More Glossary Terms

Customs Brokerage

Customs brokerage in transportation refers to clearing goods through customs. Importers, exporters, and regulatory agencies leverage customs brokerage services for international and cross-border trade shipping.
What Is Customs Brokerage?
A customs brokerage acts on behalf of their clients to ensure all goods in a shipment comply with necessary regulatory requirements.

Throughout the transportation lifecycle, a customs brokerage typically manages the following customs compliance clearance tasks and processes:

  • Prepare documents such as invoices, packing lists, and certificates of origin.
  • Gain clearance for goods by ensuring all goods meet regulatory requirements.
  • Facilitate communication between importers, exporters, and customs authorities.
  • Resolve issues that arise as goods move through customs processes and approvals.
  • Coordinate with logistics providers on shipping timelines and customs requirements.
  • Stay up to date on regulations, compliance requirements, and trade policies.
  • Guide clients around or through potential customs roadblocks.
What Is a Customs Broker?

Customs brokers facilitate the clearance of goods across borders and are responsible for ensuring those items move safely and legally through the customs process. Freight forwarders, third-party logistics (3PL) providers, fright carrier companies, and licensed individuals typically offer such compliance solutions.

What Does a Customs Brokerage Do?

Customs brokers serve as a facilitator and a point of communication between parties involved in global trade and compliance. These services are crucial to the health of the global supply chain and reduce risk for shippers.

Classifying Goods: Customs brokers pinpoint the exact Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) codes for goods. This step decides the duties, taxes, and regulations applicable to each item, and thus accurate classification is essential to the smooth flow of goods across borders.

Managing Documents: Customs brokers handle, fill out, and submit documentation required for legal international and cross-border shipping. Customs compliance processes call for documents such as invoices, customs entries, permits, bills of lading, airway bills, and export declarations.

Ensuring Compliance: Customs regulations change often and staying up-to-date helps ensure clients meet all legal requirements while also reducing the risk of delays or penalties.

Valuing Goods: Customs brokers determine the value of goods for every shipment they’re responsible for. This valuation requires a deep understanding of methods and the creation of supporting documents. The valuation of goods contributes to duty calculations, tariff classification, and overall customs clearance.

Advising Customers: Companies with global trade needs rely on customs brokers to guide them proactively and responsively through necessary tasks, requirements, and roadblocks.

What is Customs Brokerage Service?

Customs brokerage services help reduce risk throughout the customs compliance process during cross-border and international transportation. Customs brokers offer a varied selection of services, which typically include management of documents, processes, communication, and disruption management.

See Customs Brokerage solutions in action

Customs Brokerage Responsibilities

Managing the import filing process.

Documents and information collected by customs authorities must be accurate and complete and submitted within the required time frame. This is a multistep process that involves preparing, checking, labeling, and accurately delivering all necessary documents to the carrier or customs broker.

Completing and managing documentation.

Efficient document management cuts down on the potential for delays and fines. It requires customs brokers to ready all customs clearance documents using systems that can handle declarations, validate information, and ensure compliance. Completion of customs clearance and compliance paperwork requires attention to detail, particularly when filing the customs entry. This document is used to calculate duties and lists critical shipment details such as the country of origin, a description of goods, Cost, Insurance and Freight (CIF) value, and Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code.

Providing effective communication and expertise.

Beyond filing and documentation tasks, customs brokers play a critical role as facilitators of global customs and trade compliance. As a facilitator and expert on this part of supply chain management, customs brokers must communicate clearly and often with clients and regulatory parties. Whenever customs and compliance requirements change or if challenges occur, customs brokerages should be a reliable source of truth for their clients.

How MercuryGate Helps Customs Brokerages and Importers Streamline Customs Clearance

Global trade heavily relies on customs brokers to make sure everything runs like clockwork by managing import documents under the pressure of tight timelines. MercuryGate provides importers and customs brokers access to a comprehensive trade management platform that automates customs brokerage workflows, protects profits, and enhances communication to improve end-customer experiences.

With the help of advanced software embedded into the MercuryGate TMS, businesses dramatically reduce processing times, minimize human errors, stay current on compliance changes, track shipments in real-time, and quickly share information with clients

MercuryGate’s customs brokerage management module features and automation tools enhance processes and reduce manual task load.

  • Automated Brokerage Interface (ABI) to Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) streamlines the submission of customs data, reducing the reliance on manual entries and accelerating the customs clearance process, directly contributing to greater operational efficiency.
  • Centralized Data Management is a key feature that organizes all customs-related information in one place, enabling easy access, retrieval, and analysis of data, which simplifies compliance and document management tasks for customs brokers.
  • Comprehensive Compliance Tools include specialized modules designed for compliance management, such as tools for identifying and screening denied parties and automated document management systems that ensure all filings are up-to-date and in line with current regulations.

In addition to customs brokerage tools, MercuryGate’s global trade management stack provides support and resources that encompasses import clearance, export management, trade financing, and transportation execution.

Import Clearance: Once goods hit the border, MercuryGate TMS makes clearing those imports faster and easier by delivering automation and providing visibility to support precise documentation, accurate duty calculation, and timely payment.
Export Management: Staying compliant and communicative is easy with MercuryGate TMS. The platform helps businesses stay abreast of export rules and gives them access to documentation. Through automation and communication tools embedded in the platform, businesses can easily follow best practices for exporting goods across borders.
Trade Financing: Facilitating international transactions between buyers and sellers is simple and streamlined in the MercuryGate TMS. The platform allows exporters to receive timely payments and importers to secure their goods.

Transportation Execution: With a rich suite of tools that span the entirety of transportation management, MercuryGate TMS transforms international logistics management tasks into efficient and cost-effective business processes. From multi-currency conversion and real-time ocean freight visibility to extensive claims management and load optimization capabilities, technology from MercuryGate simplifies shipping across all industries and modes.

MercuryGate’s Customs Brokerage Management modules ensure accuracy and efficiency for customs brokers and self-filing importers. Businesses can maximize operations with:

  • 7501 Entry Summary
  • Transportation Entry & Manifest of Goods Filing
  • APHIS Core PGA Submission
  • Cargo Release Form 3461 Filing
  • Customs Duty Statement
  • Delivery Order Publishing
  • Document Image System (DIS) Publishing
  • EPA NOA Filing
  • FDA PGA Filing
  • Importer Security Filing (10+2)
  • NHTSA PGA Filing
  • SIMP PGA Filing
Leveraging technology like MercuryGate’s Customs & Trade Compliance software protects profit margins for customers by delivering end-to-end supply chain visibility and operational efficiency. MercuryGate TMS provides the confidence and agility to successfully navigate an ever-changing logistics landscape.

For more information on thriving in global trade, watch our webinar, Navigating Critical Aspects of Global Trade to Keep Freight Moving.

Download the eBook 2024 Guide to Thriving in Global Trade for more information to review.

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