If you’re an importer or exporter in the United States, you are likely aware of the complexity of the customs clearance process. Compliance with regulations and requirements is essential for the successful clearance of goods. Thankfully, partnering with a reputable customs broker can make the entire process faster, easier, and more cost-effective for your business.
What is customs brokerage?
Customs brokerage is a service that helps businesses send and receive goods across international borders. Customs brokers ensure that the movement of goods complies with all necessary laws and regulations. In fact, they file all required documentation, manage customs clearance, obtain necessary permits, resolve issues, reduce costs, and process duties and fees on your behalf.
Do customs brokers work with US Customs and Border Protection?
Customs brokers work closely with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other federal agencies. A customs broker acts as a mediator between your business and these organizations, consulting with various agencies, maintaining a local presence at ports of entry, and representing importers’ priorities on new policies, protocols, and processes.
How do customs brokerage firms work with importers and exporters?
A customs broker deals with USCBP and other agencies on your behalf, ensuring that you meet all requirements, reduce costs, and speed goods through customs clearance. Brokers provide a variety of high-value services. In brief, they can offer end-to-end customs management for every aspect of your international shipments or provide self-contained services for specific parts of your trade processes.
Do I have to use a customs broker?
Although businesses can legally handle customs clearance themselves, the process can be complex and time-consuming. For many businesses, working with a customs broker simplifies imports and exports and ensures the successful clearance of goods with minimal hassle. Additionally, Customs brokers can optimize many aspects of your customs processes, reducing costs and speeding up clearance.
Compare it to filing your own business and personal taxes versus hiring a CPA to do the work for you. If your needs are simple, you can do everything yourself, but as your situation becomes more complex, an expert will help ensure you don’t make mistakes and can save you some money.
In most cases, if international trade is important to your business, we recommend using a customs broker.
What are the main services offered by a customs brokerage?
Customs brokers provide a wide range of services. Depending on your needs, you can use these as part of your end-to-end importing and exporting or take advantage of each individually. For example, here are some of the services that GEODIS offers to our customs clients:
- Stay aware of rapidly changing customs rules and regulations to ensure their clients comply with the latest requirements.
- Educate clients on new policies and regulations so you can optimize your business processes accordingly.
- Understand the type, purpose, and nature of your goods and ensure proper classification of all products.
- Gather, prepare, and submit customs documentation, declarations, and foreign trade documents.
- Obtain permits and licenses from US regulatory agencies on behalf of clients.
- Get permission and arrange for customs clearance of goods for import and export.
- Manage a customs control tower for effective reporting and tracking of your products.
- Calculate the value of goods and amounts due for tariff and duty payments.
- Make payments to government agencies on behalf of clients.
- Advise on tariff and duty engineering to reduce customs fees.
- Claim refunds as part of duty drawback depending on how goods are processed.
- Provide inspection of goods on behalf of USCBP.
- Assist with dispute resolutions and customs audits on the client’s behalf
- Consult on customs requirements and optimization.
- Integrate with other logistics services such as onward transport and storage, trade services, or Foreign-Trade Zones.
What are the benefits of using a customs broker?
A customs broker provides several benefits to your business:
- Eliminate the hassle of importing and exporting goods: Let a broker deal with federal agencies on your behalf so you can focus on running your business.
- Reduce the bottlenecks and delays in clearing goods through customs: Ensure that agencies have all the correct documentation for fast clearance.
- Lower duties, tariffs, and other fees: Use tariff engineering, customs optimization, and duty drawback to keep your costs to a minimum.
- Mitigate your import and export risks: Comply with customs rules, get the licenses you need, avoid penalties, and minimize your overheads.
- Provide training and updates on rule changes that impact imports and exports.
How does the customs brokerage process work?
The main steps in our customs brokerage processes are:
- You provide pre-entry preparation information to us.
- We review this information to ensure nothing is missing.
- We file all necessary documents with the relevant agencies.
- Your goods are received into the US.
- We file further paperwork, review responses, and deal with issues.
- We monitor the release status of your goods and arrange for any additional permits, licenses, inspections, or documentation.
- CBP marks your products for release and removes any holds.
- We manage the payment of duties, taxes, and fees.
- We carry out post-entry activities.
- We provide further integrated services as required, such as onward transportation and storage, foreign trade zones, tariff engineering, duty drawback, bond management, or other consulting.
- You work with supply chain partners to receive and process products.
Are customs brokers licensed?
Yes, customs brokers can be licensed as individuals and as businesses. CBP issues and oversees customs brokerage licenses; They must pass strict exams to achieve their licenses. Customs brokerage companies like GEODIS are required to have at least one officer who is a licensed customs broker. In fact, GEODIS has more than 70 industry experts providing brokerage services to our clients.
How much do customs brokers charge?
Fees can vary depending on how much you want a customs broker to do. We can configure services to your exact requirements and develop a pricing structure that works for you. We aim to save you more money and hassle than you would spend on our fees, so you’ll always come out ahead. For the same reason, we’ve helped customers eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in customs costs.
Where can I learn more about customs brokerage services?
If you found this article helpful, you can explore GEODIS’s Customs Brokerage Services. Additionally, we have multiple guides about customs brokerage in our resource center for more in-depth information.