There are several companies that specialize in customs trade compliance consulting. The complexities of importing and exporting through the borders of the United States coupled with the "reasonable care" that U.S. companies are required to exercise in regards to federal regulations make it almost impossible to conduct business outside of the country without the assistance of a customs trade consultant. To ensure the highest level of compliance and understanding of international trade regulations, better customs trade compliance firms have a licensed Customs House Broker on staff or contracted.

What is a Licensed Customs House Broker?

A licensed Customs House Broker is usually a lawyer who specializes in customs trade regulations and laws. In the United States, they are licensed by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency after a background check and examination. A Custom House Broker has the expertise in import documentation necessary to clear freight through customs. Depending on the business and products being imported, it is usually necessary to coordinate clearance with additional government agencies such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or various other applicable government agencies that establish regulations on different kinds of products. The Customs House Broker is generally the cornerstone of any customs trade compliance department or customs trade compliance consulting firm.

What are Some Types of Documentation that a Customs House Broker Handles?

Businesses that import into or export out of the United States have several types of documentation to provide to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency as well as to various other agencies responsible for allowing different types of products to go out of or into the country. The actual forms will vary between the federal agencies but essentially involve declarations, tariff calculations and payment of duties and fees. There are also certain licenses that have to be obtained before engaging in international trade that the customs house broker will handle.

What Kind of Customs House Broker Should I Consult for My Business?

Custom House Brokers can be very specialized in their area of import and export expertise. Some specialize in foods, textiles, clothing or various other kinds of goods. The easiest way to ensure that you have the appropriate type of broker is to contract a customs trade consulting firm with a good reputation in the applicable industry. Although essential, the customs house broker is but one contributing factor to proper trade compliance. There are other key factors that must be addressed within the company’s operations that a customs trade compliance consultant will address to ensure compliance.

Why Do I Need a Customs Trade Compliance Consultant?

In addition to ensuring all the necessary documentation is expedited by the customs house broker, a customs trade compliance consulting firm will ensure that customs trade compliance is observed throughout the company’s operations. Proper compliance is never achieved as a final step solely but is incorporated into various levels of operation. This is achieved by formulating processes to be implemented by the company employees and training them to adhere to practices that will fulfill federal guidelines.

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