Posts Tagged ‘Customs Brokerage’


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.

Importing in 2017? This is where you start.

Importing in 2017? This is where you start.

Access to everything you need to know about the basics of importing commercial goods –  the RIGHT way – plus the bonus of professional development credits!

For over 10 years Pacific Customs Brokers Inc. has been providing professional development courses. Educating, training and supporting entrepreneurs and businesses, both small and large, to master the art of importing their products has been a priority in our culture internally and with our clients.

We pride ourselves on being “old soul.” What does that mean? It means that we build relationships and add extreme value in every relationship we have while treating each as the most important we may ever have. This philosophy is for both our team internally and our clients globally. It is one of our differentiating factors – we care and we care deeply about individual and professional success.

Our body of educational material reflects that philosophy and has been accredited across a spectrum of professional development fields from Customs Brokers to Accountants or Lawyers. This beginners series runs at 10 am EST to accommodate managing your working days and you will find that we focus on making it easy and accessible for everyone.

Our Trade Compliance Education is offered in webinar format and can be attended from the comfort of your laptop anywhere you are during any of our 4 seasonal offerings of our sessions. It is convenient for you and it is priced affordably to be available to everyone requiring, or desiring to stay abreast or engaged in the ever changing world of International Trade Compliance.

How our Webinars work:

Our initial 60-minute webinars provide an efficient and comprehensive introduction to the U.S. importing process. Beginning with a brief overview of how to accurately complete documentation, the parties involved in the supply chain, basic compliance considerations prior to importing, common entry types, free trade agreement eligibility, possible risks of non-compliance such as penalties, and more.

It is easy to attend, simply follow the links below. If you have questions just give us a call. We are open 24/7 and always happy to hear from you, answer your questions and build relationships new and old.

Click on YOUR Importing for Beginners scenario below to register or learn more:


Importing to the US for Beginners Webinar

Importing to Canada for Beginners Webinar




PS: Don’t forget that as an added perk, attending as a Professional Designate may earn you maintenance credits to your designations. See if you are eligible for credits here.

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.


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 customer 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.