Here’s why customs brokers save companies time and money

Your business is expanding and now you have the opportunity to ship your products internationally. It’s an exciting time and an important stage of growth but it comes with new requirements and opens the door to pitfalls and problems if you don’t understand the customs requirements.

While it may seem like a good idea to try and do it yourself to save money, outsourcing this to a licensed customs broker will end up saving you a lot of time and money in the long run. You won’t run the risk of delayed shipments and fines.

Why are customs forms necessary? Any time you ship or receive goods from other countries, a customs form is required. You need to declare the value of those goods, and also show that you are compliant with the laws from both countries of where the goods came from and where they are going.

The reason you need to declare the value is because of taxes and tariffs that need to be paid. You also need to declare what is in the shipment for security purposes. If there is anything wrong with the customs form, you will face penalties. When you have other shipments, your company will deal with additional scrutiny from customs officials.

Now that you understand how serious these forms are, let’s go over the process, and some of the things a licensed customs broker goes through to complete these forms correctly.

Declaring value – It is important to accurately estimate the value of the goods being shipped on the customs form. It is illegal to inaccurately list the value of the items.

Incorrect information (typos) – It is critical to make sure the recipient’s address is stated correctly as well as the sender’s contact information. If you do not provide accurate information, it will drastically slow down the process or even render it undeliverable or prevent the shipment from being delivered at all.

HS codes – All customs forms need to have the right Harmonized System code matching the goods being shipped. There are over 5,000 HS codes and you need to know which code corresponds to what you are shipping. These codes enable the border officials to determine if tariffs apply to your goods. If the HS code is wrong, you run the risk of having to pay for storage until the issue is resolved.

Electronic filing – Customs forms are not filled out manually or typed up. These forms are filed electronically. You need to complete the electronic export information in the Automated Export System, also known as AESDirect.

Barcode placement – As you prepare your shipment, you need to make sure the customs form is properly attached ensuring the barcode is visible. If this is not done right, it will cause costly shipping delays.

There are a number of other factors that go into filling out customs forms including knowing what is duty-free and knowledge of a variety of import/export laws, regulations and compliance. As you can see, this is not an easy process. Rules and regulations change, so keeping up with everything is almost a daily necessity, which is why outsourcing this task to licensed professionals is what many business owners choose to do.

At KCarlton International, we have three licensed customs brokers on staff. We are a boutique shipping company offering customs brokerage and freight forwarding services. This is our 20th year in business and we take pride in our level of customer service and accuracy with your shipping needs. When you ship with KCarlton International, you can be rest assured that you are shipping with confidence.

We’d love to hear from you and learn about your business. Give us a call at 954-792-6505 and visit our website: