In the United States, customs brokers are licensed institutions, partnerships or affiliations and also private individuals permitted by the government to run their course freely. They prepare documents that concern duty payment, goods arrangement, and dissemination plan, they stand in for their client as relating matters of importing and exporting of goods and they are the only ones lawfully endorsed to do it.
The truth is, anyone can actually take up this role and legitimately represent themselves, make their own files and entries, but they get termed as imposters when they make clearance that they are not authorized to. Imposters simply don’t have the license to practice what they do, although everyone has the legal right to stand for himself, only customs brokers are authorized to clear imports. A good example is the Clearit customs brokers amongst many others.
For the sake of your goods and your business, it is necessary that you find a broker who knows his job and can handle custom relations efficiently. You’re going to have to work closely with him on issues that concern data entries, ensure that valuation and divisions are accurate, assess his abilities and minimize mistakes and increase his compliance. If it’s not the right one, your business will experience several delays with good clearance and you’d incur unnecessary fines.
When scouting, consider the following:
- Does your customs broker specialize or has over time, acquired expertise in a particular line of import? If he has, then good, if not, he may not be your best choice, the specificity of your business if not general will require a specific line of brokers. Import and export of textile materials and alcoholic drinks, for example, have a lot of regulations entangled to them hence, not every customs broker is able to correctly handle them.
- Is he a licensed broker? We talked about this before. He must be in sync, with not only the customs of his country but with major cargo sites and portals.
- Consider his reliability and reputation. Your most accurate way of assessing a broker is from his own clients.
- How many ports does your broker work with? Depending on the size of your import and number of ports you use, your broker will need to have offices there to ensure he doesn’t lose control to other agents. If you use just a single port, it’s a lot easier.
- Establish a contract with your broker. A working agreement for a period of time that includes his role, the scope of function, architecture of payment and fees, service carried out, operations and contacts.