So What Does A Customs Broker Actually Do?

Customs broker


If you are considering importing a product or item from another country, it’s important to understand the fundamentals of importing. A licensed U.S. customs broker can help you identify the questions you should ask and let you know the documentation you’ll need in order to clear U.S. Customs when the product or item arrives in the United States. Consulting fees vary and are usually charged on a per hour basis. Some of the things to know before you import might be:

What is the product / item’s country of origin? This may not be the same as the country from which you are purchasing the product / item. It must be the country where the majority of the product / item is manufactured, produced or grown. An article changed in a secondary country may change the articles country of origin but only if it constitutes a substantial transformation – so only if a new article with a different name, character, AND use is created. Textiles are extremely particular and expert advice should be sought prior to purchasing textile articles.

Does the product / item fall under anti-dumping or countervailing duty rulings? “Dumping occurs when a foreign producer or exporter sells a product in the United Sates at a price that is below ‘normal value’.” cbp.gov Countervailing duty refers to the subsidization or financial assistance to help with the production or exportation of goods. Both of these shift the advantage to the foreign producer and hurts U.S. manufacturers. Anti-dumping duties and countervailing duties are used to offset the advantage and level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers. You, the importer, will be required to pay the increased duties assessed to these types of entries. So, if you’ve found that super inexpensive sink you’d like to sell in the U.S., take a look to see if there are anti-dumping / countervailing duties first because you may have extreme additional duties you’ll have to pay once the item arrives and you may be just as well buying American made.

What is my products proper tariff classification? The U.S. tariff code (HTSUS) can be found online. Take a look. You’ll notice that it is quite large and can be very complicated to work through. A customs broker has the experience to help you find the right tariff classification for your goods. They can also help you file for a binding ruling if the tariff classification is unclear.


A customs broker makes an entry for you – the importer. That means that we let the United States government know that your product is headed to the U.S.. How do we do that?

We’ll ask you to fill out a Limited Power of Attorney that allows us to conduct customs business on your behalf.

We’ll help you procure a bond so that U.S. Customs and Border Protection are assured they’ll get the duties and other fees owed them.

Then we’ll ask you for some documents required for importing that include invoice, packing list and bill of lading.

If your shipment is arriving via ocean freight, the first thing our customs broker will file for you is an ISF (Importer Security Filing). Failure to file this 24 hours prior to the cargo being laden on the vessel destined for the U.S. will incur fines of $5,000+.

We will then monitor the shipment via ocean or air and 5 days prior to its arrival, will make entry into the U.S. Customs portal giving them all the details of the shipment. We will also inform other government agencies that require notification.

We will insure duties are paid by you and collect any additional fees for services rendered. Once your cargo has arrived and all is good, we’ll make sure you receive it expeditiously.


Here at Unit International we are also a licensed freight forwarder. That means we can handle your freight from the foreign source all the way to the end destination and any part in-between. Just ask! We have competitive rates and great personal customer service.