Guidelines for Selecting the Right Customs Broker for Your Business

So you need to hire a reliable customs broker for your business? The first thing you need to understand is a professional broker will be an agent for you that provides declarations regarding imports. They deliver these declarations to customs and various other government agencies. These agencies know that the broker acts on your behalf, and they understand that these declarations come from you. Thus, you must hire one that can convey these declarations as accurately as possible. A broker provides the primary service of releasing your shipments from customs and other government agencies that may have jurisdiction over them. For example, suppose you have a massive load of food items coming in. In that case, the broker will contact the Food and Drug department to get your shipment released after paying the necessary custom charges.

It sounds pretty straightforward. However, it is not as easy as it looks or sounds. For example, you have to consider the value of the shipment while taking advantage of non-dutiable charges. The Harmonized tariff contains twenty-two sections and ninety- eight chapters and each with its headnotes. Plus, there are more than twenty-three thousand tariff classifications, which are subject to varying duty rates. What we just said above might fly over your head. Instead of trying to get your head around all these legal things, let a professional broker utilize their experience, allowing you to remain focused on your business. Listed below are a few things to look for when selecting the right customs broker for your business.

Hire a Broker That Has Experience Dealing with Your Industry

Whether you want to export or import specific products, a broker with experience dealing with customs in your industry will be a lot better than going for a general customs broker. A perfect way to find one would be to visit your local customs brokerage agency and ask them to provide you the best services in dealing with customs.

General brokers don’t have the experience necessary to deal with customs in a specific industry, such as government agencies or other customs-related agencies. So, it is of utmost importance that you find a broker who is an expert in your industry, and his/her CV aligns well with your brokerage needs and requirements. Not only will it save you the headache of changing brokers again and again, but it will also let you save some money.

Go for a Broker That Has Good References

When running a business of your own, you do not have the luxury of time to splash the cash on the wrong broker. It is wise to look at examples of businesses failing after hiring the wrong broker and learning from their failures and successes. When looking for a customs broker, looking beyond what they are trying to market to you and research the references they provide.

Due to broker-client confidentiality, it might be hard for the broker to disclose information about their clients. However, you can ask previous clients to provide you some testimonials and reviews of the broker’s services. Doing so will allow you to know if the brokerage services they are trying to sell you are real and help you with customs.

Hire a Broker That Has the Capacity of Handling Your Product Volume

Do you work with a large number of shipments every month? If you say yes, then it is in the best interest to hire a broker who will dedicate all his/her resources and skills exclusively to your business. The broker you wish to hire should know what it takes to handle customs in your industry and fulfill product requirements in the volumes you want.

Find one that matches these requirements. It will ensure the correct utilization of your business’s budget, your time, and your energy. Due to the advent of AED (advanced export declaration) across different countries, it will not be easy for customs brokers to work for multiple clients. Their hands will always be full with your accounts.

Spoil Yourself for Choice

It would help if you never rushed into making important decisions, for example, when hiring a customs broker for your business, among other important business decisions. You would not want to hire a broker without weighing in at least two or three different options. The time you sacrifice in the short-term while interviewing various customs brokers will pay dividends when you find one that does the job for you.

Depending on your customs needs, you should consider the resources, specialization, experience, and, most importantly, compare prices when searching for the right customs broker. After you interview various customs brokers, create a list of pros and cons that each customs broker has to help go with the best possible one.

Never Forget about Drawing up a Contract

When you want to hire a customs broker for your business, drawing up a contract will protect you from all legal issues and keep all your assets secure. Be transparent with your customs broker and agree on a no BS working arrangement while getting everything on record.

If the broker you wish to hire objects to any demands of yours, explain to him that the contract will protect both the broker and yourself from legal action in the future. Other stipulations to add to the agreement include; services, pricing, shipment methods, the ports to use, termination policy, scheduling, and other legal aspects. It will protect both parties and ensure a long-term working relationship.

Ensure That the Broker Has the Willingness to Learn

The world of customs is ever-changing, and new customs policies and tariffs come into effect every other day. One quality to look for in a broker is whether he/she has the ability and willingness to learn about the changing policies in the trade side of the business. Such policy changes happen frequently, and it will affect your business if it relies on selling imported goods.

Who knows, the government ends up enforcing a customs policy that restricts specific goods from entering the country. It will bring down your business like a house on fire. Ensure that the customs broker you want to hire is always learning and staying on his/her feet to tackle the issues that come with these policy changes.


the bottom line is, whether you are an importer or an exporter of products, it is your job to be as accurate as you can with your declarations. After all, it is you who will have to answer for any discrepancies, not your broker. It the why access to accurate information and keeping business operations as tight as possible is a standard customs best-practice. But, don’t even think about dealing with customs yourself, unless you have an education in this field. Other than that, consider these guidelines if you want to hire the best customs broker for your business.


Sudarsan Chakraborty is a professional writer. He contributes to many high-quality blogs. He loves to write on various topics.