If your business involves you exporting or importing products, you know that getting your shipment through the customs stations is always an elaborate task. The paperwork seems cumbersome, especially if you do not necessarily possess the technical know-how of the regulations.
To ease the process, the Government of India provides a 'Customs House Agent (CHA)' or 'Customs Broker' license to individuals who help the traders take care of all their documentation and other customs-related obligations.
Who is a Customs House Agent or Customs Broker?
In the Indian context, a Customs House Agent (CHA) or a Customs Broker is a license holding individual that helps exporters and importers with their shipments at the customs station. They act as a liaison between their clients and the customs authorities and help their clients with all the necessary documents for their cargo. CHAs ensure that the shipment passes through the customs without any hassles and reaches the destination on time.
When do you need a Customs Broker?
The ideal time to contact a customs broker is before you sign any international trade, for the very fact that a qualified broker is highly equipped to guide you through the entire process and plan the customs clearances well in advance. They will advise you on what terms and conditions to keep in the agreement. If you are an importer, even if you choose to visit the international facility to administer your cargo, it is always preferable to keep your broker in the loop during the process.
Doing so mitigates the risk of your cargo running into any trouble at the customs station because of lack of documentation or other technicalities. Having a customs broker represent you or just by your side from the time of initiation of the contract pays off in the end.
What does a Customs Broker or CHA do?
As per the Customs Act 1962, IATA regulations, and the Customs Broker Licensing Regulations of 2018, the three main activities of a Customs Broker are:
1) Inward and outward processing of vessels and carriages. This means that a customs broker can undertake the clearance of conveyances, inwards and outwards entries of all the different types of carriers like ships, railway trains, and aircraft.
2) Import and Export of goods.
3) An audit of the same at any customs station that has endorsed the broker
Benefits of having a customs broker
1. Make Informed Trade Decisions Staying aware of all the regulatory and policy changes can often be a cumbersome task, especially when you have an entire business to take care of. This can be avoided by hiring a CHA to represent you in front of the customs department. Their technical know-how ensures that your paperwork holds like a fort and that there are no last-minute complications with the cargo.
2. Get the Best Out of Global Trade Scenarios Countries enter into trade agreements all the time to boost the export-import business between them. A CHA keeps a close eye on all such changing scenarios and alerts you when a lucrative window opens up. You can get the most out of such opportunities with an alert, hands-on customs broker by your side.
3. Never Run Out of Steam Customs brokers are professionals who are trained to process an enormous amount of paperwork in record time because that is their core competency. They have all the tools of the trade, all the resources at their disposal. Their resource pool is quite extensive, and they can dip into them when required. You can leverage all of these by hiring a competent CHA or a customs broker.
4. Sail Smoothly Through Compliance A customs broker or a CHA is well versed with all the regulations and compliance of all the major countries. Once you hire a competent CHA, you no longer have to lose your sleep over filing important paperwork for your shipment. Your CHA guides you through all the necessary processes and gets you the clearances required to import or export the cargo.
CHAs are also well equipped with the customs jargon and can prove to be a vital asset during the entire export/import process..