Comparing Canadian customs brokers: A basic overview for importers!

If you want to import goods into Canada for personal or commercial reasons, it’s important to know the rules first. You have to make sure that all tariffs, duties, and taxes are paid, and regulations set by Canada Border Services Agency are met. Import regulations are subject to change, often very frequently, and more often than not, relations between countries evolve, and so do trade agreements. International trade can be complicated, and any mistake on part of the importer in Canada can be risky and have consequences. Working with a customs broker, such as Clearit Canada, can ease your worries considerably.

To begin with, note that all customs brokers are licensed by the CBSA, and while hiring one has many benefits, there is no rule that states that you need a customs broker to import in Canada. That said, here are some quick things to understand about comparing brokers in general.

The basics

First things first, figure out your importing business. Individuals importing for personal reasons don’t have much to worry about, because it is probably a one-off thing for them. For commercial importers, it’s important to determine the scale of operations. For instance, if you intend to import only selected goods and only a few times every year, you don’t need an extensively experienced customs broker. That said, note that the expertise and experience of a broker is critical for your business, because they can help you mitigate and avoid risks related to importing.

Ask the right questions

To compare customs brokers¸ there are a few questions that are worth asking-

  1. How long has the customs broker been in business?
  2. Do they work regularly with new and established importers & exporters?
  3. Will they offer references on request?
  4. What kind of services do they provide?
  5. Are they experienced with customs audits?
  6. Do they offer customs consulting?
  7. What information do they need to help your company?
  8. How does the customs broker charge?
  9. Do they have customer support around the clock?
  10. Who will handle your account? Can you talk to a real person?

Finally, do discuss the extent to which they have worked in your industry. As a client, you should be able to trust the customs broker for the work they do, and they should be transparent, flexible and reliable in their approach. Keep in mind that customs brokers don’t need an office at the port of entry to help clients or work with the CBSA, but their expertise makes a big difference.

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