How cargo customs clearance is carried out

The globalizations of the economy, the development of international trade are the realities of today. International economic activity implies its own characteristics, including the necessity to go through numerous bureaucratic procedures. Customs clearance is required taking into account current standards and regulations, which, by the way, tend to change. Some norms of international law are getting out of date, new regulations are being introduced. There are also changes in taxes, duties, rules for the import and export of certain categories of goods.

What customs brokers can do

Customs clearance implies going through all procedures. This is a rather complex activity, and only experts who know both theory and practical realities are engaged here. Special aspects:

  • The broker can be a company, legal entities that represent the interests of customers. They carry out activities related to registration, customs clearance, declaration, parsing of certificates.
  • If necessary, brokers will organize personal appearance, attendance at inspections.
  • If there is a power of attorney, approval documents brokers make payments, pay duties, taxes and carry out many other actions related to international economic activity, transportation of goods.

Experts fill the accompanying documentation; they can conduct an inspection, open packages, containers in order to make sure that the goods comply with what is stated in the documents. Of course, customs brokers are responsible for the safety of the cargo, that is, they are aware of the risks, and responsibility that arises in connection with their rather wide legal authorities. Registration of a broker is also required.

The whole procedure of client interaction begins with setting tasks, taking into account the special features of goods and all export-import operations.

Customs broker must be registeredSuch registration is required; experts operate on the basis of licenses and other approval documents. Having only a university degree  in this area is not enough
Operations based on approval documentsThe broker’s legal authorities are broad, but not unlimited. He has the right to perform only those operations that are permitted in accordance with the license, power of attorney from the customer

Experts introduce modern technologies. It allows them to optimize the time and effort spent by the client. Consequently, this makes such services more available.

Specific features of cargo customs clearance

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It is necessary to take into account domestic legislation, international legal norms. An expert will be able to optimize the consumption of the company’s resources, he is able to execute even complex transactions quickly, and ensure the transparency of all processes. Control by supervisory authorities is quite serious. Especially considering the desire of the authorities of many countries to make such activities as transparent as possible in order to reduce the risks of smuggling counterfeit goods, corruption, abuse of power and other economic crimes.

Document templates, ready-made samples, forms, and other documentation also help during the work. But even if some of the manipulations can be done online, using ready-made virtual filling templates, it is still a responsible process that does not allow errors, typos, and inaccuracies. That is why the work of customs brokers carries such a high level of responsibility. Electronic digital signatures are also being actively introduced, which has become a reality in many countries, especially in the EU countries.

What determines the efficiency of a customs broker

It is necessary to remember that the supervisory and regulatory bodies, assessing the correctness of filling out customs documents, and all foreign economic activity in general also use software that can find errors, inaccuracies and inconsistencies in data when submitting a declaration in a split second. The work of artificial intelligence, on the one hand, greatly simplifies the activity, speeds up, but on the other hand, it does not give the slightest chance of error. Other factors also affect:

  • Customs brokers are assisted in their work by instructions, regulations regarding filling out forms.
  • The software allows you to be always aware of changes in legislation; the databases are regularly updated and replenished. However, this also, in turn, imposes certain obligations, because an expert must regularly undergo professional retraining in order to keep abreast of numerous innovations.
  • The specialist protects the legal rights and interests of the customer, acts on the basis of a contract.

In part, this work comes down to compliance with bureaucratic formalities, the provision of additional information and documents to regulatory authorities, payment of duties, taxes and other fees. And, of course, professionals form a progress report for the client.

Why you shouldn’t save on customs brokerage services

Expert assistance is always needed because the risks are extremely high. A consignment of goods, all cargo can be detained at customs, transported to special storage points. In addition, there are many grounds for imposing penalties, administrative penalties for non-compliance with international and domestic legislation. Experts track the location of cargo, movement, timeliness of filing declarations and other documents, payment of duties.

Due to the rather strong competition in this area, it cannot be said that customs brokerage services are very expensive. Prices are reasonable; they depend on the volume of work, the specifics of the cargo, goods. The nuances of the route are also taken into account.  The following table will help you understand the main advantage that many customers have appreciated:

Full controlIt means control of transportation, customs clearance, strict adherence to procedures
Ability to focus on business needsIf entrepreneurs delegate authority to customs brokers, then they can use resources, time, focusing on other commercial needs

Many consignments of cargo require marking and additional certificates. So, if we are talking about the movement of plants, crops, then a phytosanitary certificate will also be required.

