What is a Customs Broker?
A Customs Broker is a highly trained import professional licensed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to conduct business on behalf of importers. Given apower of attorney, Customs Brokers act as an agent for business, which import products into the United Sates. This includes government agencies such as FDA, Agriculture, and Fish & Wildlife. A Customs Broker must have thorough knowledge of tariff schedules and Customs regulations and must be well informed of any amendments made through constant changes in the law and administrative regulations.
Acquiring a licence as a Customs Broker is a difficult process. A Customs Broker must first pass a test conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, regarding the laws and regulations pertaining to the entry of goods into the United States. The test is followed by a comprehensive background investigation conducted by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Every licensed Customs Broker must file a bond with U.S. Customs and be bonded as well -- a requirement upon the issuance of a Customs Brokers License. A Customs Broker's license is valid nationwide, however each Broker must secureaCustoms House Brokerage Permitfor each Customs District, in which they intend to operate. As an additional requirement called"responsible supervision", each Customs Broker must have a licensed person located in each Customs District in order to be permitted in that District.
Many Customs Brokers(ourselves included)maintain relationships with other"associate"Customs Brokers around the U.S. allowing a Broker to clear cargo through U.S. Customs for any client, at any port of entry. This entails no additional costs for a client since the work and the fees charged are allocated to each Customs Broker on a shared basis. With all the changing rules and regulations in cross-border transactions, it makes good business sense to use a customs broker.
What is the advantage of using a Customs Broker?
The main task of your Customs Broker is to take care of all the details that facilitate the entry of your shipment into the United States. This involves regular contact with U.S. Customs and the Carriers. Business relationships with U.S. Customs officers and Carriers' employees create a familiarity with shipment processes, which in turn helps in identifying potential issues that may cause a delay in clearance for your shipment.
Many Brokers (our partnered Customs Borkers included) help clients decide on modes of transportation and appropriate carriers, a task which requires analyses of various points of data. In addition to this service, assist in assigning the best shipment routes, preparing cost estimates, Letter of Credit consulting, cargo insurance, packaging, and assistance in dealing with other regulatory agencies. A Custom Broker's operations often transcends U.S. Customs, calling for contact with more than 40 other U.S. government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on meat importation, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on vehicle emission standards, or the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on product safety; to name a few.
Some of the services may include:
- Assistance in transportation arrangements from the vendor in the country of origin, to your door.
- Suggestions regarding packing and labeling.
- Placing cargo insurance on your purchase to protect your interests in case of loss, damage, or pilferage.
- Ensuring that you are aware of Customs regulations regarding Country of Origin marking and other important facts that may affect your merchandise when it arrives in the United States.
- Classifying your merchandise and maintaining knowledge of changes in classification practices that could affect the duties applicable to your entry.
- Analyzing your import program to determine costs of packing, transport, entry, and delivery to yourself or your customers.
- Providing ongoing consultations to improve and simplify your importing program.
There are several things a trained and experienced Customs Broker can do for an importer. As our Customs Broker establishes a long-term relationship with you and your business, you will find that a Customs Broker is actually similar to your CPA or Attorney
Most Customs Brokers are licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission asOcean Transport Intermediaries(OTI). This allows them to establish a network of contacts within the freight community, thus allowing them better assist you in shipping your goods globally.
- A Customs Broker ensures that the importer meets the requirements of the CBP and Homeland Security. Customs and Border Protection have embarked on an aggressive method of checking compliance, targeting all importers taking advantage of NAFTA, duty reductions, and other duty relief programs.
- A Customs Broker enables the importer to take advantage of NAFTA and other trade agreement opportunities, which can result in reduced duties and taxes, thus causing a significant impact on the firm's bottom line.
- A Customs Broker stays informed of the growing number of rules, regulations, and conditions that allow the importer to qualify for NAFTA.
- A Customs Broker provides the prompt delivery of goods, which is critical for good client service.
- Customs Brokers make it unnecessary for importers to employ staff with specialized customs knowledge. This allows the importer to concentrate on revenue generating core competencies.
