Customs Agents: 4 Things To Avoid


Your customs agent is very important to the success of your business. If you get the right customs broker, you already bought for yourself, a better chance of making it with your importation business, and when it’s the other way around, it’s definitely going to have a toll on your business.  Below are 5 characteristics you should check that your customs agent does not have.

#1: Little room for maneuver

In general, you do not trust whoever is not very open to the information or who excessively highlights the risks with the customs administration. Customs deserves the utmost respect as an institution, but it should not instill fear and in its consequence restrain initiatives.

A customs agent who limits himself to this reveals his shortcomings in the real knowledge of what is the traffic of goods and the free initiatives of the merchants who, respecting the legality as it cannot be otherwise, deserve much more attention in their particular business needs that strictly related to the bureaucracy.

#2: Dazzling prices

I’ve seen it so many times … company that buys in China a container with a FOB value of 30,000 euros. You add the freight, surcharges, expenses at the destination, etc. and the import is going easy to 34,000 euros. And despite the money at stake choose one customs agent over another for a “theoretical” difference of 30 euros in the customs clearance. Undoubtedly today more than ever we must all cut back … but beware that the cheap can be expensive. For saving 30 euros (in this example, 0.08% of the total.), Then that cheap customs agent is expensive: it takes more time to dispatch, it goes into delays, it is not an AEO and it has a higher percentage of inspections, etc.

My advice is always to find a fair price but according to the product that we move and the service that this requires. If you export tiles is one thing, but if you import shoes if you export perishable goods or, for example, cosmetic imports I can only advise you not to be dazzled by a “very cheap” customs clearance price. In short, getting a reliable customs broker like Clearit USA is the best way to go.

#3: Do not ask anything or ask everything

I would distrust those customs agents who do not ask anything about your merchandise, who do not ask you for clarifications about the invoices and that “everything is clear”. Always. Let’s see, the invoices of many Chinese suppliers are not well understood. Often the incoterm is wrong, or do not specify well the merchandise, etc. If your customs agent does not ask you from time to time, you do not look at your affairs with the necessary care. And that, in the end, you will pay dearly with penalties, more taxes, delays, etc.

But the opposite case also occurs and must be avoided. Those customs agents who ask everything may lack the necessary experience to understand the issues or know-how essential to avoid disturbing the customer every 5 minutes.

#4: Practical unawareness

The ambiguity in the response is a clear symptom of ignorance. In customs matters, we know or do not know, and although nobody is obliged to know everything, what one does not know is consulted with the legislation, interprets it and then informs. The lack of specificity in counseling is a sufficient symptom to avoid being entrusted to luck.

In matters related to customs, tariffs, and problems with goods, most situations have a coherent response, almost always with options or alternatives and, although some situations require consultation with certain legislative texts, the answer must be quick and backed up with enough content elements.

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