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How to Master the Export-Import Business as an Agent/Broker in India?

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How much money can an import/export broker make? Well, a lot, but you need some quality clients for that. The import/export business needs investment, but that doesn’t imply an agent or broker. Most importantly, there’s a great demand for an import export broker and agent because they eases out the whole procedure of this business.

Your job will be to prepare necessary documents for importing/exporting your clients’ products. You can also earn well by helping your clients establish connections with foreign companies.

Now, it’s time to carefully learn what skills you’ll need, what your jobs will be and what challenges can hinder your path.

Did you know? 

To get started as an import/export broker/agent, you can only need to invest a minimum capital and you don’t need to have a large backup fund to move forward either.

What Does a Customs Broker Mean?

Whether you call it an import/export broker, or a customs broker, both mean the same. Their main job is to smoothen the process of importing/exporting goods and facilitate the clearance of whatever is imported/exported through various customs procedures. 

Import/export brokers closely understand international trade and keep a sharp eye on changing rules and regulations. The clients don’t need to worry about the paperwork and licenses because that all comes under the responsibilities of import export agents

How Are Customs Brokers Different From Freight Forwarders? 

Well, both are entirely different. Import/export procedures come under the brokers’ responsibilities, while freight forwarders take care of logistics. However, we can find some freight forwarding agents playing the roles of customs brokers and taking care of customs requirements. You don’t need to baffle yourself in the beginning. Just stick to your plan of being a customs broker. Later on, you can also learn the skills of a freight forwarder.

What Exactly Is the Job of a Customs Broker?

 Export and import agents work with importers to ensure that the licenses and all vital documents are in place. Besides that, the broker also ensures correct taxes and duties are paid and decreases the chances of delays in the process. In short, a custom broker does the job of bringing in goods for any importer very easily.   

Their services as an international broker for export includes the following:

  • Preparation and submission of all vital documents needed while clearing custom procedures smoothly.
  • Liaising with government customs authorities and agencies on the client’s behalf.
  • Checking the valuation and classification of goods and ensuring the client uses the correct commodity codes.
  • Helping to arrange gathering payment of value added tax (VAT) and import duties as per the requirements. 
  • Advising on any vital import licenses of hazardous or restricted goods.

Due to these many advantages, most international traders prefer buying agents for export and import.   

Also Read: Top Performing Import-Export Business Ideas In India

How to Get Started as an Export-Import Agent/Broker?

Educate Yourself

Understanding the basic import-export law, trade policies, currency transactions, documentation, etc. is necessary to become an import export broker. If you’re weak on such grounds, you’ll struggle in getting profitable import-export deals. If you want a big name as a customs broker, it’s always good to get a diploma or relevant degree in international economics and business. You should have a keen understanding of international markets and how import-export-trading works.

Being a custom broker isn’t easy anyway. So, boosting the mathematical and basic conceptual knowledge and refining the sense of understanding the trends of developing markets is highly important. This knowledge will help you pull your client out of troubles as well. Also, understand the risk factors of being an import export agent before proceeding into this profession. 

Specialize Yourself in a Particular Geographical Location

Just getting a degree isn’t everything. You further need to socialize yourself in a specific area. You can specialize in a particular geographical location, for example, Latin America. If you do so, you’ll certainly get good clients working with the import-export markets of that region, and they’ll depend on your knowledge. You can also specialize yourself in specific types of products. For example, if you specialize in spices and condiments, you can catch exporters/importers working in the relevant fields and impress them with your expertise in the domain.

Why is specializing necessary? Can’t you do without getting too deep into a specific department? Good question!

Being a custom agent, you need an in-depth understanding of licensing needs of specific geographical locations and products belong to that regio. You can’t expect a long and successful career serving as a “jack of all trades.”

Penetrate into Your Focus Area

Once you’ve decided on your area of specialization, it’s time to measure your depth of knowledge in the field. If you’ve decided to be an expert on any specific product, you’ll have to study the economics and politics of your focus area. 

Let’s say, if you’ve decided to go with fruits, you’ll have to understand all the rules binding this product in various international markets. You should have proper knowledge of the prices of fruits in various international markets, price fluctuations in recent years, etc. Now, if you’ve decided to be a guru of a geographical location, ensure you know the local language spoken there. Who knows, the documents that may be presented to you will be in the local language rather than English. Also, you may come in contact with other people in your business field who may not know English. 

Besides what we mentioned above, you’ll also need to have a fine sense of understanding the common issues, opportunities, dangers, etc. associated with the country you’ve chosen. 

Obtain All Compulsory Permits and Licenses 

If becoming an import export broker in India is your goal, You’ll have to contact the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry to apply for necessary licensing. Besides that, there can be a few permit requirements in the country you’ve targeted. Now, a few licenses and documents may be compulsory, while a few won’t be. We’d advise you to prepare a full stack of licenses and documents because you don’t know what might be needed when.

Also Read: Tips to Make a Robust Export-Import Business Plan

Cherish Your Local Export Laws

If you don’t understand your country’s export laws, you can’t be an expert as an import-export broker/agent. We’ve already explained the importance of educating yourself in this profession, and learning about the laws is equally important. You don’t want to face legal issues while operating your business, right? After all, who wants to harm their career? So, it’s better to equip yourself with the right knowledge. 

Find Opportunities

If you’re up-to-date with whatever we’ve mentioned above, it’s time for you to hunt down the opportunities and get yourself on the desk to begin your journey. You’ll need an office space for yourself and an initial operating fund to begin the business. If you feel that you aren’t financially prepared enough, or don’t have strong connections for funding, then no worries. There’s always another way. You can search for import-export job posts in brokerage firms or agencies. You’ll gain great experience if you find the right one.

Never Stop Your Research

The import-export market can be very agile and fast-changing. How would you keep up with this pace? The truth is that every single successful import export broker or agent never quits on researching. You shouldn’t be unaware of global economic trends, as opportunities won’t come walking to you. This business demands the ‘continuing education factor, and there’s nothing wrong in that. 


You can expect a lavish life as an import export broker. The Indian government is already putting forth many attempts to promote import-export business, and you’ll also reap benefits from the same. Who knows, the government may announce something that generates opportunities for you, and you may elevate the level of your living in less time than you expected! However, remember that this business takes time to build and demands knowledge. So, be patient and knowledgeable. You can earn well if you satisfy people looking for your services. Follow  Legal Tree for the latest updates, news blogs, and articles related to micro, small and medium businesses (MSMEs), business tips, income tax, GST, salary, and accounting.


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