A customs broker, or customs agent as we call them here in the UK, can drastically change your importing and exporting process. They are knowledgeable about all parts of the customs clearance process and can make moving your goods more efficient and less time-consuming.
By using up-to-date cloud-based technology and having a detailed, digital database, many customs brokers are integral businesses. The price of brokers and agents, as well as tax, all need to be taken into consideration when considering the general cost of importing and exporting goods.
Understanding why brokers are integral, what they do and whether you should work with international or local people, is worth taking into consideration when looking at business expenses.
What Is a Customs Broker?
A customs broker, or customs agent in the UK, is essential for any business that imports and exports goods. It is their responsibility to sort out the paperwork, make sure that everything is cleared and to keep everyone involved in the process up-to-date.
Their experience and knowledge will make importing and exporting easier, as they know the laws and what documents are required. Because they are well versed in this process, they can sort out any issues that might occur and know what action to take to get your goods through quickly.
What Do Customs Agents Do?
An agent will guide you to find the right commodity code, as all containers and goods have their own identifiable code and importers need to know each one for their goods. This process is all done electronically and is used to prepare customs documentation so the goods can be shipped. Customs brokers are also very knowledgeable when it comes to licences of restricted or hazardous goods and can make this process much smoother, helping things to move along efficiently.
Customs agents can also help with making payments too, as they will often have a duty deferment account, making paying taxes and VAT much more efficient for businesses. If you are importing large amounts of goods it would be beneficial for you to obtain your own deferment account. This way, goods can get through the port much quicker and can help your business cash flow with up to 45 days credit through your deferment account.
What Technology Do They Use?
Brokers and agents are so integral to business because of the technology they use. They have access to records and databases, quickly accessing information and getting your containers through customs both fast and efficiently. Agents use:
- Their smart devices enable custom brokers to clear transactions swiftly, without terminals or faxes
- Cloud-based processing cuts filing time down to minutes, instead of hours
- In-time communication means issues can be tackled before they become a problem
- Their AI platform eliminates mistakes and streamlines the customs process
How Much Does it Cost to Use a Customs Broker?
Traditionally, the price of a customs broker varies widely in the UK, for standard customs clearance at airports and seaports. The price you pay can depend on experience, expertise and how efficient the service is. It is also worth taking into consideration duty and tax costs, to determine the overall cost of importing goods to the UK or exporting abroad. This could also be subject to change because of Brexit and the UK’s future relationship with the EU.
Are International or Local Workers More Cost-Effective?
This depends entirely on the currency and exchange rate of the locations you are importing and exporting to. However, it is much more popular to use local customs agents in any given location, rather than to use your own.
This is because the customs officer will know each of the agents that work there and will be able to contact them immediately to do the job. Local brokers are already familiar with their area, the port and the people around them, making locals much better at clearing your goods through customs.