Customs Broker 101: All that new importers in the US must know!

The global economy is changing very rapidly, and with favorable international trade agreements, it is a good time to start an importing business. Importing, however, may not be as easy as you think. There are many regulations, laws, compliance requirements, tariff classification details, and procedures that must be adhered to. Duties, taxes and fees as applicable must be paid, and even a small mistake in your documentation may have serious implications. In some cases, your imports may be subject to exemptions too. 

In short, you cannot do it all, especially if you are new to imports and exports. That’s exactly where a customs broker, such as, steps in. Who is a customs broker? How can they help? Is it mandatory to hire one? In this post, we are answering some of these questions and more. 

The basics

A customs broker may refer to a corporation, partnership, association of individual, licensed and regulated by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Their primary role is to help importers in staying compliant and meeting necessary federal requirements. CBP requires importers to submit a long list of documents and details to start business, and as you keep importing new shipments, more norms have to be followed. A customs broker helps importers in clearing shipments at the border. 

How can customs brokers help?

The role of a customs broker extends beyond basic paperwork. They will take care of the payments, fill out details like shipment origin, routings, destination, and they will also evaluate all documents to ensure compliance. They are also instrumental in classification of goods and shipments, so that duties, fees, and taxes are calculated and paid accordingly. They also work as a liaison between the importing business and all agencies that it must deal with. 

For many companies, the primary reason to hire a customs broker is consulting. Whether it is about expanding to a new market, or handling custom issues related to certain exporters, your customs broker can guide on matters that may otherwise seem complicated. 

Is it mandatory to hire a customs broker?

No, there is no law that makes it mandatory to hire customs brokers for any kind of importing task, but eventually, most importers prefer to have a customs brokerage to handle their requirements. 

If you are new to importing, or would want to get expert opinion on starting a new venture for commercial imports, contact a customs broker today.