Customs Brokers: Responsibilities & Obligations

customs brokers

From January 1, 2021, all products transiting between the UK, the EU, and beyond will require a customs declaration. Exporting and importing items into and out of the UK for your business now requires more paperwork and expertise than ever before.

As a busy, worldwide trading firm, understanding and implementing these changes post-Brexit means more paperwork, frustrations, and hassle. That's why engaging a customs agent or a broker takes all the hassles for them.

About Clear Customs

We have worked with Customs experts to create a simple platform for UK companies and Customs agents to electronically file Customs declarations with greater accuracy. 

Our digital-first approach makes declarations convenient and simple.

What is a customs broker?


How to choose a customs broker?

While some countries require customs brokers to be licensed, the UK does not require this. If you're hiring a freight forwarder to handle the logistics of your delivery, find out if they also handle customs and import brokerage. If they do, this could be a good option because you'll just have to deal with one outsourced provider rather than several.

Alternatively, you can look for a customs broker on Google, however, some websites also contain a list of registered customs brokers. Then ask your shortlist a few pertinent questions. For instance, inquire about the customs code for the items you're exporting or importing.

The one should be able to tell you what the customs code is, what the duty is for the place you're shipping it to, or what the import duty is for the UK. The broker should tell you everything in a very short period of time. It's a straightforward query that will separate the wheat from the chaff.

The chances of getting scammed are low because customs brokering is not a business to be taken lightly. Customs brokers take on a lot of responsibility for a small amount of money.

The customs brokers are electronically registered with customs, which speeds up communications and ensures that they are aware of the timeframes necessary to anticipate problems. This can be done either before a shipment leaves the nation or before it arrives. Some major duties performed by a broker include:

Providing Commodity Code

Every product on the earth has a unique individual code, a customs broker will examine the all-important classification and provide you with the correct commodity code. The commodity code is then used to create customs documents, however, this isn't always enough.

Get you an import licence

Some products may require an import licence. They might be dangerous or restricted commodities. This is when the customs broker is useful again since they know exactly what documentation is needed to get an import licence.

Clear payments

Customs brokers can also assist with processing payments. If you're a frequent importer who has to pay duty, taxes, or VAT on commodities, your customs broker or freight agent may have a duty deferment or VAT deferral account, which means you do not have to pay the duty or VAT right away. That would be paid once a month. The commodities can then move quickly through the port.

Take responsibility

Improper customs documentation might result in items being held up or even impounded. If there is a delay, it is going to be with customs. Delays can result in higher expenses for you in terms of missed revenue and storage fees, as well as for your freight firm, which may discover that one of its HGVs is unavailable for the following task and pass the cost on to you. Customs brokers are headache-avoiders and take care of all the problems at the crossing.

Their services can include any of the following:

  • File customs declarations forms
  • Streamline the customs clearance process
  • Provide guidance on the process of importing goods into the UK
  • Maintain HMRC compliance in your business
  • Keep track of import duties and taxes
  • Provide professional guidance and assistance
  • Provide skilled customs training for your imports
  • Customise consulting services for your trading company
  • How much does a customs agent cost?

    Each customs broker provides slightly different services, their charges can differ widely. If you're utilising a freight forwarder who also serves as your customs broker, the customs portion of their service should be mentioned in their itemised quote and contract. You can then compare their rates to those of other providers.

    Most customs brokers like to provide a customised quote because their fee is based on the things you're importing, their value, and their point of origin. For example, if your items require a licence, the broker may be required to do additional work, for which they will charge extra.

    Some customs brokers advertise a one-time flat price, which might be as minimal as £29. While these deals might be tempting, you should be aware of small print or hidden fees, which can quickly add up to a higher charge significantly. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure you understand exactly what you can expect from your customs broker.

    Engaging a customs broker to assist you in clearing your shipment through UK customs might make life much easier. You will have to pay for the service, but it can help you lessen the dangers of importing and acquiring your items faster. Most significantly, it will eliminate a source of distraction, make sure to focus on your business. That's usually money well spent.