Dealing with Customhouse Brokers, Customs Broker Charges and Services

Licensed by the US Customs, Customs Brokers all charge about the same for their services clearing your shipments through US Customs but you should check before you engage them in the entry process on your behalf.

CustomsThe two charges that each and every bill from your broker will contain are the Entry Fee and the Bond Fee.

The entry fees run about $150 – 200 per shipment.

Bond fees are about $75 per a $50,000 bond. As an option you can purchase what’s called a “continuous bond” which can be used on a number of shipments being entered through the US Customs by you in a single calendar year; in other words, if you plan on importing several shipment per year it may be wise to buy a continuous bond.

Other customary charges on your broker’s bill will be ABI Processing, the so called Automated Brokerage Interface charges, which permit importers and brokers to file electronically  preliminary entry data in advance of the arrival of cargo. The charge is but a nominal fee of a few dollars.

You will be also be charged for each classification your broker must use, again a nominal charge of a few dollars. On the other hand, should you have a great assortment of goods these charges can add up. Typically, each broker will include 2-3 classifications free of charge and charge you $3-5 or more for each additional classification.

If customs orders your shipment to be inspected, your broker may pay for the move of your cargo to the customs exam site and bill you.

International communications, long distance calls, faxes etc. your broker had to make on your behalf will be also be billed to you accordingly by the broker.

You may also see messenger fees on your broker’s invoice. Those are typically charged to your broker by the messengers who carry the finished paperwork from your broker’s office to the US Customs office and back, if necessary, in the event that your broker must make some changes in the shipment entry documents.

All in all, the very minimum that services of a broker will cost you will be roughly about $200 plus per shipment.

Once you establish a good working relationship with your broker, your broker may also pay for your freight collect charges, if any, on your shipments that were shipped freight collect as oppose to pre-paid freight, and bill you; typically shipments shipped freight-collect will cost you about 15% more than pre-paid freight, thus are not a way to ship your goods as they will increase your goods’ landed costs, but in some order situations may become necessity.

Your broker could also pay your customs duties, if any, and then bill you after completion of the customs clearance process. This kind of service provided by your broker can greatly expedite your shipment’s entry process as compared to the scenario where you would have to make special trips to pay freight charges and duties first, each time delaying the clearing process, before your broker could continue and finish the entry process and you could pick up your goods.

The above is the summary of what you will most often find on your customs broker’s invoice. Needless to say there are number of other, unforeseen, but potential charges that you may may face in order to clear your shipment through customs. One of the most common extra charges will result when your shipment has arrived with improper documents, for example the descriptions on the invoice are too vague and the broker will need to amend the documents. Another, and very common problem is your goods are not all marked with the sticker of the country of origin, in which case the customs will order your broker to provide for the necessary marking requirements. Other time a proper visa may be missing, in which case your broker will have to contact your shipper, supplier or the respective trade office of the country you are importing from and request the correct document in order to clear your goods though customs. Any of such additional work on part of the broker will result in additional charges on your bill and cause delays in customs clearance.