Because of the complexity involved with importing and exporting goods, many companies use customs brokers to act as their agents. Customs brokers clear shipments of imported goods, prepare required documentation for export shipments and collect duties and taxes. They act as an intermediary between importers and the government, helping companies deal with legislation.
But how do you find the right customs broker for your company? The following is a list of questions you should consider when selecting a customs broker or a consultant:
- Does the broker have an ISO certification?
- Does the broker specialize in certain commodities or shipping methods?
- How long has the broker been in business?
- What is the broker’s level of financial stability?
- Does the broker offer sole point of contact (SPOC) to reduce customs entry errors?
- What resources does the broker have to ensure speedy clearance and delivery of goods?
- How does the broker advise clients of delays in handling or clearance, and will the broker off suggestions on how to avoid such delays?
- What kind of physical facilities does the broker have?
- What kind of security systems and procedures does the broker have?
- What is the insurance coverage carried by the broker for facilities and operations?
- What assistance does the broker offer in terms of records maintenance?
- Does the broker have computerized or EDI systems that expedite document preparation and transmittal, and/or that expedite customs clearance?
- Can the broker’s performance bond be used to provide the necessary surety coverage?
- What are the terms of payment and financial arrangements?
- Where are the offices of the broker located?
- With what degree of interest and attention does the broker service small accounts?