What do corporates need when they want to grow internationally? Apart from great products which meet the needs of market abroad and deal with the end market retailer or wholesalers, they also need to clear the process of transport of goods from their door to the destination. Now this transport involves a lot of steps- one of the most important and critical being custom clearance.
Now big corporates have anyways a lot to deal with, and if top management starts taking care of these complicated dealings with custom regulations and clearance, they would be lost. Thus corporates appoint what is known as custom house agent (CHA). These are company appointed agents who act on their behalf for all the dealings with custom office. CHAs are representatives of the company and their actions are governed by section 146 of the Customs Act. These agents are legally licenced by the Commissioner of the Customs. This licence is obtained by the written examination which a candidate can give once he/ she has gained some experience working in the field through temporary licence. Once exam is cleared, only then permanent licence is granted. Custom house brokers or clearing agents all have the same purpose- to take care of customs regulations and documentation. Since the laws keep changing, agents need to be updated with latest developments as custom house is very strict about these and can cancel a shipment in case of wrong or incomplete documentation.
Though corporates in almost every country needs custom agents, they are more of a necessity in India given the bureaucracy in government offices. A person needs to be well networked and relationships are important to get work done from government so a dedicated CHA helps corporates reduce their headache to a huge extend.