Clearit.ca's Blog on Customs Brokerage and News Updates
Importers work in a difficult industry, filled with strict rules and minute details. Amongst a barrage of required paperwork and governmental policies lies a potential problem for business owners in the import industry: human error. If the proper homework isn’t done beforehand, items could be held up by Canada’s Border Services Agency (CBSA).
But even with all the severe repercussions that could occur if a document isn’t labelled properly or if the incorrect tax is placed on an item, many within the industry choose to engage without the use of a customs broker — and without an expert keeping track of complicated laws and regulations, importers can run into heavy fines and even jail time.
It can go south very quickly…
As an importer, your mission is to get goods to their destination without any hiccups, scratches, delays, or unexpected complications. To save time, you think, you decide to go ahead without a customs broker.
At first glance, the paperwork seems simple enough. No doubt there’s a lot of it, but you’ve done the research. You’ve studied the Canadian Harmonized Tariff Codes, and reviewed the items that are legally allowed to be imported into the country.
Every item is listed correctly, with the proper codes beside their name… you’re pretty sure. You think you’ve expertly imposed the correct amount of tax on each item, as you know they vary from province to province. Communications with the country of origin was completed months prior to the actual import date.
You found all the time to single handedly liaised your own importing process with a foreign government, while relaying details to the Government of Canada. Finally, the time comes to begin the importing process; the hassle, the months of deliberation, and pouring over documentation can finally come to an end, you think.
But, suddenly, all of your hard work is erased at the blink of an eye. Your item is not clearing foreign soil — in fact, it needs to be held at a warehouse for an unforeseen amount of time.
Now you need to contact the terminal — be it land, sea, or air — to determine your next step. How long will your containers be held? Can your items be held in a container for an extended period of time? Was there a problem in the documentation? Are your items being delayed because of an unexpected government related issue?
These problems will continue to pile up, unless you’re prepared. Quite frankly, these aren’t problems that an importer wants. When the problems begin to mount, you’re losing precious time from running day-to-day operations, keeping employee relations and ensuring satisfied customers across the board.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a small or large importer — costly, unseen delays can happen to anyone.
Enter the customs broker…
When you reach this critical juncture in the importing process, it’s safe to say you are too little, too late. Though brokers are experts, a broker isn’t a magician; they need time to prepare, and importing goods into Canada is not an easy feat.
However, contacting a customs broker early on in the importing process will save you a lot of time and potential headache. A broker will look for the best transportation, liaise with governments and the proper governing bodies, make sure you’re staying compliant and within regulations, as well as keep an eye out for the most cost-effective process. And in today’s importing landscape, many would suggest converting to modern technology, such as digital clearance technologies, in order to stay transparent and efficient.
Rather than worry about all of the problems that can pile up when one thing goes wrong in the importing process, use your time wisely and focus on what matters: your business.
Stop hesitating, and make the call!
A broker will ensure that all of the minute details are taken care of. Everything you tried to cover in the scenario earlier will be handled by a broker and more. Why? Because it’s their job to make sure shipments are received on time and cleared at the border in the timely fashion. Your broker will be steps ahead and prepared for this unforeseen warehouse hold up.
Remember, a good customs broker will become a business partner for life. Contact us today to find out more about how you could benefit from using a customs broker, and about the digital clearance process.