How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License (23tips)

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License : An import export agent is a middleman or intermediary between a product’s manufacturer and re sellers or even consumers in the international market scene.

He bridges the gap between these two parties and effectively makes smooth business transactions between countries.

Most of them work on commission basis, bringing the two interested parties together and facilitating their transaction.

The import/export brokers are those people who are the ones who check whether your requirements for import or export products are complied properly so that you won’t have any problem with the federal customs.

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How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

International trade gets regulated with a variety of trade laws and tariffs.

These are set by countries as a way to control the movement of goods across borders.

Due to the complexity of international trade, many companies choose to outsource things.

They use the services of external customs clearance experts called import export agent or brokers.

To do this job, brokers must be familiar with the intricacies of the  brokerage process.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License


As clearance specialists,  import/export brokers manage and oversee the import of goods on behalf of their clients. We call this process “customs brokerage“.

Brokers can be private individuals or business entities.

Such as partnerships, associations or corporations.

To provide brokerage services, they need a license from relevant state bodies.

Every country defines its own set of regulations governing export/import of goods.

Due to the dynamic nature of international trade, these rules are subject to frequent changes.

Many brokers specialize in clearance of specific categories of goods, like perishable goods, clothes or large shipments.

Most brokers reside in major nodal points of traffic, such as international airports and ports.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

 Import/ Export Broker's License Tips

Here are some ideas on being an import/export broker.

1. Eligibility

To become an import or export broker.

You have to be eligible to the job.

Before you can even call or consider yourself a broker.

You have to qualify the licensing procedures.

You have to undergo some interviews and exams to qualify for this license.

It is a very essential type of job that is why you should be a licensed broker before you can even start doing the job.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

Since it is an import or export brokerage.

It is important that you are licensed.

So that the clients are sure that you really know what you are doing.

And you know the risks of the job.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

2. Be a citizen of the country:

Another thing is that you should be a citizen of the country.

Where you are going to work as a broker.

At least 21 years of age and must pass all the background checks that will be made during the licensing procedure.

Specifically, you must pass the criminal background check.

This way, the clients are sure that they are not in for trouble.

You must be someone who is not an ex convict.

Someone who has criminal charges pending in court.

And your background should be as clean as a white linen sheet.

3. Preparatory Course

Of course when you intend to pass the different examinations that will be given during the licensing procedure.

You must at least take the customs broker preparatory course.

In this course, you will be well educated about the job.

And you will be trained on how to be a good broker without getting you and the client into any legal trouble.

Before the import/export broker’s license exam.

You must first pass first the customs broker exam.

The government is really strict about these examinations.

Because brokerage is not just an ordinary job.

You are going to deal with big batch of products that will come in or out of the country.

Any failure or mistake in this will cost the country so much for the possible damage it would cause.

That is why, license is really necessary to be a customs broker.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

4. Get that License

To pass the licensure exams, you must at least get an average of 75% on the overall examination.

This is easy if you have taken the preparatory course seriously.

And you have studied the different important points on that course.

Sometimes people would flank in a particular exam because during their preparatory courses.

They did not took it seriously and they have taken it for granted.

You must also bear in mind that these examinations are usually held twice in a year.

This is sometime in April and October.

You must take note of these so that you won’t be able to forget it and you will have the chance to prepare for it.

5. Carry out research work:

Research the types of goods that you would like to import or export.

You need to do this so you can determine the license requirements for the specified goods.

For example, goods that fall under the categories of food, livestock, firearms, alcohol, tobacco and copyrighted material like DVDs or CDs require special licensing.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

6.Get surety bonds:

Secure a surety bond for importing goods that are high in value.

The federal government suggests that companies or individuals importing and exporting valuable goods should acquire a surety bond for goods with a dollar value exceeding $2,000.

7. Get a space for the business:

Apply for import/export broker and agent job positions or you can start your own agency or brokerage firm.

If you are starting your own business, secure office space and acquire an initial operating fund.

Visit the Small Business Administration’s micro-loan program website to seek appropriate micro-lenders for funding.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

8. Go digital

Times are changing and so are the ways we do business.

Most manual procedures are being replaced by online programs.

Digital technology makes it easier to submit documents, track the movement of goods, manage customs paperwork and stay current on latest trends.

9. Be diligent

To ensure a problem-free import, brokers must always do their homework.

They have to obtain detailed information about the shipment.

Review all applicable regulations, ensure proper classification and labeling and observe submission deadlines.

This particularly applies to new commodities, since it allows sufficient time to address any issues or concerns.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

10. Determine the type of import

It’s important to check if the goods come with any special requirements or restrictions.

