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The Role of the Mexican Customs Broker

The Role of the Mexican Customs Broker

Most international trade transactions in the country require the services of a Mexican customs broker.

In Mexico, more than 90% of foreign trade transactions are carried out through customs brokers.  The Mexican customs broker provides legal representation for both exporters and importers before the country’s Customs authorities.  The clearance of goods must be conducted according to the requirements of Mexican Customs Law.

Article 159 of the nation’s Customs Law establishes that the Mexican customs broker acts as a “natural person” that is authorized by the Tax Administration Service (SAT) to execute the clearance of merchandise according to the different customs regimes that are defined in Mexican Customs Law.

The role of the Mexican customs broker is based on being a natural person certified by the governing authorities to perform certain functions related to international trade.  Among the most important of these is the preparation of the “pedimento.”  In Mexico, the pedimento is the most relevant customs form that importers and/or exporters use during the importation and/or exportation of their goods. 

Additionally, Mexican customs brokers perform classification operations.  Tariff classification is the process of determining the correct tariff code for imported and exported goods.  A third important function of a customs broker in Mexico is to make sure that the importation and/or exportation of goods in a foreign trade transaction adhere to the rules of the Customs Regimes that the government has in place.

Mexican customs brokers perfom many international trade functions

Recently, due to the nature of the activities that he or she performs, the Mexican customs broker is often a logistics agent that offers a fully integrated package of services.  This is the case due to the fact that many customs brokers in Mexico are able to provide an entire infrastructure for the transportation and storage of goods. 

These agents of international commerce can take care of the entire process from the moment at which the merchandise leaves its point of origin until it arrives at its final destination. Mexican customs brokers also contract on behalf of their clients for services such as loading and unloading, drayage, intermodal shipping, cargo manipulation, as well as payment of applicable tolls, the purchase of insurance and required bonds, and other services that must be procured in international trade transactions.   All tasks that are performed by Mexican customs brokers, or their third-party contractors, must comply with the country’s Custom Laws and the laws that govern international trade.

Customs brokers in Mexico act to collect taxes on behalf of the government

The Mexican customs broker also plays a very important role in collecting taxes that are due as revenue to the federal government.  Article 53 of the country’s Customs Law considers the broker to be jointly liable for the payment of all levies on foreign trade as well as the collection of Mexico’s Value Added Tax (VAT).  The custom broker ensures that the correct amount of taxes is paid to the federal government by determining the correct tariff classifications of the goods involved in an international trade transaction.  In addition to the fiscal duties that are assumed, customs brokers in Mexico also support efforts against customs fraud and smuggling.

Additionally, customs brokers in Mexico play a role in addressing matters of national security.  They are responsible for making sure that tariff and non-tariff regulations are complied with at the point of entry of goods into the country.  In this way, brokers protect citizens by controlling the entry of items that may be dangerous to health and to the environment.  Monitoring compliance with non-tariff regulations and restrictions means that Mexican customs brokers protect and preserve the nation’s flora, fauna, and public health.

The role of the customs agent in matters of legal security is relevant, as well, because he or she is the implementer of the rules and regulations of commercial treaties that have been negotiated by Mexico with its trading partners.  Customs brokers in Mexico are the party that ensures that foreign trade operations comply fully with the regulations established by the Mexican and international legal framework.

The customs broker in Mexico plays a further important role in international trade and Mexico’s economic life through his or her relationships with carriers, shipping agents, warehouses, regulatory authorities, banks, importers, exporters and insurers among others that are a party to foreign trade operations and transactions.

Customs rules and regulations are subject to change

The primary challenge that is faced by Mexican customs brokers is keeping abreast of the constant changes that take place in foreign trade regimes.  These changes can include those found in the particulars of international treaties, tariff classifications of goods, and changes that are made that affect non-tariff requirements and regulations.  It is of primordial importance that neither Mexican customs brokers nor their employees make mistakes in international trade transactions, as they can result in expensive fines and sanctions.

The role of the Mexican customs broker is manifold:  he or she is a trade advisor, a legal representative, a logistics operator, and a guarantor of national and legal security.  When doing international business in Mexico, the necessity of consulting with a customs broker is of the utmost importance.

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