- Customs Brokers manage peaks and valleys of importing volumes, creating automated entry documents from previously classified goods. Though clerical in nature, this work requires knowledge of customs entry regulations.
- Customs Brokers provide post-entry work that may take the form of a refund or other payment amendment request to the CBP. Changes in information regarding the description, value, quantity or origin of the imported goods often requires further research and processing.
- Customs Brokers provide shipping advice, monitoring and tracking of goods.
- IT support
- Hardware/Software maintenance costs
- Personnel and associated overheads
- Customs Brokers have access to new technology, which in turn gives importers the ability to gain control over importing information without taking on the function (e.g. web-based trade information management solutions).
- Customs broker fees are usually only a small portion of a company's overall importing expenses
Can we import our goods without the services of a Customs Broker?
You can import up to $2,000.00 without the assistance of a Customs Broker. However, acceptance of your declaration or request is subject to the discretion of the officer. With a signed Power of Attorney, an individual or a company representative can complete the Customs Declaration on behalf of the said company or a single importer. By completing the Customs Declaration the individual is essentially declaring the entry is 100% correct. If any information provided to U.S. Customs and Border Protection is incorrect, Penalties can and will be issued.
Do I need a Customs Broker for personal goods?
No, you are not required to have a Customs Broker to assist you in clearing your shipment through U.S. Customs & Border Protection. You may choose to have your shipment cleared on your own but approval of your application will always be subject to the discretion of the attending U.S. Customs Officer.
What does it cost to use a Customs Broker?
A Customs Broker fee is usually a set rate. Otherwise a fee is agreed upon between the Brokerage and the Client.
If our company uses the services of a competing Customs Broker, what steps are involved with switching to use Maritime Logistics, Inc.?
Changing Customs Brokers to use the services of Maritime Logistics, Inc.'s partnered Customs Brokers is extremely simple. You would have to forward Maritime Logistics, Inc. a completed and valid Power of Attorney, which will be provided by us. The partnered Customs Brokerage team at Maritime Logistics, Inc. will then assist you in notifying carriers, your shippers and vendors accordingly
What paperwork is required?
The paperwork necessary to clear your shipment include the following:
- Bill of Landing.
- Commercial Invoice.
- Packing List.
The invoice must be completed properly showing the:
- Country of origin.
- Detailed description of the goods.
- Total amount of the goods.
- Currency used.
- Certain goods will require additional documentation, please contact us for more information.
How do I pay Duties and Taxes?
Once you begin working with Maritime Logistics, Inc. along with our partnered Customs Brokers a credit account is created for your company. Maritime Logistics, Inc. can pay on your behalf for any monies owing related to the duties and taxes applicable to each processed shipment. Your company will be issued an invoice covering all duties, taxes and fees incurred for these shipments. Maritime Logistics, Inc. will require immediate and full payment of these invoices after clearance.
We can also assist you in setting up an ACH Account for your Customs Duty Fee's. This service provided by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol allows you to enjoy a 30-day payment margin, after which the fees are automatically deducted from your bank account.
What makes Maritime Logistics, Inc. stand above other partnered Customs Brokers?
Maritime logistics, Inc. partners with a team of experienced and service-oriented Customs Broker professionals who have a positive attitude towards working with each client. We understand that your shipment is of utmost importance to your business. Quite simply:
- We offer quality service.
- We offer a service for which we have significant experience.
- We have an excellent track record, for which our clients will vouch.
- We have a worldwide network of offices and agents, thus allowing us to offer you the most competitive freight costs.
- We go to great lengths, within reason, to maintain our business relationship with your company.
Can a shipper/exporter from Canada take responsibility for all the fees associated when goods are exported from Canada?
Yes, an exporter out of Canada may be the"Importer of Record"for products entering the United States. A bond will be applied and a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol assigned number requested identifying the foreign-based company to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol as doing business in the United States. The"Importer of Record"is liable and responsible for any declarations and penalties. Please keep in mind that there are many rules and regulations that apply making it extremely tedious in keeping track of all the necessary forms. In our humble opinion, it makes good business sense to have professionals like Maritime Logistics, Inc.'s partnered Customs Brokers handle all your Customs needs for you.
