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Should you hire a customs broker for clearance? Pros and Cons
It is often tiresome and lengthy to import or export goods. Many times, inexperienced importers are caught in a deadlock due to confusion. Hence, it is unsurprising that importers always look for ways to shorten their import process. To achieve this, many importers engage the services of customs brokers.
This article provides insight on whether you need to hire a customs broker for your clearance process. It also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of hiring a customs broker.
Who is a Customs Broker?
A customs broker is someone hired to assist an exporter or importer with clearing their goods through the Customs Authority. The customs broker often undertakes tasks like filling clearance documents, acting as a middleman between the importer and government agencies, and ensuring that the imports meet all customs requirements.
Pros of Hiring a Customs Broker
As stated earlier, there are many benefits importers can gain from engaging the services of a customs broker. They include:
Knowledge Advantage: Customs brokers are usually experienced. They have cleared goods multiple times and are more familiar with the clearance process. More so, up-to-date knowledge is vital in the clearance process. This situation is because customs authorities tend to change their requirements regularly. Customs brokers know this, so they stay updated with relevant laws and requirements. Thus, hiring customs brokers will ensure your clearance process is delegated to an experienced and up-to-date person.
Stress-free Importation: If your goal as an importer solely focuses on your business or customers, hiring a customs broker is best for you. Customs brokers undertake every step of your clearance process without your involvement. They interact with government agencies on your behalf, fill and submit necessary forms, and follow through with your shipment until the Customs Authority releases the goods. These services take the weight of importation off your shoulders. More importantly, you can focus on your business.
Guidance for Preparation: The work of a customs broker does not start when you ship your goods into the country. On the contrary, the customs broker will guide you before your import process starts. This guidance includes advice on the documents you need and the required registrations. For example, UK customs brokers will likely advise you to obtain an EORI number before your goods enter the UK territory.
Best Cost Estimations: While you must pay duties and charges to clear your goods, some countries have schemes that reduce these payments. Since customs brokers are more current and experienced, they tend to know how you can get duty reductions. This strategy will help you import your goods with reduced charges.
Cons of Using a Customs Broker
While hiring a customs broker is generally beneficial, the hiring costs will add to your import expenses. Thus, deciding on your cost range and sticking with it is advisable. More importantly, try to engage affordable brokers.
Checks are Required:Some countries do not provide a licensing process for customs brokers. The United States has a specific license for customs brokers, while the UK does not. This lack of license can make finding a trusted customs broker challenging. In this case, importers will be responsible for conducting background checks on brokers to avoid getting duped or receiving poor services.
Less Control Over Shipments: As stated earlier, the customs broker takes over the entire shipment process. This outcome will significantly reduce your control over your shipment. While this is not necessarily bad, some importers prefer being in complete control of their shipment's movements.
Despite the cons of hiring a customs broker, there is no doubt that the pros outweigh the cons. The services of a customs broker often turn out to be beneficial during the clearance process. However, you should always conduct checks before hiring a broker. This way, you can ensure you get your money's worth with the broker's services.