Posts Tagged ‘Customs Brokerage’


Do I Need to Hire a Customs Broker?

Help buttonWhat does a customs broker do?

At a basic level, customs brokers help:

  • Obtain documentation that has been prepared for the shipment/contract
  • Review the documentation for completeness and compliance with customs regulations
  • Prepare and submit a declaration to Customs on their client’s behalf at the port of arrival

Do you need a customs broker when importing?

It is up to you. Most companies who import goods into Canada find that it is far too expensive and time consuming to travel to the facility or port of arrival where their goods are held awaiting the clearance process, prepare a formal declaration for Canada Border Services Agency, pay the charges due and then await delivery of their product.  The trend today is to do what you do best and leave the clearance process up to the professionals.

What are the benefits of a customs broker?

  1. Customs brokers stay up-to-date with policy and regulation changes and come equipped with all of the software, hardware and technology needed to manage and declare your company’s shipments. So there is no need to shop around for the necessary resources.
  2. Aside from submitting a declaration on your behalf, customs brokers can also help your company reduce costs, improve efficiency, and mitigate risk issues related to engaging in cross-border business.  We have the experience to help implement the processes and approaches that may boost your competitive advantage in the marketplace.
  3. We work closely with international trade and customs professionals to provide advantageous and forward-thinking advice.

This allows you to remain focused on what you do best, instead of spending your time overseeing complex customs procedures. Let the professionals leverage their experience to complete the job with accuracy.

Couriers services also offer customs brokerage service. Is there a difference?

Courier transport can be fast and efficient, but caution is advised when using their “all-inclusive” customs brokerage services. The extremely large volume of shipments carried by couriers, the speed with which their multiple-shipment loads must move through Customs, and unfamiliarity with the multitude of goods handled, makes incorrect tariff, tariff treatment or valuation by courier customs brokers a fairly common occurrence. Any advantages in freight rates or speed of service can be very quickly wiped out by costly tariff errors which are usually not identified until there is a Customs post-release verification audit.

Another factor with the courier brokers (or using more than one broker in general) is that you are one importer with Customs, so it is imperative that you review your declarations to ensure that your information to Customs is consistent amongst all of your agents/declarations. If Customs sees one importer, with the same vendor, same item etc. being declared differently, you leave yourself open for further review and possible penalties.

When should you contact a customs broker?

In the planning stages, prior to entering into international contracts. Although you may choose to travel to the facility or port of arrival to prepare a formal declaration for Customs yourself, it is highly recommended that you seek guidance and advice from a customs broker in the planning stages to help mitigate risk issues related to your cross-border business.

The long-term success of any international business model depends on an organization’s ability to understand, execute and enforce cross-border contracts with their suppliers and customers. By getting involved in the early stages, customs brokers are able to provide not only advantageous advice on terms, but also guide you on countries of origin to source from, tariff classification and entry types to assist in the decision making and compliance process. So at the end of the day you are more competitive in the marketplace and gain a positive relationship with both  U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Canada Border Services Agency.

If you are a business that is just starting up, caution is advised when choosing not to use a customs broker.

Why choose Pacific Customs Brokers?

Pacific Customs Brokers is a PREMIUM service provider. Our strength is in cutting through red tape. We are a Canadian and a U.S. customs broker with a high level of expertise directed to both high volume commercial goods and one-time noncommercial goods. We are ALWAYS OPEN 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, to obtain clearances at all commercial Customs ports of entry into Canada and the United States. Our highly trained 24/7 LIVE Reception Team will direct all calls, urgent and non-urgent, to the appropriate operational department. Unlike other customs brokers, Pacific Customs Brokers does NOT believe in voice mail boxes or automated phone attendants.

In addition,  we pride ourselves on:

  • Tenure, stability, trustworthiness, process, certainty and creditability
  • Approach as problem solvers
  • Education and training
  • Staff certifications
  • Experience with various commodities and clients
  • Referrals (What others say about it is way more important than what we say about ourselves.)
  • Multiple means of communication (24/7 Live Reception, website, Live chat, social media, Border Pro iPhone app, and a client facing dashboard)
  • Reputation with Customs and various other trade related associations
  • Adaptability and willingness to wrap ourselves around your business
  • Ease of doing business with
  • Flexible pricing and payment options
  • Ability to ship worldwide via all modes of transportation
  • Full serve ‘Concierge’ services and consulting
  • Diverse staff that speak multiple languages


If you are importing or exporting goods into Canada or the USA learn how Pacific Customs Brokers can help.  For more information on setting up an account with Pacific Customs Brokers, please contact our Client Services Team at 888.538.1566 or

Do you use the services of a customs broker? Have you found it beneficial? Share your thoughts in our comments section.

