Picking the Right US Customs Broker

There are several customs brokers throughout the United States that can handle your cargo whether you have shipped before or you are already using a global shipping company. Finding the best fit to match up with your company just takes a little effort. Since this broker will be a liaison between your company and US Customs, you will need to find out details about them before you can trust them to handle your clearance. Will they be able to handle the volume of shipments at a reasonable cost, how will they assist you in making your customs clearance run smoothly, and are they available when your shipments are coming in? More often than not, the customs brokers you are interviewing will be more than forthright with their limitations including how advanced they are in technology. In fact, many of the larger brokerage companies will be able to accommodate paperless clearance as well as keeping your documents online and accessible as backup. Some will even archive them for you by year. These companies will also charge more to have these services so you may take that into account. You will only benefit from these types of services if you are shipping regular shipments to the US. Another service that many brokers offer is a complimentary review of your goods to correctly classify your shipments as they arrive. This is usually done well ahead of when your cargo will ship.

For instance, with a clothing retailer, the broker would come to classify the new line every season so as not to miss any.

As far as finding a broker, the first thing you can do is look up local companies for the area you are shipping to. You may even ask your freight forwarding company for suggestions since sometimes brokers will handle your specific commodity on a large scale and helping you may be part of their freight forwarding services. It is a must to check references and you can find out from customs if their company has any marks against it with respect to following laws, etc. You should also be able to test their knowledge of clearing cargo and they should not be adverse to you asking questions. The more open they are about their business the more you will feel comfortable. If as you are using a company to clear your international shipping containers and you find that you are getting notices from US customs, do not rely solely on your broker to handle. This can be a red flag that your customs broker is not doing their job. The best thing you can do, and your new broker can help you, is to sign up for ACH (direct) payments to customs.

Not only will you only owe small amounts to your broker, but you will be paying customs directly and as such you will know that all payments are made and you will not have delays on future shipments. Another suggestion as you ship more regularly, is that you ask your broker to assist you in getting into the CTPAT program with customs. This is not only a great way to minimize your inspections, but it will help move your cargo through faster when you are inspected.

Once you have met with a few customs brokers, you will have a better understanding of what you need as a shipper and can choose the best fit for your international cargo shipping.

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