The Role of a Customs Agent in International Freight Shipping

Customs agents are responsible for monitoring transactions related to customs entry and admissibility of merchandise, classification of products, valuation at customs, payment of duties, taxes or other charges, such as refunds, discounts and duty reductions. There are approximately 11,000 licensed customs agents active in the United States. Freight agents and customs agents provide specific types of services, and each plays an important role in international trade and international transportation. The main difference between a freight forwarder and a customs broker is that the freight forwarder deals with the logistics of actually moving shippers' products from origin to destination. A carrier directly contracts with carriers to guarantee reservations by sea, air, rail, or truck, and also to inform shippers about estimated freight costs, port rates, special document costs, insurance costs, and terminal handling fees. When it comes to international trade, there are two crucial entities you must deal with: the freight forwarder and the customs agent.

A freight forwarder is responsible for logistics and shipping aspects, while a customs agent deals with customs-related matters, such as customs regulations. You can consult these experts to make the shipping process smoother. The simple difference is that freight forwarders are responsible for the transportation of goods, while a customs agent deals with the entry of goods at the customs point. Customs agents work on behalf of importers to ensure that their shipments are legal, compliant, and can pass through the U. S.

Freight agents work on behalf of shippers to organize travel and shipment logistics. It's critical that you determine what service works best for you to meet your shipping needs. Customs agents can present themselves in many different forms. Some are individuals who are self-employed. Others work for associations or corporations that have teams of customs agents. The primary purpose of a customs agent is to prepare and clear a customs entry.

This involves working carefully with an importer to ensure that all of the products in a shipment are legal and in compliance with the U. In addition, customs agents can help ensure that the appropriate payment of duties and taxes is completed and sent to CBP. Filling out government paperwork on imports and exports can be difficult and time-consuming, especially when there are additional agencies involved. Customs agents take responsibility for keeping up with regulations and completing paperwork so you don't have to. While a freight forwarder is responsible for making sure that their shipments arrive on time, they don't move the cargo themselves.

Instead, freight forwarders are turning to the help of real transport companies. Freight forwarders have established relationships with several transportation companies that allow them to negotiate beneficial prices and efficient routes. Freight forwarders are concerned with government documentation and regulations because they focus on the actual movement of goods. Proper documentation and regulatory compliance mean that the freight forwarder will be able to move the merchandise in a timely manner. Another similarity is that both customs agents and freight forwarders act as intermediaries for their customers and other parties.

However, their difference is the parts with which they connect their customers. Customs agents are intermediaries for their customers and for CBP. Freight forwarders, on the other hand, are intermediaries between their customers and transport companies. The scope of services provided by each profession is also different. Customs agents focus exclusively on making sure that importers and exporters comply with government regulations. Freight forwarders focus on numerous aspects of the shipping process.

Another difference between the two is that freight forwarders are much more common than customs agents. According to data from IBIS World and U. Bureau of Labor Statistics: there are 106,900 freight forwarders and 13,000 customs agents. That means there are 93,900 more freight forwarders than customs agents. Finally, customs agents only care about part of the trip, while freight forwarders care about the entire shipment.

Customs agents generally deal with goods entering and leaving the U. Freight agents must plan the logistics of the entire route through which the goods will travel. Now that you know the difference between a customs agent and a freight forwarder, it's important to determine which one you should use and when. It's important to know what situation a specific service requires so as not to waste time and money. Navigating CBP's various rules and regulations is extremely difficult.

The rules are constantly changing and trying to keep track of all this can be extremely exhausting. In addition to that, you must ensure that any documentation for your imports or exports is completed correctly and submitted on time. Most importers and exporters simply don't have the time or experience to keep up with these regulations. Partnering with a customs agent can give you the flexibility and peace of mind knowing that your imports will be done correctly every time. When you need to find a fast and cost-effective method to ship your products, you should turn to a freight forwarder. The fact is that most people don't have the logistical skills necessary to chart a course for their shipped products.

Using their skills and connections, a freight forwarder can negotiate the best path for your goods. Unless you already have the best route for your goods to travel, it's a good idea to contact a freight forwarder. No matter what import-related questions you have or what kind of help you need, you can contact our team and get help getting started today.