The Role of the Broker

A Customs broker (also referred to as a Customhouse broker) provides expert advise to clients on matters involving Customs entry and classification for duty purposes, and issues involving other government agencies which may be involved in the importation of merchandise entering the commerce of the United States. All merchandise shipped globally must clear through Customs and is subject to duties unless specifically exempted by law. A Customs broker ensures the proper entry, inspection, appraisement, classification and processing in order to facilitate the smooth delivery of goods in a manner that meets all relevant regulatory and other requirements. A Customs broker can also arrange the movement of goods both internationally and domestically.
A Customs broker's essential task is the clearing of goods through customs. The broker prepares documents and/or electronic submissions, calculates and pays appropriate taxes and duties in accordance with existing tariffs, and manages the communication between the importer and government authorities.

A Customs broker is also responsible for implementing and upholding all applicable regulations of any government agency involved in the import process. Within the United States these agencies include: Food and Drug Administration, Fish and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Federal Communications Commission, Public Health Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Consumer Product Safety Commission and many more.
The effective Customs broker possesses expert knowledge, is well-trained, and certified in a variety of competencies. They put at the disposal of their clients' vast and growing knowledge in a variety of areas including:

  • Customs regulations and procedures
  • Carriage of goods, including laws relating to ocean and air transportation
  • Methods of packing and stowing goods
  • INCO terms and U.N. Codes.

An efficient Customs broker possesses a unique skill-set. Attention to detail is their consummate talent. They are accurate and well organized, inquisitive, make decisions promptly, learn and adapt quickly while executing client requests. The best broker is an especially good communicator and secure people's trust and maintain information integrity and privacy.
In the United States, the Department of Homeland Security licenses brokers, after successfully passing a written examination. This examination encompasses Customs and related trade laws, regulations and procedures. The examination also ensures the each licensed broker has sufficient competency in accounting, bookkeeping and other skill areas that are necessary for the proper execution of their role.

Additionally, brokers must undergo a thorough personal background investigation in order to establish themselves as persons of good moral character with demonstrated business integrity. This process guarantees that each licensed customhouse broker possesses the knowledge essential for the provision of competent service to importers, and that they do so in a manner that adheres to strict ethical standards.