goes smoothly. Consultants can help with everything from country origin determination and certificate of origin maintenance to free trade program compliance reviews, which will further ensure compliance across the supply chain.

With all services combined, a trade consultant can make sure a company has everything it needs to manage foreign trade and remain compliant.

Work with a Reputable Trade Consultant to Optimize Efficiency and Maintain Compliance 

With all of the benefits that come with a good trade consultant, working with one can help keep all operations efficient and help alleviate any stress you might otherwise experience in the trade process. Trade consultants like Carson can give your business everything it needs with top-tier services that cover every element of international trade.

How to Manage eCommerce Logistics


eCommerce shows no signs of slowing down, but despite the expectations for eCommerce service and the challenges of meeting them, many eCommerce companies neglect to utilize an effective transportation management system (TMS).

To adequately manage eCommerce logistics, shippers must have a good understanding of the specific challenges pertaining to eCommerce and do what they can to implement a reliable solution.

Pain Points That an eCommerce Company Faces

Many of the challenges that eCommerce companies face are similar to the pain points of traditional logistics. However, one of the biggest challenges that eCommerce companies have to overcome is the need for fast-paced shipping for order fulfillment and delivery. In today’s eCommerce environment, with services such as Amazon Prime that promise next-day or same-day shipping, customers have extraordinarily high expectations when it comes to quick service and shipping.

To help meet or even exceed their customers’ expectations, eCommerce businesses need to make sure that a system is in place to handle continuous orders as opposed to periodic batches.

5 Tips to Help Manage eCommerce Logistics

To meet the needs of consumers and maintain efficiency of operation, eCommerce companies should take these 5 steps. 

1. Offer Several Options for Shipping

Today’s eCommerce customers expect to see multiple shipping options beyond standard shipping. While your business may be able to provide customers with next-day delivery and free shipping, offer the option of picking up in-store or delivering items to a third-party destination. People like the ability to fully customize their orders, down to the specific method of delivery.

2. Utilize All Shipping Options

In many cases, working with LTL shipments and traditional packages is sufficient, but as an eCommerce company, you should try to make use of several modes of transportation that can handle any type of order, regardless of its size or other specifications.

3. Use a TMS Designed for eCommerce

While it can be beneficial to have any type of transportation management system (TMS) in place to manage operations, eCommerce has specific requirements to meet growing demands. Shippers may want to incorporate solutions specifically intended for eCommerce, which can help with decision-making and order management while helping reduce overall costs.

4. Make Sure All Supply Chain Elements Are Connected

Organizational silos are simply obsolete when it comes to eCommerce logistics. With ever-changing demand and order fulfillment needs, it’s important for every part of the supply chain to be connected for optimal control. Streamlining your supply chain, including the acquisition of materials from vendors, will improve management and help ensure customer satisfaction.

5. Maximize Transparency of Operations

People want to know where their orders are from the time they order all the way up to the moment they receive them. While shippers may encounter certain issues when shipping products, including inclement weather, they can do what they can to reroute any shipments and let customers know when their orders will arrive.

Dependable eCommerce Logistics Services

If you’re in need of an eCommerce logistics management solution you can trust, Carson has everything you need to optimize your operations in Canada and the U.S.

Our eCommerce services can help reduce retailers’ tax burden while maintaining regulatory compliance with Customs. If you want to give your customers what they want when they expect it, Carson can help you keep your customers happy with our innovative eCommerce logistics management solution.

COVID-19 — What Relief Is Available For You?

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As we collectively continue to navigate our present reality under the impacts of COVID-19, Carson continues to be committed to supporting our clients through consistent business operations, and a client-centric approach. COVID-19 has challenged our organization to be agile and responsive as we navigate this new landscape. Like many of you, our team is working remotely to do our part to help #flattenthecurve. 

Both Canadian and US Governments are responding to the pandemic with supports in an effort to lessen the impact to businesses. It is important to understand what relief is available for your business, and how you can take advantage of government programs to help safeguard you throughout this process. 

Click here to learn more about Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

Click here to learn more about the United States’ COVID-19 Response to COVID-19.

We recognize this as uncharted territory for both large and small businesses, and are committed to helping our clients in any way we can, while remaining a cornerstone in your supply chain. 

With new information coming out daily regarding government responses to COVID-19 and its impacts, we want to ensure you that we are here to help you navigate this climate. Please do not hesitate to reach out at any time with questions you may have about government responses, and to learn how Carson is mobilizing to support clients. 

Get in touch:

Tyler Carson, President, tyler@carson.ca
Dave Pentland, VP, dwpentland@carson.ca
Matt Earish, COO, matt@carson.ca