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Understanding the Value of a Competent Customs Broker

Engaging a customs broker is a must for any organization that regularly imports goods from overseas suppliers.

A customs broker is an expert in the field of international trade and is licensed to act on behalf of importers by the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. The primary role of the customs broker is to ensure that the goods are imported in compliance with the relevant government regulations and that the correct amount of duty and tax is calculated and paid on importation.

While there is no legal requirement to appoint a customs broker to handle the customs clearance of imported goods, customs brokers streamline the importation process and ensure your goods are imported in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

A competent customs broker will:

  • Advise of any import restrictions or regulatory requirements that must be met prior to the importation of the goods – import permits, labelling requirements, certificates of origin, etc.
  • Ensure that all of the relevant import documents are provided by suppliers prior to the arrival of the goods. They will also asses the documents for completeness / compliance before submitting the documents with the customs entry to enable the customs clearance of the goods
  • Minimize the amount of duty that is paid on importation – a customs broker will ensure that the correct value is used as the basis for calculating duty. They will also ensure the goods are properly classified in accordance with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule and that the proper rate of duty is applied. An incorrect classification can result in too much duty being paid but can also result in not enough duty being paid. While it is possible to obtain a refund if too much duty is paid, paying too little duty can result in a fine and possible legal action by the CBP due to duty avoidance
  • Reduce the time and the costs associated with the importation process.  Creating and lodging a customs entry can be complex and time consuming experience for the uninitiated. The goods cannot be removed from the port and subsequently used for their intended purpose (to sell or as an input for manufacturing) until the formal customs clearance process is completed. Delays can not only impact the time it takes for the goods to be available to use but can also result in storage charges being incurred
  • Continue to provide advice in relation to any changes to regulatory requirements or legislation that may impact on the future importation of the goods

There will be a cost associated with hiring a customs broker. However, for the time that is saved, the additional costs that are unlikely to be incurred, and the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you are complaint from a legal standpoint, the price is usually money well spent.

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