The Importance of a Good Customs Broker
A customs broker is an integral piece of the China importing process. They are an independent agent who is licensed to clear shipments at the Customs office of the port where your shipment lands (eg., Los Angeles or Chicago).
They are responsible for properly filing import documents such as an ISF (Importer Security Filing) and the Bill of Lading with US customs. It is extremely important that these documents get filed properly and within the legal time frame so that the importer doesn’t get fined or have shipments get delayed at port.
Customs brokers go through extensive training to be able to properly classify a product. They must keep up to date with certifications and regulations.
Each product has an HTS code (Harmonized Tariff Schedule). This code identifies what taxes will have to be paid for the product in the form of duties and tariffs.
Importer Security Filing(ISF)
24 hours before a shipment leaves port in China, your customs broker has to file the Importer Security Filing (ISF) entry on your behalf with U.S. Customs. If the broker doesn’t file the ISF entry within 24 hours, by law U.S. Customs can inflict a $5,000.00 penalty on the importer. (Is the U.S. Government dying for new ways to fund its ever-growing deficit, or what?)
Today, making the ISF entry on time is one of the most critical functions a broker performs. If they don’t move quick enough then the repercussions are costly.
Beware of ISF Failures
You would think this is a simple thing and most customs brokers would be on the ball, but this isn’t always the case. Recently I had a customer who was a new importer who chose a large broker with nationwide offices. The process he had to endure just to get set up took far too long than it should have; more than a week.
Most alarmingly, when I emailed the ISF data to this broker for them to file, no one was responding. I had to call them and then was told they couldn’t find this customer’s account information in their system.
The BEST customs broker for you will be responsive, quick, and accurate. I had one customs broker a couple of weeks ago who had filed the ISF entry within one hour after I emailed the ISF data.
On the negative side, we had another customs broker who not long ago misfiled the ISF entry, had it rejected, and was almost late in filing it. It could have been an expensive mess for the importer.
The moral of the story is, be very careful who you choose. We’ve worked with customs brokers all over the U.S. and can refer you to one that we have had a history of success with.
Gain Access to Our Custom Broker’s Nationwide Network
In 2012, we developed a partnership with a customs broker agency with a nationwide network. This gives us the ability to provide you with a quote for all customs duty, port and other fees; a complete, door to door price to the final shipping destination.
Ready to get started? Contact us now for a free consultation to discuss your needs.