Double Team: Working in Tandem with a Customs Broker and a Freight Forwarder

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Double Team: Working in Tandem with a Customs Broker and a Freight Forwarder

While we often discuss the importance of meeting the necessary requirements to get your shipment cleared at the border into Canada once it reaches that point, there is still an entire voyage that your imported goods will go on — and each step in that journey — to consider.

Oftentimes, customs brokers will team up with another group of experts called freight forwarders to get your shipment from point A to point B.

There are two keys to determining whether or not you need both players on your team. The first, — which people sometimes confuse! — is knowing that customs brokers and freight forwarders are not one and the same. The second, and more important, involves knowing what specific needs are required of your import’s journey and whether you need assistance beyond a customs broker.

Let’s explore the differences further…

What Differentiates Freight Forwarders from Customs Brokers?

Whereas customs brokers work directly with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ensure that all of the necessary paperwork, permits, and requirements have been met for the successful clearance of your import, freight forwarders help your suppliers by working with carriers and other companies to establish every other aspect of the supply chain.

Among the numerous tasks and fine details freight forwarders dabble in, they’re responsible for:

  • Determining an itinerary of arrivals and departures from one origin point to the next;
  • Booking all necessary modes of transportation, whether by air, by land or by sea, as well as ensuring all goods in transit are safe and secure;
  • Assisting with compliance to ensure the necessary export documents and filings are complete and don’t violate any federal regulations or Incoterms (international commercial terms) set out for international buyers and sellers;
  • Negotiating freight rates; and
  • Notifying suppliers of any fees associated with their arranged logistics (insurance, port charges, etc.).

Where confusion sometimes enters the process involves some importers believing customs brokers and freight forwarders can take on the same responsibilities. While some freight forwarders are tasked with work normally handled by customs brokers, the wiser strategy is to work with both.

Why Should You Work With Both?

Generally speaking, there are three main reasons you would want to have both a customs broker and freight forwarder on your side:

  1. To help you avoid a situation in which one resource is being spread too thin;
  2. To ensure each set of experts handles only the respective tasks in which they specialize; and
  3. To double the level of expertise assisting you with your import.

With all of the details and documentation involved in getting your goods to Canada, it’s important to have as many experts at your disposal to take care of each necessary task. Given customs brokers and freight forwarders each possess such unique skill-sets and are equipped to handle very specific tasks at different stages of your import’s journey, having those skill-sets front and centre at the right moments will, ultimately, give you confidence in the job being done right.

Translation: You save time. You save money. You go home happy with your shipment in hand!

When you’re working with a customs broker and freight forwarder that are independent of each other, both sides should always be in communication with each other to ensure all needs are being met — and, in turn, creating that alliance also helps strengthen the partnership between you and your supplier.

Facing the prospect of importing goods that will require a complex supply chain? Want to know just how exactly what kind of excellent service we can provide you when teamed with a freight forwarder? Contact us today and let’s discuss how we can create a team that works for you!