Related blog articles:

Help! My Shipment is Stuck at the Border

Always OpenMany times, we as customs brokers receive phone calls from importers, shippers, dispatchers and carriers frantically trying to find out why their shipment is “stuck at the border”. Lucky for them, we are ALWAYS Open 24/7, with live reception and no voice mail.

Sometimes it is a very simple answer and other incidence’s are more complex. Below are some of the most common reasons why a shipment may be stuck at the border.

1. Documents make no mention of who the customs broker is to assist with the clearance.  “Customs Clearance- contact Pacific Customs Brokers 888.538.1566”

2. Documents are hard to decipher who the actual Importer of Record is. The Importer of Record (IOR) can be;

  •  The receiver of the goods – usually called “consignee”
  • The shipper (acting as a “Non-Resident Importer” (NRI) and already set up with a Canadian customs broker)
  • A third party having their shipments drop shipped from another location and in most cases will also be acting as a “Non-Resident Importer

3. Neither the shipper or the consignee have not set up anything formally with a Canadian customs broker to effect customs clearance.

4. The driver/freight company picking up freight only has a Bill of Lading and is not given any other documents such as a commercial invoice or Canada Customs invoice.

5. Documents/commercial invoice does not have enough information to be able to prepare the entry for presentation and clearance with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). Some of the information that can hold this up is:

  • not enough information to  classify the goods (Tariff Classification)
  • total value or individual values are missing
  • country of manufacture is missing
  • total number of pieces is missing
  • weight is missing
  • commercial invoice document only shows product numbers or abbreviated number & item name (no general description of what the goods are). See below for examples.

For example: — 1956842ftp clr scn/cpy/prnt (not an acceptable description)

–   1956842ftp — Scanner/copier/printer unit (an acceptable description)

6. The document is not the correct document to obtain a customs clearance (i.e. purchase order or pick ticket)

7. A few more reasons freight crossing the border is often delayed may be due to the actual commodity being shipped. Perhaps there are other government agencies that are involved in approving the goods for Customs clearance, such as items that are under control of Canadian Food Inspections Agency (CFIA).

They require CFIA approval and some commodities are under quota and require an Import Permit. Perhaps the goods are listed on the Import Control List and require an Import Permit, such as some steel items.    Meat shipments and those requirements are also extensive.

It is always a good idea to check with a customs broker for any special requirements or extra documentation and / or extra steps that may need to be taken to properly clear the goods across the border prior to ordering or shipping.

When in doubt, be sure to contact your customs broker. They’ll properly advise on what you need to do and what they need in order for your shipment (s) to avoid delays and have a seamless Customs clearance process.




Dumb Down the Phone Technology!

Red TelephoneIn the fast paced world of technology, with automated phone attendants, voice recognition, voice-mail, and electronic data interchange (transferring of information) many service companies are making use of these types of options as cost cutting measures. The question is — is this in the best interest of the client?

Though it can cut costs to a company, what has been lost is the fact that we are still in the people business. We do business on a person to person basis, not company to company basis and certainly not computer to computer basis.

Nobody makes a phone call hoping to get an automated attendant or leave a message on a recording device, they want to discuss their concerns, find a solution, and move on to the next undertaking in their busy business day.

At Pacific Customs Brokers, our business model is providing PREMIUM client service, so when it came time to invest in a new phone system, we sought out technology that could be “dumbed down”.

In our business of international trade, automated phone attendants are a costly mistake. On the surface, money can be saved by automating vs paying an employee to answer the phone. But with automation, opportunities are missed to engage your client, learn more about their business activities, and add value to the services provided for your client.

To separate our service from our competition:

  • We hired and trained in-house receptionists to answer the phones 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • We removed the voice-mail function on all customs operation desks. It was our thought, that when our client’s truck arrived at the border or their emergency airfreight shipment of replacement parts landed at the airport, the oh so famous voice-mail recording, “your phone call is very important, please leave a message and I will return your call after my long weekend,” was not the response our client needed to hear.
  • We also realized that a live reception team answering the phone 24/7 was not going to be enough to provide PREMIUM service to our clientele.  So we offered a Customs brokerage service made up of a team of skilled staff that can properly walk the tight rope between trade compliance and industry common sense.  Our team takes the time to listen, ask pertinent questions and recommend solutions to a wide variety of trading issues such as free trade agreements, duty rate application, regulated items and import taxes.

