If you own or run a business that regularly ships goods in and out of the country, you know first hand how frustrating the whole customs process can be. Clearing goods through customs is often a time-consuming process, and if your load is held up for any reason that could mean production delays or empty shelves and a costly halt to your business operations.It’s for these reasons that many businesses use customs brokers to help facilitate the customs process and keep things moving along smoothly.
What Is a Customs Broker?A customs broker is someone licensed by the Canada Border Service Agency who is trained to help importers work through all the various rules and regulations of Canada Customs. Basically, a licensed customs broker helps importers clear goods through customs with any hang ups or delays. Properly licensed customs brokers have the power to clear goods that come in by plane, boat or truck, so virtually every business would benefit from utilizing their services.
Increased ServiceIn the modern business world, many customs brokers are adding to their normal range of services. The information that customs brokers gain from clearing goods has inspired many to create new services that may help an importer develop a new product line, explore a new market, trim expenses or evaluate the nature of the importing business as a whole. As more customs brokers continue to expand their list of services, the benefits to importers will also continue to rise.
How to Select a BrokerFor many importers, the world of customs brokers is brand new and a little intimidating. That’s why it’s a good idea to ask lots of questions when you are looking for a broker for the first time. Asking questions will help you to narrow the field and find a customs broker that’s right for your business. Here are some questions to ask to point you in the right direction.
Are you experienced with the type of goods my business imports?Do you have a particular area of expertise?Do you have references I can contact?How will you inform me of any regulatory changes that will affect my shipments?What information or data do you need from me to get started?Will we have a contract that clearly defines both of our responsibilities?What kind of security options do you offer?How much do you charge?How do you come up with your pricing?Do I need to give you a deposit?What is the procedure when you release my goods?Can I have a detailed list of all my costs?What are my payment options?Do you have any information about exporting to Canada that I can share with my suppliers?Will I receive monthly reports on my imports?
You will probably be able to think of more questions as you go along, but these are a good start. Take the time to talk to a handful of different broker services so you can start to get an idea of which ones have the best rates and policies for your situation.Once you do choose a broker, you’ll be required to provide information about the type of goods you import, where they are manufactured and by whom, who the end user is what the end use of the products will be.
The ProcessWhen you use a customs broker to help bring your goods into the country, the process is relatively simple. There are only a few steps that the broker takes to help your imports through, but these steps are crucial to keep the goods flowing into the country without incident.First, the customs broker will receive a clearance request. The transport company shipping the goods from the US will pick up the goods from the supplier and stick a barcode sticker on the invoice for the shipment. The details for the border crossing are faxed to the customs broker before the shipment arrives.Next, the broker reports the shipment and details to Canada Customs using the Cargo Control number. When the shipment arrives at the border, the customs officer scans the barcode to verify the shipment and then release it into the country for delivery.Canada Customs chooses shipments randomly for examination and having incomplete or missing paperwork is one way to increases the chances of this happening. Using a broker keeps everything in order, which keeps the shipment moving along without delays.