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What To Ask When Choosing A Customs Broker

Hugo Tanner 2016-07-22 16:00:00


Customs brokers take care of clearing goods through potential customs barriers for people and businesses that export and import. This may involve the completion and submission of paperwork; calculation and payment of taxes, excises, and duties; and facilitating communication between the importer/exporter and government authorities. Both individuals and business may hire a customs broker to help with these processes.

Over 200,000 importers have dealings with the Canada Border Services Agency every year. Most of those importers rely heavily on customers brokers to get their items cleared at the border. Here are some questions to ask potential customs brokers depending on your business needs.


If you are just starting your business and aren’t sure if you even need a broker, talk to a few before you make a decision. You can ask some questions when you talk about your business with different customs brokers.

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. What support can you offer me as a novice commercial importer/exporter?
  3. What info do you need from me to start assessing my needs?
  4. What risks are associated with importing or exporting commercial goods?
  5. How can you help me mitigate those risks?
  6. How will you charge me for your services?
  7. Will one person be assigned to my account?
  8. Will I be able to reach a live person 24 hours a day, 365 days a year?

If you would like more information about custom brokers and their services, there are more resources available at the Mississauga customs broker, Orbit Brokers & Forwarders Inc.


If you have been in business for a while, but make fewer than 1000 shipments a year, your questions to a potential customs broker will be a bit different than those mentioned above. Here are some questions to ask.

  1. How long have you been in business?
  2. How will we discuss regulatory or legislative changes that could affect my business
  3. How will you charge me for your services?
  4. Will just one person be assigned to my account?
  5. Can I reach someone to speak with at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year?
  6. Do you offer all of the services I will need to import or export?
  7. Can you handle customs clearance on items into the United States?
  8. Are you affiliated with any foreign customs brokers, carriers, or freight forwarders?
  9. How many Certified Trade Compliance Specialists and Certified Customs Specialists do you have working for you, and will one of them be handling my shipments?
  10. Are you a member of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers?


If you’ve got a  large import company with over 1000 shipments per year, or if your imports are valued at more than $1 million per year, you need to ask even more questions.

  1. Does your customs brokerage firm have a specific area of expertise?
  2. How do you offer your expertise to prospective clients?
  3. Are you able to offer references from current clients with the same or similar imports to mine?
  4. Do you have current knowledge of, and experience with, the type of goods that will be imported by my business?
  5. What do you need from me to start developing my database records?
  6. How do you let your clients know about changes to regulations and legislation that might affect their goods?
  7. How can we work together to come up with a compliance plan to minimize our exposure to administrative monetary penalties and clarify our responsibilities?
  8. How can we work together to make sure CBSA gets the electronic pre-arrival cargo info needed to meet eManifest requirements?
  9. Do you offer compliance webinars or seminars for clients?
  10. What makes you different from your competitors?


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