Customs Clearance Fee: What Is It, How To Pay It & Customs Clearance Agents

Customs Clearance Fees & Charges

What is this Fee:  A customs clearance fee is levied by the customs clearance agent or customs broker to cover the cost of preparing and filing customs documents.

Who Charges the Customs Clearance Fee: Forwarder or Customs Broker/Agent

Charge At: Origin/Destination

Customs Clearance Agents

Customs brokers or clearance agents are licensed through CBP to act on behalf of importers. They may be independent or may also operate as a freight forwarder. When you book your shipment, ask your logistics provider if they provide additional services such as customs brokerage.

Customs brokers or customs clearance agents help importers get their freight through customs as quickly and smoothly as possible. Without correct documentation, details, and payment, your goods could get held up, be liable for additional fees or penalties, or even get sent back to their origin.

A skilled, licenses customs broker will help lower the cost of duties and taxes while ensuring regulatory compliance.

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How Much Do Clearing Agents Cost?

The customs clearance charge covers the process of preparing and submitting Customs Entry documentation to the CBP.

This is also known as Customs Brokerage.

Customs brokerage is performed by licensed brokers or clearing agents. Fees vary depending on the company and the location, as well as on the range of services provided. While  clearing agents do incur additional costs to importers, this is often worthwhile because customs brokers can help save you money on duties and taxes while helping you avoid penalties or unnecessary charges.customs clearance fee

How To Pay Customs Clearance Fees

The customs clearance fee is paid directly to the customs broker or customs clearance agent to cover the cost of submitting documentation and processing duties payment. This can be charged as a flat for per service, as one price for a bundle of services, or as a percentage of the shipment value.

How much are Custom Clearance Fees?

The standard rate for Customs Clearance is roughly around $50 for clearance with China’s Customs and an additional $100-$120 for clearance with CBP.

While customs clearance fees cannot be anticipated when you first get your freight quote, you can estimate your duties using this calculator:

You should also be aware that CBP may (at their discretion) conduct an examination, accruing higher total costs for you (refer ISF Filing, above).

Examination is almost guaranteed when shipping some products, e.g. food, drugs, animal goods, and in these cases your documentation is also supplied to other government agencies (OGA) concerned with threats to national health, safety, and security.

Want to avoid potential customs clearance delays and fees? Check out our recent guide to ‘Understanding Customs Clearance Procedures’. 


Check out our guide to all common freight charges, surcharges, and fees.