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How International Customs Brokers Can Overcome Language Barriers

Instead of allowing language barriers to halt expansion into other countries, transportation companies and third-party international customs brokers are overcoming language limitations and overpowering unnecessary blockers to ensure international shipping success.

Here are  three  ways  international customs brokers are embracing multilingual proficiencies in global deliveries: 

1. Data precision that guarantees better accuracy 

Every new country that a freight forwarder ships to  creates new tariffs and taxes with different forms, regulations, and language obstructions. If a company is lax on complying with these guidelines, fees and penalties are all but guaranteed.  

There is a mass of required paperwork when shipping across borders and if the information on the documentation is interpreted incorrectly (this includes at the point of origin and at customs) cargo is likely to face  significant delays in getting to their intended destination. 

It’s important to note that after Brexit, the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union, the UK’s tax authority has estimated that firms will need to file 400 million extra customs declarations annually. This paperwork surplus is putting added pressure on international forwarders.

Making an  inaccurate determination about tariff codes in another country is not uncommon and often understandable, so enhanced language proficiencies help: 

  • Find and fix errors prior to customs 

  • Apply the correct tariff codes 

  • Help avoid fees, penalties, and shipping delays 

2. Detailed & definite verbal exchanges 

In any industry, picking up the phone is a much more effective medium when trying to communicate directions or provide a multifaceted explanation. This is especially true when in the business of transporting goods internationally - proper verbal exchanges are invaluable. 

When a team member speaks the same language as the customs official or shipper, they’re able to openly and adequately communicate the necessary data, expectations, and regulatory information. For example, a multilingual customs agent can effectively converse with the shipper to track down a missing invoice and are equally as capable to connect with customs officials to ensure the proper protocols for an inspection process are adhered to. This not only has the potential to save money (on fees and penalties) but also significant  time.  

In addition, regulated products vary from country to country and aren’t always obvious. Some countries have specific products that are flagged and subject to additional import duties and charges, so having multilingual capabilities leads to fewer misunderstandings and easier translations.   

3. Stronger relationships &  quicker resolution 

Relationships are fostered through open and consistent communication, and a solid foundation helps customs brokers implement a quicker resolution when complications arise.

Enhanced language capabilities help boost customer experience by allowing individual team members to serve as a liaison between departments and vendors while maintaining ownership of situations through problem inception through resolution.  

Many brokers consider outsourcing to help boost their multilingual proficiencies and increase client satisfaction and retention rates. A BPO also helps them: 

  • Prepare electronic customs declarations with duty and tax calculations 

  • Maneuver through the inspection process (examples: medical equipment, items with chemical elements, weapons, etc.) 

  • Track down missing invoices and/or missing invoice data (such as a tax ID number) 

  • Assist with special instructions and obtain authorization (if products in transit exceed a certain amount and require a POA) 

  • Gain access to expertise in tariff classifications, valuation, and respective customs legislations 

Looking to upgrade your language capabilities? Our 7,000 experts support client operations with diverse multilingual aptitudes. Our growing list of languages includes, but are not limited to:

Albanian Czech German Polish Slovenian
Arabic Danish Greek Portuguese Spanish
Bosnian Dutch Italian Romanian Swedish
Bulgarian English Macedonian Russian Turkish
Croatian French Norwegian Serbian Ukrainian

We communicate to your customers via phone, e-mail, text, and/or chat on behalf of your brand, and work around the clock to offer the internal and external assistance needed to ensure shipments are facilitated quickly and cost-effectively. Our enhanced multilingual proficiencies allow us to specialize in origin data capture, import/export rating, and invoice matching ensuring your deliveries and your livelihood are in trusted hands.

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DDC FPO is a trusted strategic partner for transportation and logistics companies worldwide. Let us help you break unnecessary global barriers - our team is ready to help! 


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