Why Do I Need a Customs Broker?

If your business is planning on importing a product, you’ve probably been told to work with a Customs broker. And if you are new to international trade you might be asking yourself, “What’s a Customs broker?”

A Customs broker is a professional service provider. Licensed by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a Customs broker has an expert understanding of Customs regulations, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and the Free Trade Agreements currently in effect with 20 countries around the world. A Customs broker also has an expert understanding of the many Partner Government Agencies that may have jurisdiction over the importation of your product.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the federal agency responsible for preventing illegal products from entering the country and collecting duties due on legal products entering the country. No product can enter the United States without the permission of CBP.

It is the responsibility of the importer to make a declaration to Customs of what is being imported, where it comes from, and how much it costs. When Customs is satisfied that all of the importer’s obligations are met, Customs releases the product for entry into the territory of the United States. This is referred to as the entry process.

A Customs broker can perform many different services for a business or individual that imports products into the United States, but the core service is filing the Customs entry. All of the steps in the entry process have to happen before Customs will “release” your shipment for delivery. In short, you can’t have your product until Customs is satisfied that all of your legal requirements have been met. During the entry process, duty is calculated and paid. Customs regulations are extremely complicated, with special provisions and exceptions that may or may not apply depending on what you are importing, how it is made, where it comes from, and how it will be used.

Because you are an expert on your business, you rely on your Customs broker to be an expert on Customs regulations, the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and the relevant Free Trade Agreements.

You also rely on your Customs broker to understand your business and your product, in order to advise you on how to use every means available to minimize your duty liability. And in the modern world of international trade, importing and exporting is increasingly technology dependent and data driven. Electronic communication with Customs (and Partner Government Agencies) is vital. Technology changes fast, so you rely on your Customs broker to maintain the most updated communications technology with all the relevant government agencies.

At C J, we set ourselves apart from other Customs brokers because we take the time to get to know your business and your product. We also take the time to get to know you and your people. Because you have to place a lot of trust in your Customs broker, we believe having a personal relationship and investing in a long-term partnership is important to earning that trust. Our people are smart and dedicated, and will treat your freight as if it were their own. Whether your shipment is several full containers or a single pallet, we know you have a lot riding on your shipment, and we’ll be with you every step of the way. At C J, we take your success personally.

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