differences between a customs broker and an agent

Customs Broker vs. Agent: Key Differences Explained

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In the complex world of international trade, there’s always rules and regulations to know and to be aware of during the import and export of goods. Is essential for a business engaged in the global commerce industry to seek out the best practices that will bring cost-efficiency and compliance during transactions. This is where the role of a Custom broker comes into play as an individual with the expertise necessary to help simplify this process while avoiding errors.

Who Is A Customs Broker?

A Custom Broker is a licensed expert who helps a business oversee all the aspects of importing and exporting goods during international trade transactions. 

differences between a customs broker and an agent

They have extensive knowledge of regulations, required documentation, taxes and clearance process as each country has its own regulations and customs organization. The main job of a Customs Broker is to ensure that shipments comply with legal and regulatory standards and oversee a smooth process preventing delays and cost hiccups, they simplify the trade of these goods across borders.

It’s worth mentioning that a Custom broker must not be confused with a freight forwarder; who only handles the transport of goods, but doesn’t deal with any of the requirements or processes involved in the entry of these goods at the point of customs.

What is a Custom Agent?

A Custom Agent or National Custom Agent is on the other side of the customs process, he’s the one in charge of supervising the passing of the goods across a border; making sure that everything is complying with all regulations and requirements, inspecting the needed documents, applicable tax and fees and preventing smuggling. 

In essence, a custom agent is the gatekeeper of international trade, this government employee is entrusted with the task of ensuring that goods entering or leaving a country comply with the established regulations and laws.

Differences between customs broker and customs agent

Although you’ll sometimes find Customs brokers being called customs agents across the industry related articles or media, the main difference and how to identify the subject being referred to lies mainly on who their role is serving to. 

A custom broker helps the buyer and seller during the import and export process, while the Custom Agent is working on behalf of the government as a law enforcement and keeping the international trades under check across the border. They work for their country’s specific customs organization, for example the U.S Customs and Border Patrol Protection (CBP).

Here’s some key difference between their responsibilities:

What does a customs broker do?

  • Oversee customs Compliance
  • Classification of goods for customs declarations
  • Clear goods through customs and to their destination
  • Tariff Calculation, Accurately determining the customs duties and taxes
  • The customs broker determines the applicable duties, taxes, and fees
  • Pay mentioned duties and fees
  • Documentation Management, preparing and submitting proper documentation
  • Representing the company and undertaking customs business on your behalf.

Custom Agent

  • Works at the various ports of entry for products entering a country from abroad
  • Checking documents and goods to detect illegal activities such as undocumented cargo or prohibited goods
  • Handles the paperwork to assure goods can be moved forward.
  • Assist with customs control
  • Prepare reports and witness statements

Why Do I Need A Broker For Customs?

If you are involved in international trade, hiring a Custom Broker will facilitate the whole transaction. A Custom broker will ensure your shipments are in line with customs regulations, present the right documentation, and oversee the clearance processes from start to finish.

Hiring a Custom broker vs. being your own broker, brings you the peace of mind of knowing that you won’t be at risk of facing errors during documentation and processes, encountering avoidable taxes and duties and having delays within your shipment timeframes.

Summarizing, hiring a Custom Broker for international trade offers numerous benefits, like:

Cost Savings

A Custom broker will help your businesses save money by ensuring the accurate payment of duties and taxes, identifying potential duty exemptions and reductions, and preventing fines and penalties due to non-compliance.

Compliance Assurance

With a Custom broker’s extensive knowledge of customs regulations will ensure that your business remains compliant.


A custom broker will streamline the customs clearance process, reducing the time and resources required to get your goods through customs.

Peace of Mind

Hiring a customs broker provides you and your businesses with peace of mind because you will know that all customs-related matters are being handled by a professional, while you focus on other operations and logistics.

Customized Consulting

A Custom broker can also offer customized consulting related, sources, and methods of transportation, for example, that will bring valuable insights and advice to help your business make informed decisions about importing goods.

At EP Logistics we are widely recognized not only for excelling in our custom broker services, that guarantee the appropriate and fastest clearance of your goods, in transit and streamlining the process for you; but also, in addition to customs brokerage and clearance, we provide customs consulting services.
We pride ourselves in standing out as reliable United States and Mexico custom brokers, helping out clients with all other complexities involved. Our main goal at EP Logistics is always to help your businesses reduce risks, and enhance your overall global trade practices. Feel free to contact us and let us assist you with your international trade transactions with confidence and efficiency. 

Gabriela Uribe

Gabriela Uribe

Gabriela Uribe serves as the cornerstone of the sales support team at EP Logistics, leveraging over a decade of seasoned expertise to deliver exceptional service.