Customs clearance delays aren’t just frustrating for your clients — they’re a pain point for your organization, too, and they can impact your bottom line. And now, with the many Brexit-related import and export changes, it can be even harder to keep track of regulations and customs paperwork requirements.
It begs the question: Should you try to handle customs processing in-house, or should you outsource to a business process outsourcing (BPO) partner that offers customs clearance services?
Handling everything in-house means your team members end up shouldering more of a burden and spending valuable time on correcting errors. Partnering with a trusted customs brokerage processing partner is a solution that will offer you deep industry knowledge that will reduce errors and customs clearance time, save you time and, most importantly, help you focus on strengthening client relationships.
Here’s how the right BPO partner can boost your bottom line and your reputation.
Reducing paperwork errors
Outsourcing your customs brokerage processing to an experienced BPO organization gives you access to specialized expertise and up-to-date industry knowledge that helps reduce errors and customs clearance time. In turn, this enables you to build trust with customers and saves you time and resources.
Common errors that can cause customs delays include:
- Incorrect HTS codes: These codes are notoriously tricky; entering just one number incorrectly can result in inaccurate payments.
- Incorrect duty estimates: Every country has its own tariffs, duties, and taxes, along with its own customs procedures, rules, and forms — which can and do change frequently — making staying on top of these fees and maintaining proper customs compliance labyrinthine.
- Incomplete paperwork: The consequences of incomplete, incorrectly filled, or improperly processed paperwork can be severe, including lost time, damage to your reputation, investigations into your shipments, and even penalties, like those for improper documentation for hazmat freight shipping.
When you partner with an experienced BPO, you can be confident these errors won’t occur — and therefore, won’t slow you down.
Facing Brexit challenges with confidence
Many companies are seeing an increase in delays and errors as a result of Brexit-related confusion. In fact, 67% of transport and logistics industry executives report post-Brexit delays from third-party suppliers/brokers, and 53% report an increase in goods held by customs.
Key Brexit-related complications include:
- New VAT rules: Some 145,000 businesses are now responsible for making import-export declarations for the first time, and many non-U.K. companies have to register for the first time with the U.K.’s tax authority, HM Revenue, and Customs (HMRC). And, as of July, the EU has implemented new VAT obligations for business-to-consumer (B2C) e-commerce sellers. These changes are being felt on the client-side, too: 34% of industry executives report a Brexit-related increase in negative customer feedback, and 17% report an increase in customer returns due to VAT changes.
- Strict regulations for certain goods: Particularly problematic for the shipment of perishable goods, customs delays related to post-Brexit regulations are causing a lot of grief for exporters. These delays lead to supply chain disruptions, spoiled shipments, upset customers, and more.
A BPO organization that offers customs brokerage processing services will monitor any regulatory changes, including post-Brexit developments, and make adjustments if necessary to reduce delays as much as possible. With the right BPO partner, you can be confident that your customs paperwork will be processed correctly, even as Brexit continues to cause disruptions.
What to look for in a customs brokerage processing partner
Your customs brokerage processing partner should feel like an extension of your team, have at least ten years of experience in the industry, and be able to provide referrals and testimonials.
Qualities to seek out include:
- Extensive experience with customs paperwork. An organization with a longstanding history in the industry knows the ins and outs of what you need to look out for, which means fewer instances of erroneous paperwork and fewer delays.
- Demonstrated success with Brexit-related challenges. Look for a company that can show you examples of real wins in dealing with the complications of Brexit; you want to ensure your BPO partner will make your organization more adaptable as regulations continue to evolve.
- Multilingual capabilities. Ensuring smooth communication can help in a host of ways, including finding and fixing errors prior to customs; applying the correct tariff codes; helping to avoid fees and penalties; communicating the necessary data, expectations, and regulatory information; resolving issues faster, and strengthening relationships.
- Strategic application of technology. Your BPO partner should have a wealth of knowledge regarding industry technology and know how to innovate wisely with your specific business needs in mind.
Getting shipments through customs quickly is crucial for you and your customers. Handling customs paperwork in-house — especially with all the post-Brexit requirements — can be a huge challenge. Outsource your customs brokerage processing to an experienced BPO partner to reduce errors and clear shipments faster while also reducing workload for your in-house team.