Choosing the right customs broker for furniture from China
Furniture sourcing in China is not only about going to the markets, visiting factories and choosing the items you like. After you make a purchase there is a long process of customs clearance and delivery. Who should you entrust such an important thing? We have business partners all over the world and are always happy to help you with it. However, some of our clients choose to look for customs broker themselves because local brokers are aware of all the customs rules of your country and delivery in your area. If you are among them, then this article is for you.
Customs clearance is a big deal. The final cost of all your purchase depends on it. Customs broker is an expert in country-specific rules and regulations and also is responsible for all paperwork. Working with a specialist will definitely make the shipping of the goods much easier. So the question of choosing the right customs broker is really crucial. So how to choose a professional?
First, you should check on the Internet the information about companies the brokers work in and pay attention to:
- history of the company
- the address of the company
- the number of staff
Never choose a customs broker without comparing at least a couple of them. It’s an important sacrifice of your time to research than rush into a relationship with a wrong broker. Compare price, experience, references and more to be sure that this is the broker you need.
Next, it can be a good idea to meet your broker in person. Let the broker learn more about you and your purchase.
Characteristics of a reliable broker
- Confident behaviour: a broker should be competent in the field, understand all the risks and guarantee the result.
- Frankness: a good broker should be honest and warn you about all the difficulties that might appear during the customs clearance.
- Strategic thinking: a broker can predict potential problems and outline plan B.
- Scrupulousness and consistency. For a good customs broker, there are no trifles that are not worth considering.
- A sober assessment of opportunities: a professional broker can refuse to work if it’s beyond its capabilities.
And also pay attention to the appearance, a good broker looks neat and presentable. If a broker doesn’t take care of the appearance, it’s unlikely that you can entrust your business to this person.
Important questions to ask a customs broker
Can you do both customs clearance and delivery?
Not all brokers do both. However, it is much easier if one company can take care of customs clearance and delivery and you spare your nerves and time on finding and communicating with two companies.
What goods shouldn’t I import in my country?
Every country has its own protectionist policy. That’s why for some goods there can be high taxes and for others - low. A good customs broker should be aware of it and explain it before the purchase. For example, in the USA the tax for tiles is very high, so there is no point to buy it abroad because later you’ll have to pay the same price at customs clearance.
How much will customs clearance and delivery cost?
No customs broker can say the exact cost of customs clearance and delivery without an actual invoice. If you provide someone else’s invoice the end cost can differ a lot. A very rough quotation can be done then and only then is there a precise list of goods that have been purchased including weight, volume and materials. So the only way to know an approximate cost is to make a list of things that are going to be purchased (with a detailed description of sizes and materials) and send it to the customs broker. He/she can make a rough quotation of customs expenses. However, be ready that during the clearance the cost can be different according to the goods that have been purchased.
Do I need any certificates for the goods that I am importing?
A good customs broker should know what groups of goods need special certification. The most common are:
- Certificate of Origin (CO) certifies that goods are manufactured in a particular country. It contains information regarding the product, its destination and the country of export. In some countries providing certificates can also save you some money. For example, if the usual tax is 15% of the cost, it will be only 8% if the certificate (CO) is provided. (important! not in every country).
- Fumigation certificate is a document that proves that all wooden packaging materials in the container have been fumigated. In some countries the goods can’t go through the customs without this certificate and can be even destroyed.
- Certificate of conformity (CoC) certifies that the product meets the required standards or specification, necessary for customs clearance of import to many countries around the world. If you are building a new house, the inspection will ask you about certificates for sure, however, in many countries if you are just renovating a house, the inspection is unlikely to come.
The documents that are necessary for customs clearance can vary from country to country. That’s why it should be discussed with a broker who is an expert in it. The specialist can say for which groups of products it is necessary to ask a manufacturer to provide certificates for. The preparation of these documents needs time, so it’s better to inform the suppliers about it in advance during purchasing goods. (IMPORTANT!) These certificates are not the responsibility of a customs broker. The specialist should only inform whether they are required for customs clearance or not.
And last but not least, choose a person who you feel comfortable with and who is ready to answer all the questions because you will have to discuss a lot of details with a broker during the whole process of customs clearance and delivery.
To conclude, a customs broker should be a close partner during the whole process of customs clearance and delivery. Be sure to give all the information about the goods necessary to handle the entries and at the same time get all the details from the broker about each step of the customs clearance. You can inform us about all the required certificates for the customs clearance in your country, and we will contact the suppliers and ask them to prepare them for you.
Note: if the customs fee in your country is calculated according to the invoice, you can always inform us about it and we will do our best to make the prices in the invoice a bit lower. If you still have any questions, you can contact our managers.
Do you provide a door-to-door delivery service?
We can do it, however, it is better to work with a local customs broker/logistic company because we are not familiar with all the specifics of your city and roads. A local specialist should know what is the best way to deliver a container, whether containerships are forbidden to enter a specific road or it’s not wide enough for them. If the house is located in a villa compound or some community, it’s better to contact the management as a containership might not be allowed to enter it.