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Onboarding a freight forwarder

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How to onboard with a freight forwarder or customs broker.

Every country has a customs authority to ensure goods are classified in the same way universally. Customs authorities record exports, collect statistics of international trade, stop undesirable goods entering the country and charge tax on goods.

As a single customs union the EU counts as one entity and customs inspections only occur across outer borders of the EU, from 1/1/2021 the UK is classed as a country outside of the EU single market and therefore full customs declarations will be required for all goods imported and exported across the border regardless of if a free trade agreement exists.

This is a relatively complex exchange of info and therefore you should consider using 3rd party such as a customs broker or freight forwarder to help with this.

They can support by declaring information to customs authorities, arrange payments of duties/taxes and assist in duty disputes should they arise.

There are a number of 3rd parties that can help, and some will also be able to help with the door-to-door transfer of goods crossborder. Those parties can be:

  • A Freight forwarder
  • Small parcel operators
  • Customs agents/brokers

What can onboarding with a 3rd party look like?

Onboarding can be a one-time process, per import country depending on where a 3rd party offers services. If you are shipping to/from multiple countries, you may be required to onboard with multiple 3rd parties depending on their capabilities.

What will I need to provide my customs broker?

You will need to provide the 3rd party with some details about your company, so they can consolidate this and deal with customs authorities on your behalf once you have a shipment to move.

Onboarding info will vary from provider to provider, but you should be prepared to provide the following:

  • VAT numbers
  • EORI numbers
  • Official business name and registered address
  • Business registration documents
  • Photo id
  • Hs code

When you are ready to move a shipment and employ the services of a 3rd party there will also be a need to provide shipment level information, again this can vary depending on supplier but be prepared to provide the following:

  • Commercial invoice/packing list
  • Collection/delivery addresses
  • Number of boxes/pallets, weights, dimensions
  • Unit/sku level data such as quantities/product descriptions.


Crossborder Logistics provide full door to door shipping services as well as customs brokerage solutions giving you the peace of mind that your entire supply chain can be handled by a single provider –please contact us for more information.