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Sea freight shipping allows importers and exporters to move goods of all sizes across the world. Ocean carriers transport a large volume of containers all over the globe. This is due to an intricate supply chain shipping arrangements that depend on shippers, freight forwarders, customs brokers, and movers in the industry.

Freight forwarders and customs brokers are two very vital entities in the shipping industry. While they can often be the same company in many cases, the two types of shipping professionals focus on different parts of the process.

At Asiana USA, we can perform the duties of both, acting as both your freight forwarder and your customs broker in one. However, the duties of each are different, and it is important to know what each is responsible for.

Freight Forwarder vs Customs Broker: What’s the Difference?

When a shipment arrives at a port, it will either be processed as delivered or prepared to be forwarded to its next location. Freight forwarders are shipping professionals that focus on the logistics side of transportation of cargo and deal with the physical movement of shipments. They will usually be in contact with shippers and agents working with ships, trains, trucks, or planes and will organize shipments according to a combination of these transportation methods.

In essence, freight forwarders act as your cargo’s travel agent, putting together a schedule, shipping cost, and a bill of lading, which provides details of the shipment’s contents and value. A freight forwarder will usually be in charge of collecting and filing the proper paperwork. While a freight forwarder handles all aspects of moving your cargo, they do not necessarily handle duties, taxes, fees, or required documentation for importing and exporting through foreign ports.

On the other hand, a customs broker in the United States must be an officially licensed entity regulated and empowered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The CBP manages and helps importers and exporters meet United States government customs requirements. A customs broker will collect, file and submit accurate information on their client’s behalf. They also will handle duty payments to CBP for the client and will collect a charge for the service.

Customs brokers have years of expertise dealing with import and export regulations, product classification, valuation of goods, and handling correct duty and fees. If you are using a customs broker separate from your freight forwarder, they will specifically act as an intermediary between an importer and the customs department in the country being imported to.

At Asiana USA, we have years of experience working with importers and exporters around the world and offer both freight forwarding and customs clearance services.

Why Does Sea Freight Shipping Require Brokers?

Freight forwarding can refer to a number of companies responsible for some part of the supply chain management process of moving cargo and goods across the world. Customs brokers deal specifically with the importing entity and the country of import and provide experience when it comes to valuation, due process, and paperwork. Also, a customs broker must be licensed.

The valuation of goods between countries and the paperwork and duty involved is largely the concern of the customs broker. While US exporters may need a customs broker, they may need one in the country the goods are being imported to. For most major ports, customs are handled on import, but check with your customs broker, as they will be able to offer insight on this.

Since most goods and cargo travel via ocean, brokers are necessary to facilitate the transaction for imports. Otherwise, shippers would have to make sure their own paperwork is properly filed, goods valued correctly, as well as deal with foreign language and currencies. In order to support a healthy supply chain, it is beneficial to have a customs brokerage represent you in such matters.

Ocean Freight Services

Freight forwarders can be customs brokerages, and often times they are. However, not all customs brokerages are freight forwarders, and will only focus on the transactional part of your shipments. Companies that do both can help optimize your supply chain using only one point of contact. Asiana USA is proud to be your trusted freight broker and also handle customs clearance for you.

Final Thoughts

Customs and customs brokers are an important part of the global supply chain. When shipping huge amounts of goods across the world, a lot of paperwork, payments, and transactions are made daily. Customs brokerage facilitates this part of the process, making sure all fees, duty, and taxes are handled correctly and on time. If shippers had to handle this on their own, it would slow down the entire shipping process dramatically and would likely have a much higher margin of error.

Leaving the specifics of shipping regulations in the hand of customs brokers is something all importers and exporters benefit from, as it allows them to focus on their business rather than managing their supply chain.

At Asiana USA, we are experts in importing and exporting, handling your shipment from door to door. Call Asiana USA today at (323)-250-9407 to see how we can help support your supply chain and facilitate your shipping practices.

Jeff is a media producer and content creator based out of Los Angeles, CA. He has an MA in English Literature and Creative Writing. He works in media production, collaborating with brands such as Nike, Disney, HBO & Netflix. Jeff also works with exhibitors and venues to organize logistics, shipping, and delivery. In his free time, Jeff Smith enjoys reading and writing about technology, entrepreneurship, wellness, logistics and travel.
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