In Mexico the customs clearance of goods may be performed either directly by importers or exporters, or through customs brokers. When clearing goods directly, importers and exporters must do it through a legal representative approved by the Mexican Treasury. Most of the importers and exporters in Mexico choose to clear goods through customs brokers that follow up the entire clearance process.

According to the Mexican Customs Law, customs brokers are authorized individuals or agencies, licensed to carry out the customs clearance of goods on behalf of importers and exporters. Customs brokers will be responsible for the veracity and accuracy of all the information to be declared and transmitted for purposes of clearance; to properly determine the customs regime and the correct tariff classification of the goods; as well as of ensuring that the importer and exporter has all the documents to prove compliance with non-tariff regulations.

In addition, customs brokers are obligated to maintain an electronic file of each one of the customs declarations (in Spanish “pedimentos”) and documents in the form that they were submitted or transmitted for customs clearance purposes.

When hiring a customs broker in Mexico, companies must take care of preparing and entering into a contract that protects their interests and regulates the services to be provided by the broker, rather than just accepting the broker's terms and conditions.

You can say that customs brokers actually become partners of companies during the customs clearance of goods; so it is worth to take the time to properly set the terms and conditions of the relationship, to ensure that the companies will not be held liable nor incur in omissions or penalties, as a consequence of failure of the customs broker.

For instance, it is recommended for companies to include in the contract regulating the relation with a customs broker, in addition to ordinary clauses, provisions that obligate the broker to:

  1. timely notify the company from any delay, retention, seizure, sampling, requirement o similar by the customs authorities;
  2. verify the accuracy and validity of all the documents provided by the company to be submitted for clearance purposes, such as commercial invoices, transportation bills, certificates of origin, etc., and to inform from any inconsistency;
  3. properly establish the tariff classification of the goods;
  4. inform the company from any license, authorization, regulation to be complied as a consequence of the tariff classification of the goods;
  5. compensate the company for loss or damage due to error or negligence during the clearance process, even after the clearance is concluded;
  6. maintain an electronic file of the customs operations of the company as provided by the Mexican Customs Law, which must be delivered to the company;  among others.

As in any contractual relationship, it will be in the best interest of a company that enters into a services agreement with a customs broker, to be exhaustive and clear in the scope of the services of the broker to prevent future issues resulting from the customs clearance.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.