Requirements for customs brokerage services

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Since the responsibility is great, the specialists sign a contract that implies insurance of the risks of civil liability. This is a rather broad concept, which means insurance in case of damage to the customer’s property, damage, non-fulfillment of duties, improper control, non-compliance with legal requirements regarding the provision of customs brokerage services.

In addition, a document is often signed separately, regulating the preservation of trade secrets on the part of customs brokers. Any foreign economic activity, export-import operations make it possible to collect information about the activities of the enterprise, its financial capabilities, turnover of material resources. This information should not be revealed or transferred to third parties, subsequently used for commercial purposes or for unfair competition.

Banking, commercial secrets, and other confidential information are not disclosed under any circumstances.

What is displayed in the agreement on customs brokerage services

There are typical samples on the network, which, however, do not give a complete picture of the specifics of brokers’ activities. The contract specifies the specificity of activities, manipulations, which are the responsibility of specialists. In particular, the following points:

  • Reconciliation of codes of foreign economic activity.
  • Determination of documents list, the formation of a package of documents.
  • Calculation of payments, amounts, timely payment of taxes, state duties and other levies.
  • Providing full reporting on their services.
  • Timely submission of accompanying documentation.
  • Conducting consultations.

Some services are provided free of charge, for example, preliminary consultation, collection of information, formation of a list, that is, a detailed list of required documents.

It is profitable to cooperate with customs brokers

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This is a mutually beneficial cooperation, because the interests of the principal will be represented by professionals who are familiar with the declaration, the process of inspection and other aspects. In addition, professionalism lies in the ability to build a strategy and tactics quickly in case of emergency situations. As a rule, people who have achieved success in this area have analytical thinking, good communication skills, they strive to improve their professional level, are able to take a responsible approach to business, and keep banking and commercial secrets. It is these employees that are invited to their staff by companies that provide customs brokerage services. Plus, it is important to be able to protect the interests of the client regardless of the situation.

Part of the actions can be performed by the customer himself: collecting some documents, filling them in. But in any case, the duty of customs brokers is to check the data provided by the client, eliminate inaccuracies. Practice shows that already at this stage some errors and incorrect filling are often found. It is interesting that, judging by the reports of specialized companies, such errors and inaccuracies are revealed in most cases.

That is why clients are increasingly delegating their powers to customs brokers in full. Incorrect information causes delays, penalties, unplanned expenses, for example, due to the need to pay for the storage of a consignment in the warehouse until the inaccuracies in the declaration are eliminated.

Turning to official and reliable companies

Customs clearance is much more complicated than it might initially seem. Despite the fact that there is a large number of ready-made sample forms, templates on the network, it does not guarantee that there are no errors. In official companies operating on the basis of a license, the most simple and effective algorithms of actions have already been worked out, there is experience in interacting with regulatory authorities, customs, government agencies. The deadlines are met, the specifics of logistics and routes are taken into account.

Customs brokerage services are relevant for enterprises engaged in the export and import of raw materials, goods, materials, equipment and much more. Professionals draw up cargo declarations of goods, take into account the movement of a consignment of goods, and monitor compliance with deadlines. If a company, acting on the basis of a license, receives many complaints, remarks from customers, government agencies or regulatory, supervisory authorities, then in most cases this entails a revocation of the license and the impossibility of performing customs brokerage services at all or for a certain period of time.

Such companies are excluded from the register, which is entered into the database. Even the introduction of electronic services and professional software does not make this work much easier, since the responsibility of the broker is great in any case.

Objective realities are also taken into account. So, the pandemic and other factors affecting the process of international trade and economic interaction between countries, of course, make their own adjustments. Extraordinary circumstances, in turn, entail a change in the legal framework, the emergence of new regulations, more stringent requirements. This means that all foreign economic activity is undergoing changes, which will be required to be taken into account by specialists offering customs brokerage services.

Людмила Логистик УКР

Эксперт в сфере транспорта и логистических процессов НАН Украины. Участница экспертной рады при министерстве транспорта и инфраструктуры