If you’re importing into or exporting from the US, it’s helpful to understand how a customs broker can make the whole process faster, easier, and more cost-effective. From filing documents and ensuring you have the right permits to quickly clearing goods through customs and saving you money—a customs broker will integrate with your business to enhance your international trade.
It’s important to work with a reputable customs broker who you can trust. We know you have questions, so here are our insights on how a customs broker can enhance your business.
Let’s get into it.
Can you provide a brief overview of customs brokerage?
Customs brokerage helps businesses to send and receive products across international borders. Customs brokers must be licensed, and they ensure that the international movement of goods meets all necessary laws and regulations. Customs brokers can file any required documents, clear goods through customs, obtain permits, deal with issues, reduce your costs, and pay duties and other fees on your behalf.
Do customs brokers work with US Customs and Border Protection?
Yes, a good customs brokerage company will have strong relationships with US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) and other federal agencies. A customs broker acts as an intermediary between your business and those organizations. This includes consulting with various agencies, 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. 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?
Not necessarily. If you’re able to understand and follow all the necessary rules and regulations on importing and exporting, then you can deal with customs yourself. But, for many businesses, a customs broker significantly simplifies your imports and exports, and has the expertise to ensure you clear your goods with minimal hassle. We remove much of the overhead and inconvenience of dealing with complex federal procedures and agencies. Customs brokers can also optimize many aspects of your customs processes—speeding up clearance and reducing your fees.
Think of it as the comparison between filing your own business and personal taxes versus hiring a CPA to do the work for you. If your needs are simple and straightforward, 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. You can use these as part of your end-to-end importing and exporting or take advantage of each individually, depending on your needs. 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 are compliant 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 main 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 licensed customs 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 of the correct and necessary 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.
- Stay up to date with rules changes: Interact with your customs broker to get training and updates on rules 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 any further paperwork, review responses, and deal with any 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 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, and all customs brokers 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. We have more than 70 industry experts providing brokerage services to our clients.
Who does GEODIS support with your customs brokerage services?
We provide a wide variety of customs services for small and medium businesses, through to enterprises, Fortune 500 companies, and widely recognized brands.
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 come up with 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. We’ve helped customers eliminate hundreds of millions of dollars in customs costs.
Where can I learn more about customs brokerage services?
We’re glad you asked. We have an in-depth guide to customs brokerage in our “Expertise Insights” section. If you want to discover how we can help you, please do get in touch.