International shipping is a complicated process requiring international traders to go through myriad policies and regulations. To ensure that the import and export process run smoothly, international traders often rely on a customs broker to make the process run smoothly.
What is a Customs Broker?
A customs broker facilitates the exporting and importing of goods with foreign nations that are subject to customs restriction and inspection. These commodities shipments could be small or large and include both perishable and non-perishable products.
Some brokers work as independent contractors who render services for different companies. Customs broker companies and international freight forwarders are usually considered the most employers of professional customs brokers. However, customs brokers also usually work for trade authorities, shipping firms, and export and import companies.
A common assumption is that custom brokers are the same as custom clearance agents. Customs clearance agents’ jobs are normally located at leading airports and harbors with heavy global trade activity. Custom brokers are employed by private sectors while custom agents are government workers. But in other countries, these terms are interchangeable.
Roles and Duties of a Customs Broker
A customs broker typically serves as the primary liaison between the exporter, importer, and the government agencies. His specialization may be in particular types of goods such as food, clothing, or just focus on approving and authorizing the crews of huge cargo or container vessels.
One huge part of the job of a customs broker is preparing important documents based on strict guidelines. Before items are shipped to their respective destinations, documents on customs restrictions, taxes, and duty terms should be correctly and fully completed. If customs authorities find out any fault, errors, or omissions in the documents, the goods are typically are confined until the customs broker corrects the issues. In general, complete and correct paperwork requires full payment of all charges prior to the release of the shipment.
The requirements for Importing and exporting vary greatly. A customs broker is required to be well knowledgeable regarding these guidelines and policies and continually informed of any changes to such terms and conditions. Typically, a customs clearance broker receives regular updates through email to make sure he is aware of the changes in global trade procedures and policies. This information normally come from nations around the globe and often pertain to the movement of drugs, foods, animals, plants, and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables.
Being well informed and updated of the most current importing and exporting requirements significantly helps eliminate confiscation of goods and shipping delays. Often, these obstacles are costly to the merchants involved. A strategic and knowledgeable customs broker could sometimes negotiate an extension for the clearance of goods until proper documentation is completed.
Requirements to Become a Customs Broker
There are no required educational attainments in order to be a customs broker. A bachelor’s degree in economics or global trade is often preferred. Many trade school, colleges, and universities offer courses in customs brokerage. Most customs clearance brokers are required to pass background check and other tests before they get hired.
Some countries such as the United States require customs brokers to be licensed. Customs broker licenses in the United States are issued by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and license applicants need to be U.S. citizens, 21 years of age and pass the broker’s exam. CBP then conducts a multi-layer review process including background investigation. It takes anywhere from 8-12 months to complete a license application.
Recommended Books on How to Become a Customs Broker:
- Customs Broker Exam Study Guide & How to Start Your Own CHB Business: Thru Apr. 2013 Exam Edition
- US Customs Broker Handbook: Regulations, Procedures, Opportunities (World Business and Investment Library)
- International Trade Importing/Exporting: Becoming a Licensed Customs Broker: “Start a Profitable Import/Export Business
- Mastering Import & Export Management