Customs Broker FAQ – Frequently Asked International Shipping Questions

Below are a number of frequently asked questions about customs brokers, importing to Canada, and ISL Customs Brokers.

What is a customs broker and what can you do for my firm?
A customs broker is licensed by Revenue Canada to act as an agent for commercial companies importing goods to Canada. Customs brokers provide release instructions to Canada Customs as well as other government departments to permit the flow of imported goods. Customs brokers classify the goods according to the H.S. Tariff to apply duties and taxes owing to Revenue Canada. With the constantly changing rules and regulations, employing a customs broker makes good business sense.

How are a customs broker’s fees charged?
Customs brokers usually base their fees according to the dollar value of the shipment. In some instances, the customs broker and the client may agree on a flat rate per shipment or arrive at minimum/maximum amounts. At ISL Customs Brokers in Nanaimo, we will work with you to determine a fee schedule that is appropriate and suits your business goals.

Does my firm pay Revenue Canada?
The customs broker’s service includes disbursement of funds to Revenue Canada on your behalf, then invoice the client. Should volume(s) so warrant, importers may elect to open their own Canada Customs accounts.

My firm wants to sell goods to Canada on a landed price basis, inclusive of all duties, taxes and brokerage fees. Can this be done?
You are called a non-resident importer. Revenue Canada is presently reviewing this program. At present it is still possible. However, if your firm’s gross sales exceed $35,000 yearly, Revenue Canada will require a bond to protect any outstanding amounts owed them. Furthermore, you will have to reimburse Revenue Canada field auditors for travel expenses for the purposes of conducting on-premise audits guarantee that in order to maintain your office records outside Canada. ISL has the solutions you need for easy importing of goods into Canada.

You are a Nanaimo customs broker. Isn’t it better to use a customs broker at the port where my goods arrive?
ISL Customs Brokers in Nanaimo is fully EDI capable and able to provide release services at any port of entry in Canada utilizing “Across” technology. The modern customs broker industry is almost entirely electronic, meaning that we can expedite processing of your goods across any Canadian land, air or sea border.

Isn’t it faster to use a local broker in that area?
ISL knows no boundaries! In today’s electronic age, we can monitor, trace and release goods anywhere in Canada. Contacting us is easy, by toll-free telephone, fax or e-mail. We offer 24-hour service. When it comes to customs brokerage efficiency, it is experience and attention to detail that make a difference. ISL has five decades of experience in moving goods across international borders on behalf of our clients. Whether your business is in Nanaimo, British Columbia, or anywhere in Canada ISL is your first choice for customs broker services.

My courier company offers customs brokerage services, why not use them?
Couriers are freight carriers first. At ISL our business is customs clearance. This makes us your first and best choice at very competitive rates. The world of international trade is vast, you need a broker who knows its “customs.”

What is the difference between a customs broker vs freight forwarder?
A freight forwarder is an agent that facilitates moving cargo from it’s point of origin to a specified destination, whether over land, air or sea. They specialize in freight costs, port fees, documentation, packaging and insurance issues. The difference between a customs broker vs freight forwarder is that a customs broker is licensed to transact customs business on behalf of others. At ISL, our Nanaimo customs brokers deal with all issues related to the entry and admissibility of merchandise to Canada, it’s valuation and classification and the payment or refund of duties, taxes or other charges. At ISL Customs Brokers we work closely with freight forwarders to ensure your goods are quickly and efficiently cleared through customs so the freight forwarder can deliver them as specified.

Can’t my firm receive better service from a national customs broker?
Large firms do not necessarily mean better service. Experience and attention to detail means better service in the customs broker business! At ISL we specialize in providing service not usually found elsewhere. At ISL you receive the personal attention and service you need to ensure your goods keep moving, so you can devote more time to improving your business. At ISL, we strive to know each of our clients by name, not a number.

What if there is a problem with importing my goods?
If you experience problems, one phone call from ISL Customs Brokers in Nanaimo can usually solve it. The person you are dealing with has the authority to make the client happy and come to a mutually agreed decision.

Can you sum up the quality services offered by ISL Customs Brokers?
Our business is international trade services. Our strength is knowledge and service. Our goal is to use that knowledge and service to our clients’ best advantage.

Can ISL help me export my goods overseas or to the US?
If you require ocean shipping we are able to arrange the marine transport requirements for you. However, as the importer of the goods is responsible for their clearance in the country of destination, the importer must make their own import arrangements.

What type of documents do I need to prepare?
Requirements vary from country to country. Normally a properly completed invoice showing shipper/purchaser/detailed description of goods/quantity/origin of the goods and currency of settlement will suffice. Goods exported to the USA/Mexico valued more than $1,600 also require the North American Certificate of Origin in order that the goods may claim the preferential rates of duty under NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). Goods such as textiles, electronics or raw materials such as lumber have special documentation requirements. You may wish to contact a customs broker in the country of destination for details.

Contact ISL Customs Brokers for more information.