Posts Tagged ‘Customs Broker’


Trade Talk | Exploring Customs Brokers and the Supply Chain

Trade Talk | Exploring Customs Brokerage and the Supply Chain

Back in 2013 it was reported by Canadian National (CN) that Six million goods and raw materials cross international borders every single day. Now imagine what is involved in clearing these goods through customs in different countries.

This is where Customs Brokers come into the Supply Chain. Customs Brokers are your translators. We communicate with customs and participating government agencies, vendors, carriers and all other participating parties.  throughout the shipping process, ensuring that all of the proper procedures have been followed.

From televisions and home appliances to custom machinery for large construction projects, we clear thousands of shipments every day. Seven days per week, 24 hours per day, 365 days a year, regardless of the port of entry or mode of transport. It is the Customs Brokers duty to ensure that your shipments in and out of the U.S., Canada, Mexico or any other country are being cleared and managed efficiently.

Trade between the United States and Canada is huge and growing. In 2013, our two-way trade was $606 billion. To put that into context, that’s $1.7 billion a day — or $1.2 million every single minute.

What we know for sure:

 According to WX1130 a popular radio news channel, it is expected that aside from the bi-lateral negotiations with the US on NAFTA, Canadian parties will likely address some of the points in debate at the State level rather than the Federal level. This means that those who are representing impacted interests are getting focus by those who have the ability to ensure minimal negative impact and/or even improved experiences across the Supply Chain.

There are 9 million U.S. based jobs that exist because of NAFTA being in place. If Monday’s meetings between Canada and the U.S. indicate anything, it is that there is willingness and there are channels open to ensuring that those 9 million jobs across the Supply Chain remain unaffected and that more jobs can be created with the incoming infrastructure goals of both these countries.

What we are talking about:

Customs Brokers in Supply Chain

Where does your Broker fit in the supply chain? Well the supply chain in truth can actually starts with either the buyer or the seller – it will also ultimately end with either the buyer or the seller. What is determined at either position will impact the activity and costs within the supply chain.

What most people have traditionally considered “supply chain” actually happens in between these two points, your broker is your asset at each end of the supply chain. So do we extend supply chain to incorporate Customs Brokerage?

When we look at past clients cases our experience would suggest YES to this.

Something as seemingly simple, can create extremely complex issues and unnecessary expense, because at the outset it seems so very simple. Take HS Tariffs or even Incoterms, reclassification or reassignment of one of these codes has saved over 50M for just one of our clients on a mere 5 international shipments.

Incoterms if they are new to you were issued updated in 2010. You can see them here

What are Incoterms®:

What are IncotermsModern-day Incoterms, date back to the creation of the first FOB term in 1812.

Here is a basic explanation of what Incoterms are below and if you want to see the updates made in 2010 you can view those HERE

“A series of three-letter trade terms related to common contractual sales practices, the Incoterms® rules are intended primarily to clearly communicate the tasks, costs, and risks associated with the transportation and delivery of goods. Incoterms inform sales contract defining respective obligations, costs, and risks involved in the delivery of goods from the seller to the buyer. However, it does not constitute contract or govern law. Also it does not define where titles transfer and does not address the price payable, currency or credit items.

The Incoterms® rules are accepted by governments, legal authorities, and practitioners worldwide for the interpretation of most commonly used terms in international trade. They are intended to reduce or remove altogether uncertainties arising from different interpretation of the rules in different countries. As such they are regularly incorporated into sales contracts worldwide.” ~ 

As you can see here, supply chain is much more than freight forwarding and logistics – because these actions take place in between the buyer buying and the seller selling. For many years now we have been working to expand our client’s understanding of where to best access our value as customs brokers – the customs brokers value is best seen on either end of the supply chain for the buyer or the seller before activating the supply chain in the delivery process.

What we think:

Customs Brokers on Supply Chain

We are thinking about ensuring our readers and customers understand IncoTerms and HS Tariff Codes. Earlier this month we shared an article on HS Tariffs you can review it here, and next week we will sharing a powerful article on Incoterms.


What we advise:

Advice on Customs Brokerage and Supply Chain

Engage your customs broker early in the sales process, or early in the buying process to ensure that all parties experience the best trade compliance results both top line and bottom line.


Getting this right is money in your pocket – getting it wrong, well that is a loss we don’t want you to experience! 


What we are reading:

Reading - Customs Brokers and Supply Chain

Forbes: As an analyst who covers supply chain management (SCM) and procurement practice across industry, I tend to keep my keyboard focused on the disruptive themes that continue to re-define it. That said, if you’re expecting me go on about the unprecedented growth of the SCM solution markets, the accelerated pace of innovation, tech adoption, social change, etc., don’t hold your breath. I can’t, as the data argue otherwise. Too many of us conflate diversification with acceleration. There’s a difference.

