GUIDE: Find The Right Customs Broker For You

Guideline to select your next Customs Broker

Are you looking for a new Customs Broker? How do you find a customs broker that’s right for you? Every broker facilitates the clearance of your goods as they travel across the border, but every broker is different. Big and small, national or regional, different customs brokers have differing strengths and weaknesses.

To help you determine which one is right for you, we created set of questions to help guide you when you’re talking to customs brokers.

Now that you have taken this step, before selecting a Customs Brokers, they are a few things that you should be aware of and take into consideration before making your decision.The MOD (Modernization Act of 1993) shifted all responsibilities onto the importers’ shoulders.  Out of this, two new transformed concepts emerged  “Informed Compliance” and “Reasonable Care.” These are the premises on which CBP maximizes voluntary compliance and inform the trade community of its legal obligations. There are several Informed Compliance Publications (ICPs) in the “What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About: …” series on the CBP website.

You can research and download here.

Currently, U.S. Customs and Border Protection is launching “The 21st Century Customs and Trade Framework.” Meaning that Reasonable Care 2.0 is coming with additional responsibilities for the trade community and the Customs Broker.

As you are required to exercise “Reasonable Care,” it will be beneficial for you to develop a guideline to measure and compare different options. Developing this guideline will assist you in exercising “Reasonable Care” as required by CBP. Not all Customs Brokers are alike. Some might have more outstanding capabilities than others. Some have an area of expertise in specific industries. Some might not process documents for “Sensitive Commodities.”

Guideline to select your next Customs Broker

Now that you are aware of specific requirements and responsibilities to import into the USA, let’s start developing the guideline to select your next Customs Broker.  All of these are suggestions, you can add or remove according to your needs or concerns.

When selecting your next Customs Broker, ask the following questions:

  1. What are my expectations from my Customs Broker?
  2. Does the Customs Broker have a written scope of services?
  3. Explains what your responsibilities are as an importer?
  4. Explains to you how they can assist you in fulfilling your responsibilities as an importer?
  5. Does the Customs Broker clearly explain its services?
  6. How does the Customs Broker communicate new changes with their clients?
  7. Does the Customs Broker specialize in specific industries?
  8. Can Customs Broker advise on requirements to import my goods?
  9. From Partner Government Agencies?
  10. What is their procedure to process your entries?
  11. How do they make corrections?
  12. Can they answer my question by phone or electronic correspondence?
  13. What are their hours of operation?
  14. Electronic Data Interface Capabilities?
  15. Do you feel comfortable and welcome with this Customs Broker?
  16. Is the Customs Broker proactive or reactive?
  17. What are their limitations?
  18. What are other services offered? Transportation, warehousing, distribution, labeling, pick and pack, exports, ITAR?

By no means is this a complete guideline in selecting your next Customs Broker. This will assist you in developing a comprehensive approach and adjust it to your specific needs and requirements. Also, it would help if you considered how comfortable you feel with this Customs Broker expertise and how they can become a part of your team to be successful in international trade.

I’ve also written about 4 things you need to know when dealing with a Customs Broker, check it out. And, let me know if you have any questions about selecting a customs broker, I’m happy to help.

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