Customs Brokers Canada: Your Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Pro


You're an entrepreneur. You've got a great idea and are ready to get your business up and running in no time. But before you can sell your product or service, there's one small hurdle: getting your products into the hands of customers.

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Customs brokers are professionals who help businesses get their products into the country, ensuring that they meet all regulations and ensure the safety of consumers. Customs brokers take care of everything from filling out paperwork to ensuring that the goods are shipped at a fair freight quote for both parties involved (which means more profit for you). As long as your broker is knowledgeable about international trade law and practices, then they should be able to guide you through this process efficiently and cost-effectively.


Choosing a customs broker is one of the most important business decisions you can make. Custom brokers are your gateway to importing goods into Canada, so you must work with a reputable professional who understands your business needs.


This article will give you all the information you need to find an excellent Canadian customs broker for your company.


What is a Canadian Customs Broker?

A customs broker is a person or company that helps businesses import or export goods. The role of a customs broker is to help with the paperwork and other requirements to import or export goods. They assist in importing goods from other countries, such as China and Japan, as well as assisting in exporting goods to other countries such as from Canada to the US or Mexico.


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Customs brokers in Canada are required to be licensed through the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency). This means that they can control who becomes a customs broker. Doing so, it allows them to stop fly-by-night brokers from doing lousy business and costing your business valuable time and money.


These are the four key requirements the CBSA requires from you to become a customs broker Canada:

  • You must be a resident of Canada
  • You must be of good character
  • You need to have sufficient financial resources to conduct business in a responsible manner
  • You need to pass an exam before becoming licensed as a Canadian broker


You can become a customs broker in Canada who operates as a sole proprietorship, corporation, partnership or any combination thereof – but regardless of how you assemble your customs brokerage, it must be legally set up and registered.


Remember – any company that won’t get into their credentials with you is not one you should work with!


Why Choose a Professional Customs Broker Canada?

If you're shipping goods to Canada, then it's likely that you need a customs broker. A professional customs broker can guide you through each step of the process – from assessing which goods are eligible for duty-free entry into Canada to clearing them through Customs and Border Protection (CBSA).


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The key reasons to work with a professional customs broker Canada speak for themselves:

  • Help save your business time and labour
  • Avoid paying fines and fees
  • Ensure that your goods get there on time


This is especially important if your company already has a history with shipping to Canada, intends to expand into the market in Canada, or if there are any exceptional circumstances surrounding the shipment (prohibited items, for example). Professional Canadian customs brokers like Moto have experience navigating these tricky waters and will be able to make sure everything goes smoothly so that everything arrives as planned!


5 Steps to Choosing a Customs Broker

When it comes to choosing freight brokers in Canada, there are a lot of factors to consider. You must be sure that they are equipped with the right knowledge and experience to handle your shipment.


That means that it is time to do some homework!


The following are some of the steps you can take to ensure that you choose a reliable freight broker:

  • Do a bit of research about your potential partners
  • Make sure you know what you need
  • Ensure all operators are above-board and feel legitimate
  • Seek recommendations before agreeing to anything
  • Double-check that their customer service is high quality


Let’s get into the details on what you should do in each step to avoid headaches later.


1. Research Your Potential Customs Broker

To make a smart decision about which customs brokers in Canada to choose, you should have a good understanding of the things they can offer and how much it will cost.


The first step is to decide what services your business needs from a customs broker. This will help you avoid paying for services that don't benefit your business or paying too much for services that are unnecessary.


For example, if your company doesn't import goods frequently then it may not need as comprehensive of an audit as an e-commerce retailer would require.


Other services that are complementary to Canadian customs brokers' services include


After picking out the right package of services for your business, find out what fees they charge for those services and whether there are any additional costs involved (such as port charges).


The next step is researching their reputation within the industry – they should have no complaints against them with government agencies like CBSA or Competition Bureau Canada (CBO), but beware if they do!


2. Know What Services You’re Looking For

Before getting help from a customs broker, it’s important to know what you need for your business. To be successful, your customs broker should work with your team to develop a plan that will meet the needs of your business and its goals.


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For instance, if you're shipping products internationally and don’t have your own warehousing in the area, then you'll want a customs broker who has the experience to handle both Canadian customs brokerage services as well as container de-stuffing, cross-docking, and freight forwarding. This is different from those businesses that have locations on both sides of the border, have transportation figured out, and simply want efficient border clearance.


Also, keep in mind that cost matters – and it does now more than ever before! Given the current economic climate and rising costs on many fronts including shipping, it's crucial that your chosen customs brokerage firm meets or exceeds industry standards while offering competitive prices without sacrificing quality service or expertise.


The table below outlines some of the things and questions that you should consider when you hire a customs broker Canada.


Business Size and Experience
What to Consider

Beginner or Novice Importing and Exporting

  • Do you offer support to rookie commercial importers and exporters?
  • Since when has this Canada customs broker been in business?
  • Can you help us mitigate the risks of commercial importing and exporting?
  • What information do the customs broker in Canada require to assess the needs of my business?
  • What will they charge for their services? Will my account be handled by one person?
  • What are my options for contacting a live person around the clock?