Great Suppliers Make Great Supply Chains

Wall Street Journal: Leave it to California growers to find a new way to eliminate the shipping from farm to warehouse. A startup operation near the San Francisco International Airport is trying to turn the warehouse itself into a farm, the WSJ’s Jacob Bunge and Eliot Brown report, eliminating the timing, transportation and preservation strategies that are critical to modern agriculture distribution. Backed by a group of tech entrepreneurs and investors, Plenty United Inc. hopes to begin selling produce soon that they say is bred for local tables rather than for shipping durability. The operation is part of the expanding field of indoor farming made possible by new lighting and other growing technology. Several startups are trying to marry that technology to the consumer push for local goods, and make it economically palatable by slashing logistics costs. Warehouse space isn’t cheap, however, particularly close to urban consumers, and Plenty United will have to nurture more funding to meet its goal of running 60 farms outside major U.S. cities.

Today’s Top Supply Chain and Logistics News From WSJ – WSJ

Have our team put a quote together for your projects below:


When topics as broad as free trade re-negotiations, tariff amendments, any type of international border barriers to business are being discussed many of us want to be the fly on the wall that hears the discussion. We try to be that fly on the wall for you, our valued readers.

We know that you also want to know how to have your voices heard in that discussion, especially when you are directly affected.

One way to share your voice is to publish your concerns, insights, ideas or expertise online. Each week we publish and share industry news, our insights and reports that impact you as our readers. Do you have something that you would like us to share? Ask? Research for you? Let us know and we will add your requests to our weekly research and publishing goals.

6 Steps to Submitting Documentation to Your Customs Broker

There are many steps a carrier can take to ensure efficient entry into Canada prior to arrival. We have compiled 6 steps below.

Prior to Arrival

Step 1: Match loaded shipment to shipment paperwork

After loading, ensure that the documentation provided to you matches what was loaded on/in the trailer as well as what was transmitted to Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) via eManifest.  Ensure the cargo control number (CCN) or Pre-Arrival Review System (PARS) transmitted via eManifest matches what is provided to the customs broker.  Pay particular attention to commodity descriptions and piece counts. If the piece count or commodity differs, notify your dispatch. Do not send inaccurate documentation to the customs broker. This step helps to avoid inadvertently importing undeclared goods.

Step 2: Identify the customs broker for the shipment

Ensure you are aware of the customs broker in charge of submitting the entry to CBSA and obtain their current contact information. Once you have identified the customs broker, find their contact information by visiting their website. Submitting customs documentation to the incorrect broker or incorrect fax number or email address will result in the shipment not being accepted upon your initial request.

Step 3: Ensure you have all the paperwork needed to clear the shipment

Documentation includes the shipment invoice noting the commodities, piece count and weight actually loaded on the truck. Additional documentation can include phytosanitary certificates, certificates of origin and other documents that Other Government Departments (OGD) require in order to accept the load for entry into Canada. Please note however that in some cases, the carrier is only required to submit a bill of lading and PARS barcode with a reference number relating to paperwork previously submitted to the custom broker by the importing client. Missing information will result in processing delays with the customs broker.

Step 4: Prepare the documents for submission to the customs broker

  1. Place a bar-coded PARS sticker on each customs invoice. Ensure the PARS number matches what was transmitted via eManifest.  One PARS sticker can be used for each individual pickup and/or drop unless the load is from a consolidated warehouse. For more information on the difference between a consolidated and non-consolidated load please read our blog post entitled The No. 1 Contentious Issue with ACI eManifest – Consolidation.
  2. Under the PARS bar-code, write:
    1. The port in which you will be crossing into Canada.
    2. The estimated date and time of arrival (ETA) at the port of crossing with as much accuracy as possible.
  3. Include your name and contact information in case the broker needs to clarify or obtain additional information about the shipment.

Missing PARS bar-codes can result in Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) penalties, eManifest complications and/or delay in processing with the customs broker. Inaccurate ETA’s can backlog a customs broker and also delay processing time. Missing driver contact information inhibits the broker’s ability to contact the driver if there are any missing or illegible aspects of the documentation received.

Step 5: Submit the customs documentation in PDF format to the customs broker

Using the contact information obtained in step 2, carriers should submit all paperwork provided, including the information listed in step 4, to the customs broker. Often, attachments of word documents or picture files can be illegible to the customs broker. Therefore, ensuring the documentation is sent in PDF format can be the difference between expedited or delayed processing if the customs broker must contact the driver to request legible documentation. 

Please note: In addition to submitting customs documentation to the customs broker to obtain accepted entry status with CBSA, carriers are also responsible for reporting goods imported into Canada via ACI eManifest. Pacific Custom Brokers provides eManifest filing services for carriers. In those cases where Pacific Customs Brokers is both the customs broker for the shipment and the chosen eManifest service provider for the carrier, the carrier can include the ACI eManifest request sheet with their submission of customs documentation.

6. Check the acceptance status of the shipment

Ensure your shipment has received accepted status at least one hour prior to arriving at the port of crossing. At that time, if your shipment is not accepted for entry, you can work to rectify the issue prior to arriving at the port. Also ensure that the Cargo and Conveyance eManifest submission has received acceptance status.

