Customs broking

Customs broking

Customs brokerage is a profession that involves the 'clearing' of goods through customs barriers for importers and exporters (usually businesses). This involves the preparation of documents and/or electronic submissions, the calculation (and usually the payment) on behalf of the client of taxes, duties and excises, and facilitating communication between the importer/exporter and governmental authorities.

Custom brokers may be employed by or affiliated with freight forwarders, but may be independent businesses or may be employed by shipping lines, importers, exporters, trade authorities and customs brokerage firms.


United States

Customs brokers in the USA will often prepare and submit documentation to notify or obtain the clearance from other government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Fish and Wildlife Service, and many others. Customs brokers need to be familiar with the Tariff Schedule, a listing of duty rates for imported items, and the regulations governing importations found in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 19, known as 19 CFR. For example, a customs broker may need to advise an importer regarding country of origin marking requirements or the precise paperwork requirements for a clothing shipment subject to quota/visa requirements. Knowing the requirements of each type of import can avoid costly delays or seizure of the merchandise. Many customs brokers specialize in certain types of transactions, such as wearing apparel, perishables, or clearing the crew and manifest of large cargo vessels. Customs brokers can be located at inland "ports" to clear merchandise sent "in bond" but most are located at major airports and harbors with international traffic. Customs brokers normally arrange the transhipment, or local delivery, of cleared merchandise through relationships with trucking companies and others. Customs brokers must pass an examination and background check to become licensed. Customs brokers are not government employees and should not be confused with Customs agents, although in some countries the term customs agent may mean customs broker.

In the United States, customs brokers are licensed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

European Union

For customs brokers and clearing agents operating within the European Union, there is no licensing system. The onus is firmly on the importer or exporter to ensure that any party acting on their behalf is in possession of the facts to do so. Article 5 of the current customs code (Council Regulation 2913/1992) deals with the very important area of representation. This provision allows an importer or exporter to appoint a third party to act on their behalf. The importer or exporter can appoint the third party to act in two capacities, i.e. as a direct representative or as an indirect representative. A direct representative will act on behalf of the importer/exporter but will have no responsibility for the customs debt arising from their actions, whereas an indirect representative will have a joint and several liability for the customs debt. In almost all cases, the third party will elect to provide brokerage services on a direct representation basis. As a result the importer or exporter is fully exposed to the risk or error and omission by the customs broker.


In Canada customs brokers are licensed by the Canada Border Service Agency (Canada Customs).[1] The majority of licensed Customs Brokers are members of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers.


In Australia Customs Brokers are licensed by the Australian Customs Service [1] and the majority are members of the Customs Brokers and Forwarders Council of Australia, the peak industry body representing these service providers.


External links

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