Stephen Huang, OEC Group’s National CHB Operations Performance Manager, describes the important benefits of an in-house broker and outlines basic Customs & Brokerage operations.
What is the advantage of an in-house broker versus outside broker? And why should you use a custom broker?
The benefit of an in-house broker is that customers can have immediate access to every piece of logistical information needed. Customs clearance documents can be processed efficiently, and no shipment or commodity is too niche. Brokerage team members also have extensive experience organizing clearance for all kinds of commodities, move types (ocean, air, rail, and truck), and shipment sizes. Peace of mind is another positive when it comes to relying on in-house brokerage because the shipper does not need to handle documentation themselves or to vet an unknown third-party broker. Finally, the brokerage team will take full responsibility of any situation regarding customs clearance and documentation, removing liability from the shipper.
What preparations are needed for a smooth Customs clearance process?
The first essential step that must be done is preparing and validating Power of Attorney (POA). This legal designation authorizes the movement of conveyances and merchandise into the United States, and it allows your broker to assume responsibility for that movement. A valid POA allows your brokerage team to work directly with U.S. Customs and Border Protection on national security objectives having to do with data verification and inbound inventory screening. This is also an important step in transferring responsibility to the broker and to legally ensure that they demonstrate “reasonable care” when handling your shipments.
How does your team keep up with the quickly evolving legal landscape of international shipping? (Tariffs, exclusions, etc.)
Right now, rules and regulations are more fluid than ever. At our Customs & Brokerage department, we have a Compliance Team that is completely dedicated this issue. It’s built of team members with expertise in this exact field, and they constantly monitor the global landscape for potential tariffs, exclusions for those tariffs, and any general changes to shipping law. The Compliance Team leverages industry communication tools provided by US Customs, the US International Trade Commission, and all other trade-related government agencies.
How can an effective brokerage operation add value to your shipment?
Brokerage is about streamlining your timeline and minimizing customs clearance costs. Proper document filing and proactive communication with US customs won’t speed up your freight, but it will eliminate any bureaucratic interruptions, which could significantly delay final delivery of your goods. Pinpointing tariffs and tariff exclusions will let you avoid unnecessary duties and keep costs as low as possible. With transportation as historically expensive as it is right now, a good brokerage team can help you keep your profit margins as large as possible on the back-end when your shipment gets where it needs to go.