When it comes to purchasing and importing goods across international borders, one of the most important processes is customs clearance. While customs clearance might seem straightforward from the outside, it involves complex regulations, policies and requirements that must be followed.  

Many importers trust customs brokers to process their customs clearances as this is what customs brokers do daily; there is no point in re-inventing the wheel. Choosing the right customs clearance provider can be challenging; that is why in this guide, we will explore the essential factors to consider when assessing and choosing a customs clearance provider so that you can make an informed decision that aligns with your business needs.


Understanding the Role of Customs Clearance

Customs clearance is the process of having the paperwork for the goods you purchased presented to the NZCS and assessed for tax before release. The customs clearance process can vary from country to country and is complex and ever-changing. Therefore, choosing the right customs clearance provider who can assist you in navigating the border release process is essential.

When choosing a customs clearance broker, you should consider the customs broker’s experience, reliability, reputation and tenure. Look for a company that has been operating for many years and has a strong track record of being compliant and successful. 


Researching Potential Customs Clearance Brokerages

Once you have compiled a list of potential customs clearance brokerages, it’s time to research each provider. Look for companies that operate in your area and have an established reputation within the industry. Check the service provider’s credibility by researching their online presence, website and social media channels.

Pay attention to customer feedback and reviews, as these can provide valuable insights into the company’s quality of service. See if the customs brokerage has a customer service team that you can speak to easily. A reliable customs clearance brokerage should be responsive and helpful when answering your queries.


Outlining The Cost Structure and Being Price Transparent

Cost is one of the most important considerations when choosing a customs clearance brokerage. You will want to be working with a brokerage that provides you with transparent and clear costing. Look for a company that outlines the anticipated costs of your customs clearance and any additional fees that may apply.

Common customs clearance fees will include airline terminal or port charges, customs clearance, import duty and/or import GST. You should also consider additional charges such as storage costs, inspection fees and or detention [rent] on the shipping container. A good customs clearance brokerage should be able to clearly explain all of the fees involved so that you can make an informed decision.


Factors such as Compliance, Regulations and Insurance

To ensure that your customs clearance is processed smoothly and hassle-free, choose a customs brokerage that complies with all NZCS customs regulations. Look for a company that employs knowledgeable and experienced staff who understand the ever-changing requirements and regulations of importing goods from different countries. At the moment, New Zealand has Free Trade Agreements [FTAs] with a number of countries; make sure that you are taking advantage of FTAs and not paying import duty unnecessarily.

Before your goods depart from overseas, you should make certain with your overseas supplier that they have been insured for the journey to New Zealand; if not, reach out to your customs broker and ask them who you could insure the goods with before the journey commences. 


Tips for Choosing the Right Customs Brokerage

When choosing a customs clearance brokerage, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, but you should attempt to find a customs brokerage that meets your specific needs. Some key considerations to keep in mind when making your decision include:

  • Determine what type of goods you are importing and if the provider has experience in customs clearing those goods
  • Research the customs clearance process by contacting the New Zealand Customs Service [NZCS]
  • Consider the customs brokerages’ location and whether they have customs agents who can ensure a smooth import process
  • Consider the customs brokerages’ level of customer service, including their responsiveness and communication



Choosing the right customs clearance brokerage is essential for importers who must navigate the complex world of importing and customs clearance easily. By taking the time to research and evaluate potential customs brokerages, you will connect with a reliable customs brokerage that will provide you with the support needed to keep your importing business running smoothly. 

When searching for customs brokerages, consider factors such as their experience, credibility, pricing transparency and compliance with regulations. Finding a customs brokerage to meet your specific needs and expectations is key.