evaluating customs brokers

How to Evaluate Customs Brokers

By | 2023-11-08T00:05:46+00:00 November 24th, 2019|U.S. Customs|

Businesses and organizations of all sizes benefit from partnering with a customs brokerage to ensure they clear customs with ease. Whether this is a one time thing, or you import millions of dollars worth of goods each year, any shortcomings to the customs process can result in fines, costly delays, and wasted time! 

If you’re just starting out, click here to read our blog post: What You Need to Know: Importing/Exporting Business Basics

It’s definitely not a secret that trade agreements change with the tides — virtually. The global market is in a state of flux and all eyes are on importers, as customs regulations are getting more stringent. This is where it really pays to work with a broker that brings solid subject matter expertise. 

Working with an experienced customs broker for your imports is one way of ensuring that your goods will move where they need to go without delays or fines. 

That being said, evaluating a customs broker can be tricky, especially if you don’t have the subject matter expertise to know what your broker should be a master of. 

What is the best way to make sure you’re working with the best broker for you? 

Customs brokers work with importers and exporters to help move their goods into the US by complying with Customs and Border Protection (CBP). They’ve got the expertise to help importers comply with regulations, file the appropriate documentation, and make sure all fees and tariffs are paid on time. 

But a great customs broker treats your business like a partnership. They can contextualize your needs based on their previous experience, and keep in mind your business goals to help you get closer to meeting your organizational objectives. 

For the purpose of this piece, let’s start with the basics. What does a customs broker handle, exactly? 

  • Harmonized Tariff Classification System dealings
  • Tariff and trade agreements to get the best duty rate for you
  • Determination of the value and class of your imported goods 
  • Compliance with the applicable regulatory framework
  • Product assessments to determine the duties to be paid 
  • Proper marking on the imported goods (Country of Origin)
  • Duty drawbacks or refunding of fees on certain types of goods
  • … and much more!

“Okay, great! Where can I find a customs broker, then?”

online customs broker

As of 2019, there are over 11,000 customs brokers operating in the US. Of course, there are a few resources you can check out to see if you find the right fit. 

CBP’s list of brokers: The CBP-approved list of customs brokers licensed by CBP. Click here to check it out. 

National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA)’s member directory: Similarly to the CBP’s website, you can sort by location, i.e. port of entry. Click here to access. 

The World Wide Web: Google is definitely your friend! It may be resource intensive, but you can go to each broker’s website and see how they present themselves, reviews, etc. 

Choosing the right customs broker can be a challenge

choosing a broker

There is no set formula for finding the perfect customs broker for you. Make no mistake: finding the right customs broker can be a confusing process, especially if you are new to importing/trade. However, using a combination of all the resources at your fingertips will help you make the best decision in line with your organizational goals. 

As mentioned prior in this piece, there is ample selection out there for customs brokers! In that regard, you should know that you are never stuck with a broker if you feel there is a lack of fit. 

For more information on choosing the right customs broker, you can contact us here to see if we fit the bill!