For instance, alcohol, weapons, certain pharmaceuticals, animal products and chemicals need specific import licenses.

Most countries prohibit things like toxic substances, cultural heritage goods and illegal products made from endangered species.

11. Make sure documentation is complete

To avoid fines, delays, and damages to the cargo, the customs paperwork must be complete, accurate and submitted on time.

The paperwork should include a detailed description of the goods, certificate of origin, packing list, bill of lading, SKU number and verified tariff classification number.

Special permits for goods subject to other government regulations must also be obtained.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

12.  Find ways to reduce import costs

Brokers should always check for ways to reduce import costs.

For instance, certain goods qualify for preferential access, granted under so- called PTAs (preferential trade agreements).

In this case, the import tariffs get reduced, but not completely eliminated.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

13. Correct errors

To ensure compliance, brokers need to identify any errors in the original entries.

Then they should submit them to Customs, corrected and within specified time frames.

Things to check include origin, the number of items i.e. surpluses and shortages, value and tariffs.

14. Maintain detailed records

Companies must keep detailed records of all shipments, from procurement to payment for 7 years.

And this includes invoices, shipping records, proof of origin, markings, value adjustments etc.

Brokers can do this on behalf of the client, following a written authorization by the relevant government body.

See also: How To Start Bitter Kola Export Business In Nigeria

15. Choose a specialty

Selecting a specialty field allows brokers to gain in-depth knowledge about a certain area of import.

As a result, this gives them a competitive advantage.

Brokers specializing in clearance of certain categories of goods, shipment sizes, locations or transportation modes are in high demand.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

16. Ensure a smooth broker-client relationship

To avoid disputes, broker’s responsibilities and terms & conditions must be clearly outlined.

Doing this gives a clear definition of the scope of services.

For instance, whether the regular brokerage fees cover consultancy services or if they are charged additionally.

Read also: 110 Hot-Selling Products for Export Business in Nigeria

17. Stay current

International trade is a highly dynamic field.

To avoid accidental non-compliance, brokers must keep up to date.

Most of all it includes following international trade news, regulatory changes, and cross- border issues.

Regular attendance of educational events such as compliance and risk management seminars is also advisable.

Related:18 Tips to Start Imported Food Selling Business in Nigeria

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

18. Declare all goods

Shipments sometimes include free samples, but these also require a declaration.

In other words, free stuff isn’t free when it comes to customs clearance.

They require the same documentation as regular, purchased goods and are subject to duties and taxes.

19. Be responsible

Brokers must represent their clients to the best of their abilities.

This includes full adherence to applicable customs laws.

Any negligence or oversight can result in damage, delays and revenue losses.

Additionally, It can also reflect badly on the reputation of both broker and client.

20. Scope of authority:

Brokers must know their scope of authority.

Make efforts to improve their skills and conduct internal audits to improve operational efficiency.

At the same time, they are under obligation to provide accurate data and disclose any false or misleading information.

As an importer, you do have the option to self-clear your goods.

However, hiring a  broker gives you access to a wealth of knowledge, skill, and experience.

In other words, it spares you the hassle of navigating through the customs clearance maze yourself.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License

21. Find Contacts

You need to build a network of suppliers and buyers.

You might want to start from embassies, getting a list of importers and exporters.

It might also be wise to visit the Chambers of Commerce in the countries where you want to do business to get manufacturers, distributors and other useful contacts.

22. Check Reputation

Not all of the contacts you get will be good or straightforward so you need to assess them to establish their reputation.

You might want to do this using an online search and also talking to those who have worked with them in the past.

Find out the financial status of the companies and how long they have been in operation before initiating contact.

23. Negotiate an Agreement

This may call for a face-to-face meeting with willing partners so as to officially start the partnership.

Negotiate on the terms offered and reach a suitable middle ground that suits all parties involved.

Do not leave anything to chance as this may lead to friction in future.

How to get Import/ Export Broker’s License


  • analysis of shipping documentation to ensure compliance
  • preparation and e-submission of documents to government agencies
  • correct classification of goods, determination of taxes, excises, and duties
  • serving as a liaison between the company and government agencies
  • coordinating transportation, storage, and distribution of goods
  • cargo insurance against damage, loss or theft
  • overall streamlining of the clearance process


In other words, it takes a lot of time, skill and effort to clear items through Customs.

Brokers must take into account various government regulations and individual customer requirements.

Furthermore, brokers must be familiar with the  laws, the tariff schedule and the specific regulations and restrictions for each type of import.

Any errors in the clearance process can result in significant fines for the broker and the company.

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