Outsourcing customs handling to specialized customs service providers is repeatedly on the agenda among companies involved in international trade. This consideration is often driven by a lack of internal resources and aspects of compliance or cost. What should be considered in order to be able to make an appropriate entrepreneurial decision?

The costs for a well-functioning customs organization to keep internal know-how up to date and to provide the corresponding resources are increasing. The often expanding processes lead to increasingly greater risks. Not least because of strained supply chains, which require new procurement strategies and sometimes make customs processes more complex. Simplified procedures and economic business models are not being exploited, because people are just happy to manage it themselves.

A partial or complete outsourcing of customs activities can therefore always help to make this increasingly complex issue more strategically secure and cost-efficient. Outsourcing can help companies to cope better with a lack of internal capacity or lack of transparency on requirements due to a lack of customs knowledge. Commercial activity with many different countries may also prompt a desire to make the often fragmented customs processes more transparent.

However, various factors must be taken into account in the decision-making process for possible outsourcing as well as in the selection of providers and the awarding of contracts. The prospect of a successful partnership and trouble-free handling is thus significantly improved.

If the issue of customs and foreign trade is one that a company has to deal with in a new way (e.g. no previous trade with third countries, mergers, due diligence, Brexit, etc.), it is advisable to set up your processes correctly at the start as well as to secure professional support in this area.

From the tender process through to different business models and the form of collaboration, there are a number of things to consider and decide on in terms of the extent of your outsourcing:

  • Which customs-relevant tasks could a provider take on?
  • To what extent could a customs agency operate – what is the objective?
  • Which business model for outsourcing my customs services is right for my company – direct or indirect representation, business process outsourcing (BPO) or a combination – and which of the options can my chosen customs agent offer?


Depending on how you rate the above questions internally, it is important to find the right partner for your outsourcing project. We have a checklist available for free download, which offers you an overview of the relevant criteria for choosing a customs provider. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


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KGH is part of Maersk Customs Service. We represent Maersk Customs Services in Europe and are present in 24 markets. Every day we interact with thousands of companies as well as trade associations and authorities around the world. We are 1,300 specialists, providing a vast range of customs services, from a full range of customs declaration services to consulting services and new digital solutions.


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