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Collaborating with border agencies: 4 ways to build credibility

Traditional perceptions of customs and border agencies evokes an Us vs. Them dynamic. Border agencies are seen as suspicious gatekeepers looking for problems.

And businesses live in fear or making errors, having goods seized at the border, or owing an untenable amount in penalties.

Add that to the sheer quantity of information and regulations there are to wade through, not to mention the constantly changing regulatory environment, and it’s easy to understand why dealing with border agencies can seem combative and nerve-wracking.

The border agency’s roleborderAgent_66683833_s (1)

To start off, understanding the role and function of border agencies makes them seem less intimidating.

The border agency’s job is threefold:

  1. revenue collection,
  2. security, and
  3. trade facilitation.

Agencies have to balance control and facilitation, while creating measures to promote business integrity. More and more, border agencies are adopting automated approaches to streamline the complex processes at the border.

So, while there is still a lot of information to wade through as a business owner, it’s helpful to know that the border agencies, too, are focused on partnership and collaboration.

Partnering with agencies

Agencies offer helpful guidance, encourage building trust with businesses over time, and provide partnership programs.

Here are four ways to collaborate and build credibility with border agencies:

1. Learn the basics

Both Canada and the U.S. offer entry-level information to start you off on the right foot with their border agencies.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) offers a step-by-step guide to importing commercial goods into Canada. And the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has a Tips For New Importers And Exporters page offering great guidance.

You’ll also need to know the specifics of the commodity or commodities you import or export. So it’s worth taking the time to become familiar with the regulations and the requirements for the goods you ship.

2. Work with a broker

Most border agencies encourage businesses to work with brokers and customs consultants.

Brokerages and consultancies are seen as partners and collaborators in ensuring compliance and efficiency at the border. Brokers often have long-term relationships with border agencies and work to ensure a positive relationship between their client and the agency.

3. Build a positive profile

Building trust with a border agency over time is a great way to reduce scrutiny and risk-based inspections on your shipments.

How do you build a positive profile?

  • Follow the regulations for your commodity.
  • Submit proper documentation and paperwork.
  • Keep great records.
  • Report and rectify errors promptly.

4. Consider trade partner programsFlags_28076258_s

In 2005, the World Customs Organization developed a framework to identify trusted entities known as Authorized Economic Operators (AEO).

Almost 80 countries have compiled lists of manufacturers, importers, exporters, brokers, carriers, consolidators, intermediaries, ports, airports, terminal operators, integrated operators, warehouses, and distributors certified to meet AEO standards.

In Canada, the AEO program is called Partners in Protection (PIP); in the United States it’s known as Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT); and Mexico’s program is called Operadores Económicos Autorizados (OEA).

Authorized Economic Operator programs create customs-to-business partnerships aimed at securing the supply chain and facilitating legitimate low-risk trade.

Authorized Economic Operators are examined at the border significantly less than regular cross-border traders.

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Information provided by: Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International