Customs Broker

Sharline Shaw

Do you need a customs broker for your import business?

While there is no legal requirement that mandates importers employ a customs broker, many do it anyway.

For example, those who want to increase their profit margins and import goods from China without delay need customs and border protection.

Importers do not always know the exact procedures of customs brokerage firms and even the correct terminology of customs clearance to use with an official.

Such lack of understanding and knowledge about customs broker license and customs entry can result in problems getting import clearance resulting in a loss of money. 

Let’s see how a customs broker can improve a business and prevent delays.


What is a Customs Broker?

Customs brokers must facilitate and expedite the delivery of goods across international borders on behalf of individuals and organizations.

Each country abides by the customs officials by different rules and regulations regarding goods coming in and out of their borders to fulfill duty and applicable taxes. 

Custom brokers and corporations licensed know all those rules and are familiar with the proper import and export processes.

They also keep themselves up to date with the changes in regulations and procedures about background investigation. 

It is improbable that importers know all the details of clearing goods through customs, especially if they import and export through many countries.

Customs brokers, instead, are experts on import processes and work to streamline and expedite the shipping of goods.

Suggested reading: Customs clearance

What Exactly Does a Licensed Customs Broker Do?

What Exactly Does a Licensed Customs Broker Do

Customs brokers are responsible for all the paperwork and administrative tasks required for their client’s goods to go through the borders without problems and delay.

They do so by generating external links through private individuals.

In addition, they take care of any applicable taxes and verify that each shipment complies with current regulations.

They also make sure about the sensitive information and admissibility requirements. 

According to the local legislation, customs departments in each country are supposed to ensure that only allowed goods and cargo are coming into their country. It is done by taking care of the logistics and duties. 

Customs broker is a private individual accustomed to working with officials to meet all the requirements for a successful shipment.

They should get informed on any regulation change regarding business, industry and payment in such sectors so that their clients do not have to worry about breaking the law. 

Suggested reading: Customs bond

How to find a reliable custom Brokerage?


Importing anything from any part of the globe isn’t that easy. You need to hire a reliable custom brokerage to finish your tasks more efficiently.

Thus, there are many places to look for a customs broker.

But, you can have reliable custom brokerage by visiting the list of customs brokers on the CBP website. 

Other than this, another trustworthy platform to look for custom brokerage includes National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Associations of America (NCBFAA).

However, there are many other tips that you need to keep in mind while looking for a reliable custom brokerage.

Some of these key points are given as under: 

  • The person must have experience in your concerned field
  • Make sure to choose a licensed customs broker 
  • Filter everything while choosing one
Suggested reading: Customs power of attorney

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Understanding the Difference between Freight Forwarders and Customs Brokers

It is easy to confuse the job of a freight forwarder with the position of a customs broker.

While they deal with similar issues, the two jobs are very different. However, some differences are given as under:

Custom brokers are in charge of getting goods through the borders and are specialized in this particular aspect, and they have a broker license.  

They are at the receiving point of a shipment and are experts in all the requirements to get it through the borders. In contrast, freight forwarders are responsible for shipping solutions door to door.

They are responsible for the goods from the origin point until they arrive at their destination. 

Freight forwarders organize the entire shipment, including doing the necessary work to get it through customs. 

They have contracts and are in contact with all the companies in charge of transporting the goods, whether by trucks, boats, planes, or other means. 

Furthermore, a freight forwarder can offer extra services such as storage facilities, trucking services, and more. 

In addition, they also take care of every documentation required by border protection authorities. 

On the other side, customs brokers assist exporters in complying with the government requirements so that goods can get through. 

They are the ones filling up the papers, making the appropriate payments on behalf of their clients. 

Since freight forwarders deal with a shipment from the beginning to the end, they can also act as a customs broker. 

However, a customs broker is not always a freight forwarder. Typically, custom brokers deal with the import side of a shipment and are hired within the country of arrivals of the goods. 

It is also possible to find freight forwarders working with customs brokers when additional help is needed to get a shipment through borders.

In addition, it is possible to find companies with expertise offering a combination of mail forwarding and custom brokerage services, guaranteeing successfully exported goods nearly every time. 

Suggested reading: Customs commercial invoice
Suggested reading: Import Tax From China To US


Do You Need a Broker to Export

Do You Need a Broker to Export?

Those U.S.-based companies do not need a customs broker if they are exporting. It is true the contrary.

Those exporting into the U.S. would have been advantaged in hiring a customs broker to facilitate transactions and make sure they comply with regulations. 

Why Do I Need a Customs Broker?

You need a customs broker to export your goods into another country with speed and the knowledge that your shipment will be adequately cared for.

Those who have to maintain a supply chain can appreciate the work of a customs broker.

Licensed custom brokers are fully trained in dealing with the authorities and can assist importers most profitably. 

Why Do I Need a Customs Broker?

To become a customs broker in the U.S, you must be over 18 years old, a United States citizen, and have good moral character.

In addition, the candidate has to study and understand entry procedures and take an examination.

After the test is passed, the candidate must apply for the license. In general, the entire process to become a customs broker takes six months. 

Can a Customs Broker Work from Home?

Customs brokers can do most of the work from home, using computers, phones, and other means of communication.

Through the years, the profession of a customs broker has evolved with modern technology.

There has been a slow but constant transition to remove paper documents and use digital means, allowing customs brokers to do part of their work from home.  

Final thoughts:

Shipment regulations

Shipment regulations are many and can change very quickly.

Therefore, those individuals and companies that depend on their import and export transactions will experience many benefits in entrusting a customs broker to take care of them. 

Often, customs brokers can rely on the most current technology to track shipments and are fully trained to be competent when dealing with the government authorities.

While it is not mandatory to have a customs broker take care of your goods, you will find that a professional can give you that peace of mind to concentrate on other aspects of your business. 

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Article by:

Sharline Shaw

Hey I'm Sharline, the founder of Leeline Sourcing. With 10 years of experience in the field of sourcing in China, we help 2000+ clients import from China,Alibaba,1688 to Amazon FBA or shopify. If you have any questions about sourcing , pls feel free to contact us.