How to Select a Customs Broker – Guidelines for experienced, frequent importer with significant volume (more than 1000 shipments per year or annual imports valued at more than $1M)

Because customs brokers leverage electronic communications both with clients and with Canada Border Services Agency and other government agencies that control the importation and exportation of goods, your customs broker does not need to have an actual office at the port of entry through which  your goods enter or exit Canada.

Customs brokers are licensed by the Canada Border Services Agency.  As such an importer must grant a customs broker authority to act on his behalf.

What to ask for

Here are some questions that you might wish to ask as you discuss your business concerns with customs brokers.

  1. Does your firm have a specific area of expertise? How do you provide this information to prospective clients?  Can you provide references from current clients with the same or similar imports to mine?
  2. Do you have experience with, and current knowledge of, the goods that will be imported by my business? What do you require from me to begin development of my database records? How do you let your clients know about regulatory changes that affect their goods?
  3. How will we work together to develop a compliance plan to clarify our responsibilities and minimize our exposure to administrative monetary penalties (AMPS)?  And how will we work together to ensure CBSA receives the electronic pre-arrival cargo information needed to meet eManifest requirements, including the electronic transmission of advance importer data?  Do you offer trade compliance seminars or webinars for clients?
  4. Will a single person be assigned to my account?  Can I reach a live person 24/7/365?
  5. Are you a member of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers? How many Certified Customs Specialists and Certified Trade Compliance Specialists do you have on staff? Will one of these individuals be handling my shipments?
  6. Do you provide the all the services that I will need to import or export my goods?  Can you also handle my customs clearance into the US? Are you affiliated with any foreign customs brokers? Carriers? Freight Forwarders?
  7. Can you provide me with a regular report that details my import and export history?
  8. What differentiates you from your competitors?

Additional information you should provide to your customs broker

Details about the goods you import and export, including: who manufactures the goods, where the goods are manufactured, the end-use and/or user of the goods, and the value of the goods.

Find a Customs Broker in Canada to assist you with your next shipment.