If you are an importer, an exporter, or are simply planning to receive trans-border items, you can greatly benefit from the services of a customs broker. They help to facilitate the smooth and efficient clearing of goods at border points. They prepare the needed paper work, calculate and facilitate payment of duties and taxes, and they also deal with any other added requirements needed, e.g. special permits, exemptions, etc. If you are looking for a customs broker to help with the above services, make sure to find out about the following first:
1.Which port(s) do they operate from?
Customs brokers operate from different locations. Some operate from all ports while others work in different states, regions, or ports. The area where a customs broker works in plays a vital role in their efficiency. If a customs broker doesn't work in the port(s) where you expect your cargo, they may not be a good fit for you. Also, if a broker works in too many ports, they may be overstretched and prone to delays. For best results, go with a broker that works where you expect your cargo to arrive.
2.What goods do they specialise in?
Brokers also tend to specialise in different commodities, though not all. These include clothing, cars, heavy machinery, perishable goods, dangerous goods, etc. Find out while line of products your broker is in. More importantly, make sure the broker deals with products similar to yours. This way, it'll be easier for them to process their paperwork, calculate taxes and duties, and so forth.
3.What's their penalty record with the customs service?
If a broker is found to have made mistakes during their line of work, they are usually given a penalty by the customs service. Brokers with such penalties therefore tend to attract increased scrutiny from customs officials—an issue that can bring about delays and increased checks in processing cargo. Find out your broker's penalty record. If they have none, you can expect smooth sailing without any inconveniences.
4.Do they offer cargo forwarding services?
Customs brokerage and cargo forwarding go hand in hand. Although not all brokers deal with forwarding, it's great if your broker can organise transport for your goods through water, air, road or rail. This will speed up delivery and reduce your cargo management needs.
5.Do they work for a freight company?
Some custom brokers with for freight companies. Knowing whether your broker works for one is important as it will let you understand how they work. A broker working for a freight company will manage to forward your goods with ease as they do not have to search for a freight forwarder. However, brokers who don't work for freight companies have the flexibility to look for cheaper forwarders.
As you can see, a customs broker can greatly impact how and when your goods are delivered. By asking the above questions, you can find a broker that is a perfect fit for you and your line of business.