5 Steps to a Resilient Customs Brokerage and Trade Compliance Program

Creating your customs brokerage and trade compliance program is only the beginning. As a global shipper, managing your program is just as important, and that means setting up a regular cadence to review and update your processes.

If it’s been a while since updates were made to your customs and compliance program, now may be the best time to revisit key customs and compliance strategies, to ensure all policies are still accurate and compliant. In this blog post, you’ll learn five proactive steps you can take today to get on the path to a more resilient program.

Building your robust global shipping framework

All customs and compliance programs should undergo regular maintenance and review. These five topics are a great starting point to creating a strong, resilient customs and trade compliance program that minimizes unnecessary risk.

1. Review and revise customs broker instructions

Ensure all instructions to your customs brokers are clear, concise, and up to date. This way, your customs brokers can better understand the compliance requirements specific to your organization. Not sure where to start? Start with these important topics:

  • Related party verification instructions
  • Your Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) classification database
  • Application and eligibility of free trade agreements (FTAs) for your products

2. Request updated certificates of origin

Get updated annual blanket certificates of origin (COO) from your foreign suppliers for any program you plan to claim preference. Doing this annually is a great way to keep everything current. Delays in obtaining your COOs may impact your potential duty savings.

3. Update FTA instructions

Internally, conduct qualifications for products your company certifies as eligible for FTAs. This should include soliciting underlying documentation from relevant suppliers. Going back to the first point above, any changes you make regarding FTAs should be clearly communicated back to your customs brokers.

4. Perform internal and external training

Maintain a regular training session schedule with key company stakeholders—both internal and external. These can be hosted internally or you can attend external training sessions hosted by C.H. Robinson, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), or other members of the trade community. Many organizations offer both in-person and virtual events for maximum flexibility. This keeps all parties, especially new employees, up to date with changes.

5. Keep apprised of CBP’s focus areas

Monitor the areas CBP deems high-risk—areas that can cause significant revenue loss, harm the U.S. economy, or threaten the health and safety of the American people. One of the most notable areas recently is the significant expansion of forced labor prevention laws. Without keeping apprised of changes, it can be challenging to participate in global trade while remaining compliant. Review our forced labor guide to better understand your responsibilities regarding this particular focus area.

Stay ahead of compliance challenges

Once you’ve completed the five steps above, there are more in-depth steps you can take. The following resources can help. 

  • Review and complete our 20-point customs and compliance checklist
    This guide builds on the steps above, offering a more comprehensive list of additional focus areas that will act as your roadmap when preparing your organization for changing regulations.
  • Verify you aren’t making these 9 common customs mistakes
    Taking a proactive approach to address these common mistakes will not only minimize the risk of an unsuccessful customs audit but also contribute to a smoother and more compliant trade process.
  • Understand the basics of trade compliance: Importing and Exporting 101
    This high-level guide equips you with valuable insights about the need for a robust compliance strategy to safeguard your business and foster successful global trade relationships.
  • Work with C.H. Robinson trade policy experts
    Our trade policy team offers the experience you need regarding the numerous complex topics surrounding compliance and customs regulations. We can help you navigate complicated customs clearance requirements, prepare for an audit, and more.

Stay informed

Developments in customs and trade continue to evolve—stay informed to be prepared:

Anahi Czeszewski
Product Development Manager
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