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What Should I Look for in a Customs Broker?

Unsure where to start when selecting a Customs broker? Curious about the factors that differentiate one customs broker from another and how to make the best decision for your business needs?

Written by: Gabe McGann, VP of International Operations at Rogers & Brown

No matter if you are a first-time importer or working for a multi-national company searching for a change from a legacy broker, there are very similar characteristics you should consider when selecting a customs broker.

If you are like most people, you may have never heard of a Customs broker (until you need one). People not involved in international business or supply chains have never needed the services a Customs broker provides. As soon as you do, you will undoubtedly have a lot of questions.

Most importers will be looking for a Customs broker who can provide expertise, assist with product classifications, ask questions to ensure correct information is being documented, complete audits, and simply become a partner to you and your company. Further, importers have different needs depending on buying strategies, Incoterms, inventory practices and/or routing preferences.  In some cases, an importer may work with a forwarder that does not provide Customs brokerage services, or an importer may bundle forwarding and Customs brokerage service with a single provider (we have covered this topic in a previous article).  In other cases, the importer may want to choose the Customs broker in order to better ensure Customs compliance for their import transactions.

Here are some key factors to consider when vetting a Customs broker:

  1. Experience and Expertise: Look for a broker with a proven track record and extensive experience handling import and export procedures. They should have a deep understanding of customs regulations, tariff classifications, and import/export documentation.
  2. Licensing and Certification: Ensure the broker is licensed and accredited by relevant authorities. This ensures compliance with legal requirements and industry standards.
  3. Range of Services: Evaluate the range of services offered by the broker. This may include customs clearance, tariff consulting, duty drawback assistance, trade compliance training, and other value-added services.
  4. Technology and Tools: Check if the broker utilizes advanced technology and software tools for efficient customs processing, tracking shipments, generating reports, and providing real-time updates.
  5. Customer Support: Consider the level of customer support provided by the broker. They should offer responsive communication, proactive problem-solving, and personalized assistance to address your specific needs.
  6. Reputation and References: Research the broker’s reputation in the industry and seek references or testimonials from satisfied clients. A reputable broker with positive feedback is likely to deliver reliable and high-quality services.

Other factors will arise when talking directly with the Customs brokers under consideration. Still, by carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose a Customs broker that best suits your requirements and supports smooth and compliant international operations.

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