Actionable Tips To Ensure Import Brokerage Compliance

International shipments are subject to import duties. Business owners understand this fact before joining the bandwagon, but they can still fall short of compliance because of the complexity of rules. According to statistics, the total global trade of the US touched a staggering $1.43 trillion in 2020, making it the third largest global merchandise exporter. The import numbers are equally impressive. However, compliance-related issues are a major hindrance.

For companies involved in international commerce, ensuring import brokerage compliance is crucial to preventing legal problems, financial penalties, and supply chain disruptions. Respecting tariff obligations, other trade laws, and customs regulations is referred to as compliance. However, many business owners end up going wrong in this context, facing hefty losses due to simple blunders. However, staying on top of compliance is easier than you imagine, provided you follow a few actionable tips.

Ensure Import Brokerage Compliance

Here are a few proven practical suggestions to guarantee compliance with import brokerage.

  • Stay informed about regulations

Brokerage regulations are inherently complicated for beginners, and even seasoned international traders struggle with them. The reason is that they continuously change, and it is hard to keep pace with them. Every time you fail to pay attention to these updates, you may find yourself facing a penalty with a consignment. 

The best piece of advice is to stay up to date on any changes to trade agreements, tariff schedules, or import rules that might have an impact on your imports. To stay informed, follow trade associations, industry journals, and customs agencies on a regular basis.

  • Classify products correctly

Another area where compliance can go wrong is product classification. With different codes allocated to products crossing borders, keeping track of numbers is easier said than done. Moreover, missing out on the smallest details can cause problems. Due diligence can be a savior in this context.

Make sure your imported goods are appropriately categorized using the Harmonized System (HS) codes. Determining the relevant obligations, taxes, and regulatory requirements requires accurate classification from the outset. To guarantee accurate classification, utilize internet resources like the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Harmonised Tariff Schedule. There’s hardly a chance of struggling or making an error. 

  • Maintain accurate documentation

Import brokerage compliance is also about complete and correct documentation. Remember that documents are more than a bundle of papers. They ensure that your consignment aligns with the rules, and keep it safe from fines and delays. 

Keep up-to-date and comprehensive import records, such as packing lists, commercial invoices, and certificates of origin. Also, ensure that the paperwork accurately describes the imported items, their value, quantity, and origin, and complies with customs standards. Any inconsistencies or mistakes could result in problems, which is the last thing you want to face.

  • Partner with experienced brokers

You may be an expert importer with a good track record in the industry. However, you may fall short of compliance due to a lack of awareness of regulatory changes or simple oversights during the import process. Moreover, the excess load of documentation and compliance requirements can take the focus away from your core business. 

Collaborate with seasoned freight forwarders or customs brokers who are knowledgeable about import compliance. The leading import brokerage services by Livingston International are an instance of how professional expertise can help. Select brokers that have a track record of accuracy, dependability, and familiarity with pertinent laws. Work closely with your broker to guarantee smooth communication and adherence to regulations during the import procedure.

  • Implement compliance controls

Non-compliance may happen at any point during the import process. In fact, the smallest mistake by your internal staff could lead to a delay, penalty, or seizure of your consignment. You must have a defense mechanism in place to prevent such issues. 

Create internal policies and processes to guarantee adherence to import laws. Assign specific team members duties to manage import procedures, such as record-keeping, compliance audits, and customs clearance. Perform routine internal audits to find and fix possible compliance problems.

  • Perform compliance audits

While having compliance controls within your business gives you a head start, you cannot take a set-and-forget approach to them. Mistakes may happen due to someone’s negligence, inefficiency, or knowledge gaps. Regular compliance audits can help you identify and address these issues. 

Audit your import procedures regularly to make sure internal policies and customs laws are being followed. Examine record-keeping procedures, duty computations, correctness of classification, and import documents. Determine any non-compliance locations and take quick corrective action.


Compliance with import brokerage regulations is perhaps one of the most daunting challenges for importers. Businesses can improve import brokerage compliance, reduce risks, and maintain efficient import operations while adhering to applicable trade laws and regulations by implementing these practical ideas.

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Dyka Smith
Dyka Smith is a content marketing professional at Inosocial, an inbound marketing and sales platform that helps companies attract visitors, convert leads, and close customers. Previously, Dyka worked as a marketing manager for a tech software startup. She graduated with honors from Columbia University with a dual degree in Business Administration and Creative Writing.

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