More Experienced Importers and Exporters (those who send less than 1000 shipments per year)

  • How many years of experience does the customs broker have?
  • How will the broker share regulatory changes that impact the flow of my goods?
  • What are my options for contacting a live person around the clock?
  • Can you provide me with all the services I need to import or export my goods? Is it possible for you to handle my customs clearance into the United States as well? Do you have any affiliations with foreign customs brokers or carriers and 3PL providers?
  • Can you tell me if you are a member of the Canadian Society of Customs Brokers? Can you tell me how many Certified Customs Specialists and Certified Trade Compliance Specialists you have on staff? Is one of these individuals going to handle my shipments?

Advanced Importing and Exporters (A volume of more than 1000 shipments per year or an import value of more than $1 million per year)

  • Is there a particular area of expertise at your firm? What methods do you use to provide this information to prospective clients?
  • Would you be able to provide references from clients with similar imports to mine?
  • Does your business have experience with, and current knowledge of, the goods we will be importing? Would you please tell me what you need from me to begin creating my database records?
  • How do you inform your clients of regulatory changes that affect their goods?
  • Can we develop a compliance plan to clarify our responsibilities and minimize our exposure to administrative monetary penalties? In addition, how will we ensure CBSA receives electronic pre-arrival cargo information that will allow it to comply with eManifest requirements, including advance importer data?

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3. Is Your Potential Customs Broker Operating Legally?

If you're considering hiring a customs broker, one thing to keep in mind is that they should be able to provide proof of being legally able to operate as a customs broker. This means they must have the proper credentials and qualifications – and be willing to show them.


You should also look for information about their reputation online. If you come across any references or testimonials from past clients, make sure they're legitimate ones (and not just friends of the broker). You can do this by asking them for some contact details so that you can verify their status yourself if necessary – or even better: get in touch with those references directly!


4. Seek Out Recommendations For The Customs Broker

Almost 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business. Make sure you’re one of those people when choosing a customs broker in Canada.


One of the best ways to choose a customs broker is by asking around. Talk to other businesses working with a customs broker and see what they have to say about their experience. You can also read reviews online, but be careful because many reviews are written by people who don’t know what they’re talking about.


do i need a customs broker to ship to canada


If you want good evidence-based information, check out the individual Canada customs brokers' website and look for things like:

  • A history of being in business for more than a few months or years (not just starting up)
  • Accurate information on what services are included in each package price (there shouldn't be any surprises)
  • Good customer service from experienced professionals


If any of these, or other things, seems amiss and unavailable, then reconsider your customs broker Canada choice.


5. Evaluate The Level of Customer Service You Receive

You’re going to be working with your customs broker daily, so it’s vital that you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities. Who wants to deal with a company that doesn’t listen? We sure don’t!


That being said, we all know that customer service is the most crucial aspect when choosing a customs broker. You want someone who will be there for you in any situation. In this industry, it's easy for companies and individuals alike to get overwhelmed by their workloads.


But at Moto, we take pride in providing outstanding customer service with every step – no matter what! Plus, we have a 98% on-time performance and keep our shipments damage free 99.9% of the time. And if there is an issue, we have an entire team ready and willing to jump into action ASAP so that everyone comes out happy at the end of the day.


Check out the table below for a guide to evaluating customer service at Canadian customs brokers.


Customer Service Factor
Why it Matters


If they can’t take the time to respond to you promptly, how will they handle real emergencies? Probably not well. Make sure they efficiently handle your concerns during your investigation.


Did you ask for a quote 3 weeks ago and keep getting the gears in return? If the customs broker in Canada is slow and keeps making excuses, then it’s time to move on.


No one wants to deal with a business that has unprofessional or discourteous employees. Make sure when you are speaking with their agents, it is a positive experience.

Follow Through-Ability

Asking questions means you want answers. So if you don’t get follow-through on requests or questions, look elsewhere.



We’re all about giving you the information you need to make the call on your customs broker Canada choices – and feel good about it, too.


Below, we will answer some common questions about customs brokers and using their services.


What Is the Difference Between a Customs Broker and a Freight Forwarding Company?

Here’s the critical difference between a freight forwarder and a customs broker Canada:

  • A customs broker is a professional who specializes in helping international traders move their goods across borders. A customs broker's services include helping you file paperwork and pay fees, obtaining permits and licenses, and ensuring that your goods are shipped safely and arrive on time.
  • A freight forwarder, on the other hand, provides logistics services for international shipments. They help coordinate the entire shipping process from start to finish, including finding suitable carriers, arranging for packing and documentation, clearing your goods through customs and arranging for delivery once they arrive.


Why Should You Choose A Customs Broker From Canada?

Customs brokers are needed by importers and exporters to help them with the import/export process. These professionals have experience with all customs procedures and regulations, so they know how to handle your goods when they arrive at their destination. They also know what paperwork needs to be filed so that you can avoid any unnecessary delays or penalties. They know the ins and outs of working with border services agencies like the CBSA in Canada.


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Some companies need customs brokers for every shipment, while others only use them for special occasions or when there is a problem with a shipment. If you are importing or exporting goods regularly, you must work with customs brokers in Canada that can make sure that each shipment gets handled quickly and efficiently.



Choosing a Canadian customs broker is vital for your business, so don’t rush into it and do your research. You may want to talk with other companies who have experience working with specific customs brokers or ask for recommendations.


And when you’re ready – give the Moto team a call, and we’ll help you get started with our customs brokerage services in Canada. You can give us a call, or reach out by email, and we will be happy to make ship happen for your business.