Agentes aduaneiros, Brazil imports, Customs brokers/brokerage, Customs officials, Despachante aduaneiro, Fortaleza/Ceará, Import product classification, Organização Paulo Rocha, Receita Federal do Brasil
Customs officials (agentes aduaneiros) at Fortaleza’s port and airport, in Brazil’s northeast state of Ceará, were not my favorite kind of people. With the duty of collecting import and other government taxes and combating counterfeit and contraband trade, they cannot afford to be friendly individuals. In a society where corruption among government officials at all levels is commonplace, reputable agents cannot curry favor with the business community.
Corrupt agents, encountering discrepancies in shipping documents, the price of an item, or one or more of your goods during a physical inspection, seek bribes to make the problem disappear to clear your goods. Others may find problems where none exist.
Customs brokers (despachantes aduaneiros) – in the business for many years and who have day-to-day contact with government officials at the ports and airports – know what type of agent they are dealing with and the best ways of handling difficult situations in order to expedite clearance of their clients’ goods. At Ceará Importers Ltda (fictitious name), I was fortunate to work with such a customs brokerage family-owned firm. The customs brokers and staff at Organização Paulo Rocha, were not only competent and reliable, but always attentive to my needs as import manager throughout all stages of the import process.
During the five plus years that I handled import shipments for Ceará Importers, I worked with a wide range of consumer products: perfumes; toiletries; pharmaceutical products; chocolate, ice-cream and other food products; toys; electrical and electronic appliances; paper products; leather handbags; carpets and rugs; party and other decorative items; and household articles of plastic, glass, metal, and wood. Expediency and success in obtaining import licenses (Licença de Importação), for products subject to government control, and import declarations (Declaração de Importação) required accuracy in the product classification of each item in accordance with the Nomenclatura Comum do Mercosul (NCM). Whenever I encountered difficulties in classifying a product, I could call on the staff at Paulo Rocha for immediate assistance, avoiding the time-consuming protocol when consulting the Customs Department.
Legally registered with the Secretaria da Receita Federal (Federal Revenue Secretariat) of the Ministry of Finance, customs brokers are required to keep updated on import-export procedures and regulations for customs clearance. When the government issued a new regulation for the import of toys from China, Paulo Rocha contacted us immediately. At the time, we had a shipment en route. While I chased after the technical product reports from the Chinese manufacturers for all toys on our import declaration, Paulo Rocha worked with customs agents to clear our shipment without undue delay.
A competent, reliable, and attentive customs brokerage is worth the additional operational cost for any small- and medium-sized import company. I could not have succeeded as an import manager without the partnership of our customs brokers.