A Guide to Customs Brokers: 5 Tips

International trade is regulated by trade laws and tariffs. Countries set these as a means of controlling the movement of goods from one border across another. It would be wise to choose a customs broker for international shipping. A customs broker can make a huge difference since they are well versed in the complex process of customs clearance. Here are a few tips for finding a good customs broker.

1. Ask For A Referral

Just like most things when one is not familiar, it's best to ask and shop around. You can ask freight forwarders or transport companies to recommend a customs broker who has a good reputation and track record. Talk to a few brokers and gauge what their strengths are. A one-time shipment's brokerage fee will be more than if you had frequent shipments.

2. Familiarity With Goods

Get yourself a broker who is at least familiar and experienced with the type of goods you are shipping. Regulations, duties and taxes have codes that can vary, depending on the product. Sometimes, a shipper can make mistakes which is going to cost you money. This is something a broker can help with.

3. Choose A Broker Who Is Up-To-Date

International trade is always changing and is a dynamic field. When choosing a broker, you need to know if he or she is up-to-date to avoid penalties for non-compliance. Make sure to find out if the broker is current with international trade news, cross-border issues and also attends seminars on things like risk management and compliance.

4. Is A Broker Reassuring?

It helps tremendously if you can get hold of a broker who does some hand holding. He or she must be interactive with you and offer help and advice. If a broker assumes you know what you're doing, they could be waiting for you to give them something they require and the results of little misunderstandings and delays can be detrimental.

5. Get A Broker Based On Your Shipping Size

If the amount you are shipping is relatively small, then this may not be an issue at all, however, if the shipment is quite large and your broker does not have the staff to keep up with it, this will cost you. You will face delays until your shipment can be cleared. This means that you will have to pay for container storage.

Be aware of all rules and regulations too. For example, if your shipment includes free samples, they are subjected to the same procedures, so it isn't really "free". You need to declare everything.

You may handle the whole process yourself, however, a customs broker has the knowledge, experience and skill to handle it whereas you may encounter hassles in the labyrinth that is customs clearance.