Transnational shipping of goods can be a very complicated matter, especially if you consider the number of trade agreements you need to keep tabs on to ensure the efficient and smooth transport of your goods. Similarly, customs regulations in several countries are tightening over time, making it even more important for business owners to hire a dedicated and reputable customs broker. Someone that will handle the selection of Harmonised System (HS) codes, obtain Preferential Certificates of Origin (PCO), and manage all other documentary requirements in importing your goods has to be ultimately reliable or it will cost you a great deal.
The benefits of working with a great customs broker cannot be overstated. Many companies spend a lot of time and effort in finding a reliable and trustworthy broker because they understand the risks involved in the mismanagement of import processes.
How to Find a Great Customs Broker
Customs brokerage firms and independent customs brokers can be easily found anywhere. In fact, there is a vast array of firms ready to provide customs services. The challenge, however, is in determining who to choose among these firms to ensure great service. Here are some tips you can use to find the right customs broker for you.
1. Look for someone with experience in your industry
Not all brokers are experienced with providing services to certain industries and dealing with specific government offices so make sure to choose one with a proven experience in handling your specific need. Importing or exporting certain types of goods can be easier with the help of an experienced broker than a general customs brokering service provider. It will help you save a lot of time and money in the process.
2. Research and do your due diligence
Do not just rely on recommendations and make sure to do your own research. Shop around for names and create a shortlist of competitive firms for your consideration. Make a list of four or five customs brokers and find out everything you can about them—reputation, reviews, pricing, past clients, and other related information. This will help you weight out the options and make a wise decision.
3. Deal only with licensed customs brokers
Their license should be the first thing you should look for before entering into any transaction relating to your import needs. This is a no-brainer but this is often overlooked by some. Make sure that they are allowed to conduct service in your jurisdiction.
4. Find One with a Dedicated Brokering Team
Many big firms also offer other related services causing some doubts on the side of the clients’ as to the company’s priorities. Reputable companies who offers other services prove that they are able to grow in the industry and create a wider range of services for their clients’ convenience. However, you have to make sure that the firm of your choice has a dedicated team for customs brokering with the right expertise that you need and that you can trust.
5. Be critical in filtering promises
Do not easily trust the words of a customs broker, especially if it makes you feel like the process can be perfected. Real-case scenarios include delays and plan adjustments especially in large import volumes. Be perceptive of the words of your broker and opt for one that can give you a more honest assessment of your needs.
6. Opt for a fully-automated broker
Customs filing is already electronic, but there are still customs brokers that utilise manual billing and paper updates from the government. This often results in data and information not updated regularly. Choose one that is fully-automated, not only in documents filing but in other areas of communication.
7. Choose one that fits the size of your business and imports
For some, the best choice is going for large customers brokerage companies because they have all the necessarily facilities and network for a more efficient representation. However, some experts argue that small-to-medium businesses can benefit more from hiring small-to-medium customs brokers. If your broker deals with big companies with great import values, chances are they are giving them more attention.
8. Find one with offices in your concerned ports
When importing through multiple ports, it is easier to choose a customs broker with a dedicated partner or, better yet, an office on those ports. Choosing one who relies only on networks and subcontractors may cause you problems like documents getting lost in the process, big delays, and other problems.
9. Find one willing to draw up a contract
When you are about to work with a customs broker, make sure to draw a contract first. This is to protect both parties and your assets in the process. Work agreements must be clearly stipulated in paper and must include the nitty-gritty details of the job. If a customs broker objects, you may consider looking for a new one.
10. Ask a lot of questions
A customs broker who is sincere in working with you is willing to talk to you first and answer your queries. So before you make your choice, make sure to get in touch with everyone in your shortlist and ask as many customs clearance related questions to help you in your decision-making.
Once you find a great customs broker, work with them well and keep your mind that while they work as representative of your business, the smooth operations of your enterprise remains to be your responsibility and monitoring imports regularly is a part of it.
Knowing the tips can help you avoid nuisance and delays.
We are here to help if you have any concerns about customs clearance.