If you are not involved the international logistics field, you may not be familiar with the role of the customs specialist. However, they are very important for the custom clearance process, especially when you are importing sensitive products like toys, products requires FDA approval.

What is a customs specialist?

A customs specialist specializes in customs clearance functions.
They will receive a job request from another company, shipper and consignee,
and submit the documentation to receive an approval when importing and exporting cargo.

What is the role of a customs specialist?

Declaration process is the main role of a customs specialist.

When a customs specialist receives a job request from another company, they will submit documentation to the customs office. They will receive documentation for the product invoice, packing list and other documents for import and export shipping.

Then, on behalf of a shipper and consignee, they will declare the documentation to a customs office, and receive any necessary checks to receive an approval from the customs office.

What is the process of declaration?

There are export and import declarations in shipping job.

Usually import declaration is stricter than export declaration, as there are the prohibited cargo to import such as weapons and drugs.

The documentation that is required for an import declaration are as follows:

・Packing list
・Arrival Notice
・Description of product
・Certificate of origin
・Legal permit (if required)

To import cargo, you need to prepare all the documentation and send it to a customs specilist.

A customs specialist will take a look at the invoice, and check the product’s HS code on the customs tariff schedule. There are tax code numbers called HS codes on the customs tariff list. 9 digits code are allocated for all products using the list, and decide the HS code.

Then, a customs specialist will check the tax rate. Also, EPA is confirmed on the list. For example, when we are importing Balloon from China to the US, the customs duty is 0% by using EPA.

When a customs specialist inputs a HS code and cargo cost, the amount of tax will be calculated automatically.

When we take a look at the customs specialists’ role, it may sound simple. However, one declaration form may only require 5 minutes to complete. On the other hand, it may take more than 1 whole day to complete.

In some jobs, there are 100 items on an invoice, you need to allocate HS code and tax rate for each items. This job takes so much time if there are so many items on an invoice. Some items are able to allocate HS code easily, but some items are not so simple to allocate suitable HS code.

In this case, you may need to ask to the customs beforehand. It is very important to decide a suitable HS code as it can change the duty rate, which may impact the cost of import.

In Japan, there are three types of import declaration patterns.

  1. Immediate permission is given.
  2. Documentation check and then permission is given.
  3. Documentation check and goods inspection then permission is given.

Once the send button is pressed on NACCS, the items above will be randomly displayed on the screen. If 1 is displayed, the permission is immediate. If 2 or 3 is displayed, you need to prepare the necessary declaration documentation and send them to customs and wait for them to contact you.

If there is no problem on the documentation, the permission will be granted. However, if cargo inspection is required, you have to follow this request.

How to do cargo Inspection?

Cargo inspection will be witnessed by a customs broker. Basically, a customs specialist becomes anxious when a cargo inspection is carried out. They will bring the requested box, and it will be open with a customs officer present. They are not allowed to check the contents until this time.

It may contain different goods or different numbers of items inside of the box. Nothing declared on the documentation may be packed inside of the box. As the customs specialist has declared the cargo, they need to take responsibility. Therefore, they are always nervous when it comes to cargo inspection.

Anyway, once the permission is granted, they can receive the cargo and they can ship the cargo as domestic cargo.


By now, I hope you know what a customs specialist does. When exporting and importing cargo, a customs specialist is working behind the scenes. Even if you have never thought of a customs specialist, you are using goods that have been cleared by a customs specialist.

They calculates and checks the documentation to meet the deadline, and for the cargo to be able to be loaded onto the scheduled vessel, or air plane. It will be very helpful for you to prepare and provide the correct documentation,
and essential documentation for a customs specialist work.