We believe our clients appreciate having a real person who can assess each call for urgency, importance, direction, and priority of their shipment. We put people before technology and are keenly aware that it is the people we do business with that contribute to the growth of our business. We have all the technology and automated processes that most brokers have available, but our focus is providing PREMIUM, personal client service with experienced people who will go the extra mile to get the job done.


AMPS – How Would This Affect Your Bottom Line?


What does AMPS mean?

If you are an importer and exporter of goods into Canada, it is in your best interest to know what AMPS are.   Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) are monetary penalties issued by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ensure customs compliance. Both imports and exports of goods are subject to AMPS.

Carriers, importers, exporters and customs brokers (and many others that deal   with the Customs Act and Customs Tariff) are all held accountable on errors and can be subject to costly AMPS penalties. The penalty can be anywhere from $100.00 to $25000.00.  Another term for a “mistake” is non-compliance or an even scarier term — Contravention.

Customs compliance has become one of the new buzz words in the last ten years in the Transportation Industry.   Judging by the amount of penalties that have been assessed over the years, it is in your best interest to make sure you are compliant when it comes to   importing/exporting goods. The other buzz word is “Reason to Believe” and that means if you think you made a mistake fix it and fix it as soon as possible.

Recently, the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers(CSCB) sent out one of their regular emails and this one was on AMPS Statistics. Are you ready to be shocked?

This is for the period of July 2008 to June 2011:

  • during this period, the total number of penalties issued was 93,808;
  • during this period, the total value of penalties was $21,371,433.94;
  •  importers continue to have the highest number of penalties assessed;
  • the penalty amount assessed against importers is twice that of carriers and six times that of warehouse operators;
  • the penalty assessed the most often was C082 (27,785), followed closely by C353 (27,443); and
  • the contravention for which the highest amount was assessed is C358 ($2,043,846.18).

Code Definitions & Penalties:

  • C082: Authorized person failed to make the required corrections to a declaration of tariff classification within 90 days after having reason to believe the declaration was incorrect (penalty range $150 up to $450 per instance).
  • C353: Authorized person failed to pay duties as a result of required corrections to the declaration of the value for duty within 90 days of reason to believe the declaration was incorrect (penalty range $150 up to $450 per instance).
  • C358: Person removed goods from a Customs Office or Sufferance Warehouse prior to release or authorization by an officer (penalty range $1000 up to $4000 per shipment).

We suggest that you cross your t’s and dot your i’s to ensure compliance with Canada Customs and Other Government Departments (OGDs) when you import and export.

To learn more, attend as many Trade Compliance Seminars as possible. It is also a cost effective way to train new logistics employees. Not only will you gain the trade knowledge needed but you can rest easy that you are staying informed with the ever changing regulations with Customs and other government departments.

Be prepared because if not,   you can lose your ability to import. Remember importing is a privilege not a right.

NRI- Be Prepared Before You Ship

Antique Books and Glasses“Risk comes from not knowing what you’re doing.”
Warren Buffett


Would you go cliff diving without knowing how deep the water is? Of course not!

Exporting to Canada can be an easy process or difficult depending upon your knowledge and resources. Many US Companies have been setting up as Non-Resident Importers without knowing all the facts and or not enough preparation before they start using the NRI option for their sales advantage to Canada.

I always remember and refer to the Boy Scouts motto “Be Prepared” for reviewing the NRI process before you export your goods to Canada.

B – Begin the information gathering, find out what is needed to import your   product into Canada, are there any     special permits or licenses needed?

EExplore different ways you can price your product to make it attractive to the buyer. Should you build in import costs in the price you show, or detail   them on your invoice?

 P – Plan how you are going to ship and distribute your products in Canada.     Consolidate or Ship direct?

RRequest the services of our consulting team to rate your catalog of products   to discover the duty rates that may affect your delivered price.

EEstablish your final delivered price, making sure all import costs are   included to maximize profits.

PProceed with the document set up with Pacific Customs Brokers to make   sure your import account is set up and ready to avoid border delays.

A – Audit your procedures and how your paper trail will look to ensure you are in     compliance with all customs   regulations.

RReview the GST tax considerations, do you need to, or should you register   for a GST tax account.

EEducate your sales staff on how to quote a landed cost.

DDelight your customers in Canada with your no border hassle sales solution   and Sell, sell, sell!