How to Choose a Customs Broker

How to Choose a Broker…

…to clear your shipments, especially with the ever changing customs rules and regulations.

Due to the constant changes in the global economy, there are a lot of changes taking place in  international trade and regulations. It’s making it extremely difficult for the importer to keep up with all the changes.

With the constant changes taking place, you want to avoid delays or problems when clearing your shipments through Customs or other government agencies. To avoid these delays or problems, you must have the right Customs Broker working for you.

The right licensed Customs Broker not only deals with Customs but with all other government agencies concerning the importation of shipments. Therefore the right broker with the right software not only can speed up the clearance of your shipments, but can help in making it a hassle-free Customs clearance.

The customs broker you choose must know Customs rules and regulations

The right Customs Broker has to be up to date with the new rules or changes taking place for imported goods from all countries. Which means the broker must keep up with the different international trade agreements. These agreements reduce the duty rates or grants duty free treatment from many, many countries. When the broker does keep up and applies the special agreements correctly, your shipments will see a reduction in the amount of duty you have to pay.

Under these agreements not all goods manufactured, produced, and exported from a qualified country will be allowed to be imported duty free. There are over forty such special trade agreements between the USA and other countries. These special agreements are getting greater in number. Some expire and some may get renewed by Congress. Some never get renewed or the qualifying country may be changed to a different special agreement. Some countries qualify for more than one special agreement. By qualifying in more than one agreement, more products may get a reduction in duty. So it is the ability and knowledge of the Customs Broker in applying these agreements that is important.

Ability Levels of Customs Brokers Varies Greatly

The expertise and or education of Customs Brokers vary greatly from highly trained to unskilled clerks.  Also, the methods of operation, performance levels, and customer relationships vary greatly: from very good to non-existent.

Here is an example of an unskilled broker to avoid using. The other day I was a talking to a supervisor of a freight forwarder about a special project he was working on for one of his customers. He was asking how to handle the clearance of a very import shipment for that customer. After discussing the procedure I asked him “Why are you using us, a competitor of yours, instead of using your own company?  After all, you are a division of a very large Customs Broker Company and you have many offices nationwide”.  He answered that the majority of the employees of his customs broker’s offices are not skilled enough to deal properly with Customs. He then said, “We can’t afford to have them mess up one of our customers shipments; we do not want to lose customers”.

Some Customs Brokers are not customs brokers

There are quite a few companies and individuals that claim to be customs brokers which are not. When you call one of these companies and ask if they are customs broker they will tell you “Oh yes! We are customs brokers”, but when you ask more specific questions they will tell you “We have an in-house broker”. What they don’t tell you is that they outsource the clearance of import shipments. That the in-house broker is a customs broker that at most may just be in the same building they are in. That outsourced customs broker has nothing in common with them, they are not related, they are not part or division of the same company. They are two different companies. Both companies split the charges, so the outsourced broker may put aside your shipment and give preferential treatment to the shipments that pay them more.

Now if you don’t care about your name and reputation. If you don’t mind that your important shipments are handled by some company or individual you have no knowledge of; then an outsourced broker will work just fine. Just remember, that an outsourced broker can cause you a penalty or cause your shipment to be seized; and you will not have a choice but to take the loss.  At the very least that broker may delay the clearance of your shipment.

“They tell us it will take three days to clear shipments!”

Every once in a while we have a new customer that tells us that before they came to us, they called other customs brokers only to be told that it takes about three days to clear shipments thru Customs.

What that broker is not telling them is that they don’t have the time to research and clear their shipment. Or that they have shipments for other larger customers, whose shipments they will clear first.

Clear Shipments All Over the U.S.A.

The right broker must be able to clear shipments all over the U.S.A. So if you have shipments in more than one U.S. city, you’ll want a broker that has a nationwide license and is able to clear in all cities. That’s called Remote Entry Filing. A customs broker with the knowledge and remote entry filing ability can quickly process and clear shipments in another city in the U.S.A.  How fast it clears depends on the product or quantity of products and if any other government agencies are involved.   Most remote entry shipments clear within minutes.

Software used

Your Customs Broker must have available the latest and best software  to communicate and process all information and entries directly into the Customs system.  This will require a dedicated Virtual Private Network with direct connection to Customs.  This type of connection will allow for the greatest security for your information as well as the preserving the integrity of the Customs system.

Advantages of Using the right Customs Broker

1. It’s clear that importing products into the USA is a complicated matter. This is why using the services of Cap Intl, Inc., the right customs broker, will make the clearance easy and hassle free. By using Cap International, Inc. you will get a Customs Broker that is experienced and is up to date with the ever changing International Trade regulations.

At Cap Intl we have a wide range of experience in clearing products through Customs and all of the Government agencies. We act on your behalf between you and Customs, letting you concentrate on your business, while we concentrate on clearing your shipments. With our experience we can lower the total costs of the shipment by helping you save time and money.

Experience in all Types of Cargo Shipments

2. At Cap Intl we are very experienced with all types of cargo shipments, such as: air shipments, ocean shipments, truck shipments, railroad shipments, etc. On occasion we even help passengers carrying commercial shipment in their luggage or hand carried packages. Many times, those customers are carrying gold, silver or precious stones. Customers do not want to leave their valuable cargo in a warehouse awaiting clearance. So we submit the information to customs as soon as the person has departed the foreign country. This way, we clear the shipment before the passenger arrives. Thus helping the passenger keep their valuables safe, and then continue on their trip.

Clear Freight Through all Government Agencies

3. Not only do we clear products through Customs, but we also clear several shipments a week through the Agriculture Department(USDA), and Food and Drug Administration(FDA): We also clear shipments through the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Fish and Wildlife, Department of Transportation (DOT),  Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), and Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), and other participating government agencies.

We have cleared anything you can imagine from human blood, and live insects; to very large equipment including all of the cargo imported on a large charter ship. Many times, we have cleared all the freight on charter airplanes. These are products that were used on a job overseas by the customer, and are coming back from such a job.

Special Trade Agreements to Lower Duty

4. At Cap Intl, Inc. we are very experienced and up to date with the special trade agreements. These agreements allow us to clear shipments for the qualifying products, duty free or lowering the duty rates. These agreements are not for all countries and not for all products from a participating country. The country you are importing from must participate or qualify in at least in one of the special trade agreements.

While you concentrate on your business we will concentrate on clearing your shipments and make sure they are in compliance with Customs regulations.

Our Software Programs

5. The software programs that Cap International, Inc. uses to send the technical documentation to Customs are the best available.   With these programs we are connected directly to Customs. So sending and receiving the electronic information to Customs is faster, almost instantaneous.

Most of the Shipments We Clear are Cleared Fast

6. That’s correct, that is not an exaggeration.  Of all the shipments we clear,  92% of them are cleared within twenty four hours. About half of those are cleared in minutes. That is, as soon as we submit the information electronically to Customs they will release the freight “paperless”, clearing it in minutes. A large portion of the shipments are pre-cleared by us, that is, they are cleared before the freight arrives. Therefore the freight is available for delivery as soon as the carrier has unloaded the freight and is ready for pick up.

Competitive Fees

7. Our fees are very competitive with the rest of the companies in our industry. Our fees are competitive because our overhead is lower.  We don’t office in fancy buildings in high rent areas of town.  However, we always welcome your visit to our humble offices.

Members of Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism

8. We are committed in the fight against terrorism, that is why we became partners of CTPAT (Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism). By being partners of CTPAT we are held to higher standards. This means that Customs will periodically check us out as far as security and training of our employees in the fight against terrorism.

Contact us at 832-649-4392 or by Email at

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