“Clearing and forwarding agent” or C&F agents are one of the essential parties of export and import management process. Exclusively, they are authorized to enter in customs area for completing shipment formalities. Exporters appoint them for clearing (import) and forwarding (export) goods from customs. Any mistakes in Export-import shipment procedures are very costly and time-consuming. Therefore, every exporter should appoint Clearing and Forwarding (C&F) agents who are experts in the shipment procedures and well experienced in the customs environment.
How C&F Agents work
The infographic below shows the functionalities of a C&F agent and relationship between the C&F agent and Exporter. In the beginning of the shipment process, the exporter appoints a C&F agent to maintain custom formalities and complete the shipping procedure. Exporters also provide them all the necessary documents to fulfill customs requirements.
C&F agent and Exporter in shipment process
As the goods enter in customs, the work of C&F begins. At first, they check all the necessary customs documents. Then, they prepare the bill of export. Besides that, if there is any correction needed, they contact the exporter and recommend the correction. As part of the formality, to forward the goods from customs to export, they submit all the documents along with the bill of exports to the customs officer. If everything goes well and the shipment is approved by the authority, all the documents-now attested are returned back to the C&F. Finally, the C&F agent sends back these documents to the exporter. The end of the formal custom process of exporting port.
Responsibilities of C&F Agent?
A clearing and forwarding agent normally undertake the following activities:
- Receiving the goods from exporters and importers
- Proper storage & handling of goods
- Maintain necessary formalities inside customs
- Fill up Bill of Export
- Maintain service record etc.
How To Find A Good C & F Agent?
C & F agents might be different based on shipping mode. You must not use the same agent for all modes. So, it would be difficult for you to choose the right c & f agent. As a new exporter, it might be a wise decision for you to use a reference for choosing the C&F agent. Besides, reviews and previous records would also be handy to find out the right one for you.
Things your agent will help you with
- Advice on transportation.
- Arrange local transport.
- Advising on local laws.
- Product labeling and packing work.
- To assist in obtaining clearance from the customs department.
- In case of tax exemption, to collect it.
- To perform duties related to product tax collection.
C&F Hiring Precautions
- Hire an agent who has good knowledge of all the sectors of freight transportation. If there is any problem related to transportation then the alternative will be pointed out immediately.
- It is important to have good knowledge of storing products in the warehouse.
- Experienced in preparing shipping documents and everything related to documents.
- To be proficient in the formalities of the bank.
It is also good if you have good communication with your C&F agent abroad. In that case, if the product is temporarily stored somewhere or any problem arises, it can help to solve it quickly.
What to Discuss Before Hiring :
- What kind of service will your C&F agent give you? Keep in mind, exactly what service you need. For work that you don’t need, you should sit and look at it without asking for extra rent.
- In addition to providing the mentioned services, the agent will be disclosed in advance about how much responsibility the agent is willing to take.
- It is good to know in which sectors there is a possibility of getting compensation.
- How much to pay the C&F agent?
It is important to get feedback from the expert people before hiring a C&F agent. In many cases, even if the service is cheap, the quality of service may be poor.
Your success in the export trade largely depends on how quickly and efficiently you are able to ship your goods to the buyer. And the C&F agent does the most necessary work in doing this. So, hire a C&F agent carefully considering all aspects.