Upon Arrival

On arrival at the border, present a machine readable bar-code to the Border Services Officer. This bar-code links the cargo data transmission to the information CBSA has in their system. The preferred option is a bar-coded Conveyance Reference Number (CRN) but a bar-coded Cargo Control Number (CCN) can be provided or both a bar-coded CRN and CCN. The CBSA officer will stamp the sheet with the bar-code as “proof of report”.

“Proof of release” can be obtained by obtaining a stamp on the PARS documents from the Border Services Officer at the time the cargo is released at first port of arrival or through  CBSA’s Release Notification System/RNS.

Are there additional steps you take to ensure efficient entry? Have questions or comments regarding the steps we have outlined? Leave them in our comments section below or email Ask Your Broker.

Video: What Are the Benefits of Using a Customs Broker?

Instead of spending your time overseeing complex customs procedures, let the professionals leverage their experience to complete the job with accuracy. In this video learn why it’s better to hire a professional customs broker.

Customs brokers can provide various services, which could include:

  • Preparing the initial release package for your shipment, which must be submitted to Customs electronically.
  • Confirming the entry of goods, and work with Customs and the Importer to ensure all tax, duties, and government fees are calculated and paid properly.
  • Assisting you with arranging the transportation of your goods.
  • Advising and consulting Importers on various aspects of importing, which could include: assisting in determining the landed costs of the goods, explore options for entry and duty/tax deferment, free-trade agreements, Importer’s obligations under the Customs Act, and regulatory compliance.
  • Arranging a preliminary clearance of the shipment pending full clearance once the shipment arrives at the port of entry.

Customs brokers can provide additional benefits, some of which include:

  • Risk Management: customs brokers ensure that the importer is complying with various Customs regulations. They are able to assist with complex issues and may be able to provide feedback on how to reduce the duties and taxes you pay.
  • Flexible Staffing: customs brokers alleviate the need for importers to have Licensed Customs Brokers or Certified Customs Specialists on staff, which allows the importer to focus on other aspects of their business. Customs brokers will also follow the shipment from start to finish, which means that the importer doesn’t require various staff members to be responsible for the different aspects of the import process.
  • Decrease Fixed Costs: customs brokers are required to have various programs and technology to help them carry out their day-to-day tasks or communicate with Customs. By using a customs broker, the importer forgoes the requirement of various hardware, software, maintenance costs, and associated overhead related to having an in-house Customs expert.

Do  you have questions about customs brokerage? We welcome your comments below or email  Ask Your Broker.


For more information on choosing a customs broker visit:

Subscribe to Newsletter | Customs Broker

Video: Courier Services Offer Customs Brokerage. What is the Difference?

In this video we highlight the difference between customs broker services offered by a courier and a dedicated customs brokerage firm.

The advantage of using a broker:


  1. Risk Management:
    • A customs broker will ensure that the importer is meeting the many new conditions under Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on-site compliance. The CBSA has embarked on a new and aggressive method of checking compliance – new on-site compliance will target all importers taking advantage of NAFTA, duty reductions, and other duty relief programs.
    • A customs broker will assist the importer with the increased complexity of NAFTA regulations, enabling him to take advantage of NAFTA and other trade agreement opportunities that can have a significant impact on the firm’s bottom line in reducing duties and taxes
    • A customs broker stays abreast of the growing number of rules, regulations, and conditions that allow the importer to qualify for NAFTA.
    • A customs broker provides the timely delivery of goods, which is critical for good client service.
  2. Flexible staffing
    • Customs brokers alleviate the need for importers to have staff with specialized customs knowledge and so frees up the importer to concentrate on revenue-generating core competencies.
    • Customs brokers manage peaks and valleys of importing volumes, creating automated entry documents from previously classified goods. This work is generally clerical in nature with some demand for knowledge of customs entry regulations.
    • Customs brokers provide post-entry work that may take the form of a refund or other payment amendment request to the CBSA. Changes in information regarding the description, value, quantity or origin of the imported goods often requires further processing.
    • Customs brokers provide shipping advice and monitoring and tracking of goods.
  3. Decreases the importer’s fixed costs
    Customs brokers provide:

    • IT support
    • Hardware
    • Software
    • Hardware/Software maintenance costs
    • Personnel and associated overheads
  4. Passive Control
    New technology on the part of the customs broker gives importers the ability to gain control over importing information without taking on the function (e.g. web-based trade information management solutions).
  5. Brokerage Fees
    Customs broker fees are usually only a small portion of your company’s overall importing cost.


If you are importing or exporting goods into Canada or the USA, Pacific Customs Brokers can help. Please contact us for Canadian and U.S. customs brokerage, trade and customs compliance consulting, international freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution services.

Do  you have questions about customs brokerage? We welcome your comments below or email  Ask Your Broker.


For more information on choosing a customs broker visit:


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 [email protected].

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


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