What does a customs broker actually do?

ALS – your international customs agency

What happens when goods are delivered across a border to another country? Who controls the goods? What fees are charged for them, and what rules apply – those of the country to which the goods are imported or those from which they are exported? And what role do customs brokers play in these complex processes?

Customs regulations and trade agreements are now more important than ever for the economy in Europe and worldwide. This applies not only to the post-Brexit era but also to the ongoing demands of international trade. Companies involved in international trade ship goods daily, often passing through multiple countries. To comply with the law, they must meticulously document each step of the process.

To ease the burden on these companies, customs agencies and their agents handle a wide range of tasks. At ALS, we offer numerous advantages to support your business. These include our AEO certification, which demonstrates our commitment to compliance, our extensive experience of over 30 years in customs clearance, our widespread network of locations, and our specialized knowledge in handling complex customs procedures.

To give you an overview of the benefits, let's explore the services provided by customs brokers and how they can positively impact your company.

What are the responsibilities of a customs agency?

A customs agency primarily assists import and export companies in moving goods across international borders. Their main tasks involve ensuring that all necessary documents and licenses are obtained for the goods and that the correct taxes, fees, and customs duties are paid. By handling these requirements efficiently, customs brokers help prevent delays in the transportation process.

To effectively carry out their duties, customs agents require extensive expertise. They must accurately classify goods using the appropriate product number, which is an internationally recognised standard that enables electronic identification and serves as the basis for generating customs documents. Additionally, certain goods may necessitate an import license due to their nature, such as hazardous materials or restricted items. In such cases, experienced customs brokers possess the knowledge and understanding to navigate the requirements and provide the necessary documentation.

Customs brokers who are professionally registered with customs authorities have the advantage of enhanced communication and a streamlined process. This registration ensures their access to up-to-date customs regulations and trade agreements. It also enables them to effectively collaborate with relevant agencies and authorities on behalf of the import and export companies they serve.

A customs agency can provide valuable assistance by managing various associated tasks. Here are some examples:

  • Assisting with accurate payment of import duties and VAT for goods.
  • Timely preparation and submission of all necessary customs clearance documents.
  • Verifying the classification and valuation of your goods, including the correct use of product numbers.
  • Acting as a direct liaison with government agencies and customs authorities on your behalf.
  • Offering personalised guidance on licensing requirements for importing restricted or hazardous goods.

The ALS Group

Complete customs clearance services on a global scale

ALS offers comprehensive solutions for all aspects of customs clearance. Whether it's managing import and export procedures, navigating intricate transit arrangements, or providing effective fiscal representation, ALS has got you covered. As your trusted customs agency, we uphold the principles of trust, expertise, integrity, and continuity in all our endeavours. Our dedicated team is committed to delivering top-notch service of the utmost quality to our valued clients.

Furthermore, our cutting-edge automation solutions contribute to seamless customs clearance, saving you time and minimising the potential for delays or mistakes.

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What type of agencies are available?

There are different types of agencies involved in international trade, namely customs agencies and customs brokers. These entities possess specialised knowledge in the field of international trade and are well-versed in the regulations that govern the movement of goods across borders. While some freight forwarders may also provide customs clearance services, their primary expertise lies in logistics. On the other hand, customs agencies are dedicated service providers that focus specifically on all aspects of customs clearance. Their goal is to simplify the import and export processes for companies by handling all the necessary intricacies.

By partnering with a customs agency, businesses can ensure prompt and efficient customs clearance for their goods. Customs agencies have the expertise required to manage various customs-related tasks, such as document preparation, import and export clearance, and effective communication with customs authorities. As a result, they offer valuable assistance to companies engaged in international trade.

What are the advantages of customs brokers for me?

Engaging the services of a customs broker offers you an all-inclusive solution for your customs-related matters. Instead of dealing with multiple contacts from various companies and authorities, you can rely on a dedicated representative from the customs agency. This simplifies the process and reduces the effort required on your part, providing a clearer overview of the entire operation. By entrusting your customs affairs to a customs broker, you can navigate the complex customs clearance procedures with ease and gain peace of mind.

Non-compliant customs clearance poses numerous risks to your business. However, by utilising the expertise of a customs broker, you mitigate these risks. They ensure that all necessary documents are complete and accurate, eliminating potential delays at customs that could result in additional costs. Moreover, a customs broker saves you valuable time by ensuring that your products can swiftly contribute to your business without unnecessary delays.



Comprehensive Solution:

By hiring a customs broker, you gain access to a comprehensive solution that saves you time and effort.

Expert Advice:

Customs brokers offer invaluable expertise, ensuring compliance and saving time.

Efficient Communication:

With a customs broker, you have a single point of contact, providing a clearer overview of the process.

Enhanced Security:

A customs broker ensures the accuracy of documents, offering greater security for your operations.

Are there any considerations or potential disadvantages to be aware of?

Certainly, there are aspects to consider when collaborating with a customs agency. It is essential to thoroughly assess the international standing of the customs broker, ensuring they have extensive connections, multiple locations, and a capable team to handle your orders efficiently. Moreover, entrusting the customs clearance of your goods transported to another party means relinquishing control. Therefore, it is advisable to conduct a thorough evaluation of the customs agency's references and the transparency of their services. Establishing mutual trust is crucial when working with a customs agency, as it serves as the foundation for a successful partnership.


What are the costs associated with hiring a customs broker?

Typically, when engaging the services of a customs broker, you can request a cost estimate for the specific customs clearance services required. The costs comprise various elements, which should be itemised in detail by the customs agency. This enables you to compare offers from different agencies effectively. It is important to note that costs can vary significantly due to the diverse nature of goods transportation and the varying customs regulations and fees across different countries. A reputable customs agency will always provide transparent information about the services they offer and their associated costs.


How can I find the right customs broker for my needs?

Selecting the appropriate customs broker is crucial for ensuring smooth customs clearance of your goods. It is important to thoroughly assess the services provided by each customs agency and ensure they align with your company's specific requirements. Key factors to consider when choosing a customs agency include:

  • The number of international locations they have
  • Their area of expertise
  • Their references
  • Their overall experience

The chosen customs agency should be capable of providing reliable and expert support for your specific transportation route.



What services does ALS offer as a full-service customs broker?

ALS goes beyond offering standard services by leveraging our expertise in national regulations across various countries to provide customised solutions for your specific needs. Our emphasis is on delivering top-quality and efficient services while ensuring compliance with legal requirements. Our comprehensive range of services encompasses all essential aspects of customs clearance, and we tailor them to your unique requirements.


  • Customs clearance solutions:
Standard customs clearance
Special customs procedures
Temporary storage / customs warehousing


  • Customs consulting:
International trade compliance
Guidance and training


  • Automation:
Customs Control Tower (CCT)

The benefits of choosing ALS

Your journey begins here

ALS is an innovative, neutral, and globally active customs broker. We operate as a unified entity, where every member of our team, from your dedicated contacts to our board of directors, is committed to meeting your specific needs. Through constant communication and strategic development, we continuously optimise our services. Our team embodies the ALS values of trust, expertise, integrity, and continuity.


We offer you:

  • Comprehensive customs solutions from start to finish
  • Reliable expertise backed by years of experience
  • Personalised support for complex requirements
  • A network of local specialists across international locations
  • Enhanced efficiency through advanced technology


By choosing ALS, you gain a competitive edge in international trade, benefiting from our expertise, network, technology, and unwavering commitment to your success.

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At ALS, your customs path starts hereAt ALS, your customs path starts here
At ALS, your customs path starts hereAt ALS, your customs path starts here