What You Need to Know about US Customs Brokers

Expanding your business beyond the border can be challenging initially as it can cause a lot of stress but can be alleviated by having a US Customs Broker as part of your team. 

To start any process of importation into the United States, or in other words, introducing any goods that will be sold to the American market, it is important to consider the following points: customs broker role, benefits of a partnership, estimated clearance period, and more. Our experts have answered FAQ concerning customs brokerage and how to achieve the best result! If your questions are not included in our list, feel free to message us here… Let us begin our walkthrough of essential concepts to your international commerce. 

What is a Customs Broker?

Customs brokers can be private individuals, partnerships, associations, or corporations that are licensed, regulated, and empowered by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to represent and assist importers and exporters to comply with Federal requirements governing imports. 

What does a Customs Broker do?

A customs broker assumes an important role in the growth of any business that wants to transcend and commercialize in new international markets. Why? They help businesses through their expertise to ultra-simplify the complexity of clearing shipments past Customs under 500 pages of Customs regulations and requirements and more than thousands of tariff considerations. Therefore, the customs broker you decide to work with must be an expert in customs compliance and serve as a consultant to guarantee that your business will reach its goals and objectives.

Do I really need a Customs Broker?

According to CBP authority, Article Number 000001169:

“There is no legal requirement for you to hire a Customs Broker to clear your goods. However, many importers opt to do so for convenience (…)They take the burden of filling out paperwork and obtaining a CBP bond off of the importer’s hands. The importer is always ultimately responsible for knowing CBP requirements and for ensuring their importation complies with all federal rules and regulations, but using a Customs Broker can save you from making costly mistakes.

If your goods are being imported via an express courier (Fed-Ex, DHL), the courier automatically utilizes Customs Brokers to clear your goods on your behalf.” Continue reading here.

Why should hire a Customs Broker?

In simple words, working with a Customs Broker makes commercial sense. Let´s look into the facts:

  1. Reduced costs: Customs brokerage requires a broad knowledge of tariff classification, duty rates, and other related charges or regulated requirements. Advice and consultation are essential. They can also accelerate your processing with early receipt of shipping documentation or similar strategies to avoid unnecessary expenses. 
  2. Minimise Duty: An expert brokerage will enable you to take advantage of trade agreements. You will be able to see a significant impact on your bottom line. Your goods may qualify for duty concessions, ask your Customs broker about policies and procedures! 
  3. Risk Management: Broker specialists stay updated on all changes pertaining to the vast field of customs compliance that includes rules, regulations, and conditions that apply to your importation which is critical to have a smooth clearance process and eliminate the possibility of any kind of potential monetary penalties or loss of merchandise.
  4. Flexible staffing: Having a customs specialist on-site or patent can be time-consuming and a big investment. For growing businesses, it is more convenient to work alongside a customs brokerage firm to alleviate their need to import and concentrate only on revenue-generating core activities. 
  5. Post-entry work: Any changes regarding description, value or other specifications for further processing may create unnecessary delays without agile expertise. We also recommend talking to a customs broker about refund processing and other payment amendment requests that may be part of your importation.  

How do I find a Customs Broker?

We highly recommend only working with licensed brokers registered and permitted by CBP, you can access their database here to confirm and locate the broker closest to your location or port of entry here.

You can find ours in Otay Mesa, California area on page 2 under the name “FRANCISCO GONZALEZ DBA G-BROKER” with Broker File Code 8WS. Try the following exercise here.

What documents do I need to import goods?

Depending on the nature and complexity of your import will define the documents CBP will need to safely and efficiently clear your goods across the border. Initially, you will be required to present the following:

  • Commercial Invoice
  • Bill of Lading or Air Waybill
  • Country of Origin Marking

How long does customs clearance take?

Most clearances take about 2-3 days and can even be shortened to a few hours. With your first entries, Customs will take their time to become familiar with your business and products therefore, expect an extended clearance period. 

What other considerations should I have in mind?

Regulatory Agencies: 

In addition to CBP´s green light for clearance, your product may be obliged to meet the approval requirements from other regulatory agencies. This may include Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), for example. If you choose to work with a Customs Broker, they will help you meet any further obligations.  

Penalties:

Although your Customs Broker is a facilitator to reaching customs clearance and provides professional help, they completely rely on their client in providing accurate and honest information in order to pay duties and import taxes. If Customs issues a penalty because of incomplete or misleading information, you will be receiving and paying it as responsible. 

Can G-Global educate my staff and me on responsibilities, documentation, requirements, and regulations of customs procedures?

We are more than happy to help your business grow and optimize your brokerage processing with personalized training and consultation from our specialists. We can schedule a meeting to discuss any customs topic of your interest and share valuable insight!  

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Start growing your business today with the support of our experts in logistics.