Whether an importer is in their first year of business, or they’re an established veteran in the industry, it’s never too early or too late to start thinking about investing money in a customs broker.
Regardless the amount of brokerage fees, a customs broker will help mediate between importer and government, which can go a long way to decreasing import costs. A broker has the ability to save importers thousands of dollars by identifying key tax, tariff and duty implementations. In doing so, they provide importers with invaluable insight into a cost-friendly import process.
Of course, depending on an importers overall business needs and expertise, they might be asking brokers completely different questions.
What to expect in a customs broker for a small importer
Small importers, especially those who are new to the industry, usually handle their shipping needs without the help of a customs broker. It’s certainly possible for this to work. A small importer shipping low volumes can apply their own tariff classification, develop contracts, clients and watch as their stock rises.
The problem arises once their volumes begin to grow. Among other things, the original tariff classification will increase, meaning there will need to be some serious adjustments. The whole process becomes time consuming and for a growing importer, it could affect overall growth if they’re handed fines or additional fees for failing to adjust their tariff classification.
The good thing is that small importers don’t necessarily need to employ a customs broker for the entire process. Rather, if you’re a small importer, you can use their services during the planning stages at the beginning of their business journey.
A customs broker may be able to help with:
- Recommending countries of origin to source from
- Determining tariff classification
- Building a positive relationship with U.S. Customs and Border Protection
- Delivering the best solutions and advice on terms
What to expect in a customs broker for medium to large importers
Medium and large importers require a bit more attention, and will benefit from employing the services of a customs broker. These importers should ask deeper, more inquisitive questions in order to find out exactly what the brokers can provide them, like:
- Finding out who will be responsible for their account
- Determining whether they can provide 24-hour, 7 days a week service
- Understanding the breadth of their experience within the industry
- Reaching out to previous clients and learning about their experience
- Determining their knowledge and expertise of the importers products
These are just a few of the essential questions medium to larger sized importers should ask a prospective broker before committing to doing business with them. The reason? Because at this point in the business’ lifespan, you’re dealing with bigger problems than small importers, like:
- Appeals and dispute settlements
- Seizure appeals
- Anti-dumping and countervailing issues
Even if you’re taking your first steps at creating an importing business, or bringing in five millions dollars of revenue through imports, a customs broker will be a crucial aspect to your business strategy. They’ll help you determine important border rules and regulations placed on your import items and find ways to bring in the most revenue, while saving you money in the long run.