Freight forwarder versus customs broker, what’s the difference?

Freight forwarder versus customs broker, what’s the difference?

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Have you worked with customs brokers and shipping firms in the past? Perhaps you are new to the shipping industry and you are not sure what is what. Many people things that freight forwarders and customs brokers are the same, but they are not.  You need to understand what each does, so you can make the best decision for your shipment.

Freight Forwarder

Freight Forwarders will have a number of professional connections within their network who focus on logistics and the actual transport of goods. They will be in direct contact with anyone who may come in contact with the goods as they are exported. This will include trucks, plans, boats and of a combination of all transports. They will handle setting up the shipment as well as seeing it all the way through to its destination. They will care for all documentation that is needed and ensures all guidelines are followed. You will be charged one fee and the freight forwarder will set up the shipment, including all documentation and paperwork that is needed and follow the shipment till it reaches its destination.

Customs Broker

A customs broker can be an individual, partnership, association or corporation licensed, regulated and authorized by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to support with importers and exports. These types of brokers will be in charge of submitting all the necessary information and payments to the CBP on behalf of their client. The client will be charged a fee for their service.

Customs brokers will need to understand and have expert knowledge in the procedures and policies, admissibility requirements, classification, valuation, rates of duty, tax and fees when importing goods. They act as the middle man between the person importing and the government’s customs department in which it is being imported to.

The difference

A freight forwarder has a variety of responsibilities, while a customs broker has one very specific job. You may find that some freight forwarders are also customs brokers. This could be a separate service that they offer. However, not every customs broker will be a freight forwarder. Exporters may have a freight forwarder who works with a customs broker to ensure issues are cared for.

Regardless of which route you choose to go, having a good relationship with a freight forwarder can prove to be invaluable for your company.  Shipping is a difficult subject and needs to be handled by experts. One mistake can cause a shipment to be held up for months. There is a lot of detail that goes into importing and exporting goods. A business owner would have no way of keeping up with all the rules and regulations unless they employed someone full time to do so.

Customs Brokers and shipping firms can offer an invaluable service for your company. Make sure you take the time to understand what each can offer you, and you will have a pleasant experience when it comes to shipping your products.

Atlanta Customs Brokers is one of the oldest and most trusted customs brokerage and shipping firms in Atlanta.  Established in 1985, our company has been a fixture in and around the Atlanta airport and Savannah port for more than 31 years.  We enjoy working with our international partners and enjoy what we do.  If you are a first time importer or exporter or a large corporation, we can handle your needs.