Companies usually hire customs brokers and freight forwarders to manage the actual process of importing goods. This is because the requirements of the process involve complex logistical considerations, management of documentation and specialized expertise needed to handle customs, carriers and international suppliers. Customs brokers have usually acted as intermediaries between customs and the importing company. This is to facilitate remittance and filing and for guiding the company appropriately to avoid any possible penalties. Historically, companies have always entrusted full-time Customs Brokerage firms with handling customs processes and compliance with trade regulations. Now with recent technological innovations, managing the requirements of customs has become easier and is now something that companies can handle without depending on Customs brokers to the extent that was considered conventional.
Reasons why Customs Management was considered difficult
Customs management was considered to be impossible for companies to handle on their own for a number of reasons.
- Firstly, the complexity of the filing process and the regulations involved were significant deterrents, which also led to the belief that it is necessary for a Customs Broker to handle the whole process.
- Secondly, most importers believe that they do not possess the expertise to manage compliance, customs filing and the classifications of the goods that they import. Maintaining product classifications accordingly to relevant tariffs and managing compliance is almost impossible for a company without the expertise of a customs broker.
- Thirdly, there has been a massive increase in the number and complexity of regulatory requirements, which range from product safety to national security, which makes the task of customs management even more daunting.
- Fourthly, technological solutions for facilitating the interaction with customs had not existed. As a result, there were no information systems that could maintain and easily provide regulatory information from several regulatory bodies pertaining to different products, supplier countries. This makes the task of executing a customs filing extremely difficult.
Customs Management has now become far more accessible for companies. This is because of the development of specialized customs management software designed specifically for importers. These software programs completely streamline the process that filing a customs entry requires. They facilitate the importer in:
- Managing their accounts and products
- Preparing a full entry (ISF,7501/3461,OGA) for an audit prior to entry
- Submitting the entry via electronic means either directly to customs or the broker
- Updating the entry in customs
Benefits of Customs Management software
Centralized Parts and Account control
Customs Management software allow for importers to take the data for their accounts from ERP systems and place it in the context of compliance and customs requirements.
EDI and XML message capabilities
Customs Management software allows importers to directly interact with their carriers and suppliers through XML and EDI messages. This allows them to acquire data which is used in the creation of a customs import file.
Reduced Errors/Increased Compliance
Customs Management software allow importers to prepare a sheet that contains all ISF, 3461/7501, and OGA entries for auditing prior to transmitting to Customs.