Should our Company use several different Customs Brokers depending on the mode of transportation or the location of entry?
Maritime Logistics, Inc. with our partnered Customs Brokers do NOT recommend this practice. Employing a single Brokerage Firm helps build rapport and a solid business relationship with your Customs Broker, allowing them to become familiar with your imported goods. Utilizing more than one Customs House Brokerage leaves a company exposed to potential errors in turn leading to heavy fines by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol which may lead to a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol audit. The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol views an importer as a single"account", and therefore all shipments regardless of the Carrier, mode of transportation or Port of Entry are applied to the account associated with the company's business.
When shipping goods by courier, is it recommended that we use the customs brokerage services provided by that of a courier even though we use a different customs broker for our truck, air and sea freight shipments?
Maritime Logistics, Inc. with our partnered Customs Brokers do NOT recommend this practice either. We recommend that a company only use a single Customs Broker, allowing them to become familiar with your imported goods. Utilizing more than one Customs Broker may leave your company exposed to potential errors, which in turn lead to heavy fines by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol and again, may lead to a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol audit.
At which Customs Ports can Maritime Logistics, Inc. clear goods?
Maritime logistics, Inc. with our partnered Customs Brokers provides Customs Brokerage services at any United States port of entry for all Ocean, Air or Land Import or Export shipments. In today's advanced technology, physical, local agents are rarely required, given that a centralized operations business model is more beneficial to a client.
Are there restrictions on what items can be imported into the United States?
Yes, there are several things needing to be taken into account with U.S. Customs & Border Patrol and Homeland Security enforcing all rules and regulations governed by all other government agencies. Various items are and can be prohibited from entering the United States if they do not meet the necessary requirements and criteria.
Can Maritime Logistics, Inc. review my entries done by other Customs Brokers to ensure compliance?
Maritime Logistics, Inc.'s with our partnered experienced Customs Brokers can thoroughly review your previous customs entries and provide appropriate solutions and recommendations. Of course, you will need to supply copies of your U.S. Customs and Border Patrol invoices or commercial invoices, as well as the supporting U.S. Customs and Border Patrol forms and any other Customs Brokerage paperwork.
What if my current Customs Broker misclassifies my goods?
It is the sole responsibility of the Importer of Record to make sure that the Harmonized Tariff Classification applied is correct. If the incorrect Harmonized Tariff Classification is applied to your goods, including overpayments or underpayments of duty to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, there may be severe consequences leading to potential penalties and interest charges, further scrutiny and delays of your shipments, and the possibility of a full U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Audit. In addition, your import privileges could be suspended by the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
Maritime Logistics, Inc.'s with our partnered Customs Brokers will be pleased to assist you in the proper classification and reporting of your goods, with the necessary information given regarding the product. Our partnered Brokers will further review your entries and ensure that all steps have been taken to properly comply with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol regulations and tariffs.
Is Maritime Logistics, Inc. able to assist with the exporting of goods out of the United States?
Maritime Logistics, Inc. with our partnered Customs Brokers has an experienced team specifically to assist with the preparation of documents and proper transportation when shipping out of the United States.
Can Maritime Logistics, Inc. assist in making transportation arrangements for our goods?
Maritime Logistics, Inc. with our partnered Customs Brokers works with many of our clients to assist in making import, export and domestic transportation arrangements for goods moving by sea, air, truck or rail seamless. Our dedicated team of experienced professionals is always available to assist you in transporting your goods in turn helping you meet both your required sensitive timelines and budget.
Can Maritime Logistics, Inc. educate my staff and me on responsibilities, documentation requirements and regulations of customs procedures?
Maritime Logistics, Inc. with our partnered Customs Brokers are always available and willing to educate any of its existing and potential clients on various U.S. Customs and Border Patrol policies, procedures, rules and regulations. In addition, Pegasus Maritime, Inc. can build individually tailored presentations specific to your company.
How can I receive more information about Maritime Logistics, Inc.?
Please visit the Contact Us page or send an E-Mail to: Info@MaritimeLogs.com and we will be happy to answer any of your questions or concerns personally.