In the US, there are over 200 specific regulations for goods coming into a port. This can include duties and tariffs from a specific government agency, as well as taxes on sellable goods. Learning how to navigate this system is difficult, even for those who specialize in it.
What is a Customs Broker?
A customs broker is someone who has studied, taken a test in, and been licensed in those 200 regulations. They learn each duty, tariff, and law inside out so international companies don't have to. Companies employ custom brokers so they don't have to navigate the complicated regulatory system.
What does a Customs Broker Do?
A customs broker is essentially a babysitter for your products until they get released from customs. They're hired by the product owning company and take charge of goods at the start of their journey. Once the goods arrive, customs brokers handle all the paperwork and pay the fees.
Once customs releases the products, they deliver products to their final destination. They work as an advocate for your product, answering questions that customs has and making sure nothing goes wrong.
To handle all this paperwork for their customers, brokers need power of attorney. A power of attorney enables the broker to legally make decisions for your products.
Their duties and odd jobs include:
Preparing and filing entry documents
Depositing import duties
Securing the release of goods
Arranging deliveries to premises or warehouses
Consulting with customs
Navigating issues that arise
Finding creative solutions
Do I Need One?
Officially, customs brokers aren't necessary to import goods. However, that's not to say you should do everything yourself. There are horror stories of goods getting stuck in customs because the owner didn't understand the customs process. If you do the customs process yourself, you leave a lot of factors to chance.
If the right duties, tariffs, and paperwork aren't processed customs can hold your goods indefinitely. They'll sit in a warehouse under governmental control, doing you no good.
So no, you don't officially need one, but why would you chance not hiring one? They can only make your life easier.
Yes, you'll spend a little more money, but you'll reap what you spend with the time and stress they'll save you.
How to Pick a Customs Broker
Now that you know why you need a broker, how do you go about finding one? Before you start googling, you need to know what to look for. Make sure whatever company you choose is officially licensed.
Their license number should be listed on their page as either an FMC license and/or a customs license. Make sure the company is located or has a branch in the port you're shipping into.
If you have any questions about hiring a customs broker, working with one, or want a quote don't hesitate to contact us. We're ready and can't wait to help!