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Difference between customs broker and IOR

What Is The Difference Between A Customs Broker And Importer Of Record?
Here at Blackthorne, we completely understand what the complicated process of shipping abroad can be. Around the globe every day, millions of pounds’ worth of goods move across from country to country, undertaking various clearance checks – especially IT equipment. To stay compliant and to ensure a smooth process, businesses often require IOR services, or work with customs brokers – but what is the difference between these two entities?

What is an Importer of Record?
If you are looking to ship IT products abroad, you will require an Importer of Record. This recognised individual would be responsible for the payment of duties, tariffs, and fees of the imported goods, ensuring compliance with all necessary regulations and statutes in the countries they are trading in. Their responsibilities of the IOR include ensuring correct documentation, classification, and valuation of the goods as well as payment of any duties, tariffs, or other fees of the imported goods.

What is a Customs Broker?
A customs broker – or import broker – is an expert in international trade who typically deal with the import/export procedures of global trading. This individual has the responsibility of recording and keeping all documentation relating to customs movements for six years, which must be kept safe and confidential at all times.

The regulations for custom brokers are different in certain areas of the globe, as in the United States, US Customs broker licenses are issued and overseen by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Whereas, for custom brokers operating within the European Union, there is no licensing system and it is down to the importer or exporter to ensure that any party acting on their behalf is in the position to do so.

What is the difference?
As a customs Broker, this entity is not responsible for paying the taxes and duties, or ensuring the goods arrive at their destination. Their role is to keep abreast of the changing rules and regulations, and make sure that their clients have all the paperwork and licenses they need to import goods to the UK.

On the other hand, a third-party Importer of Record is required when the seller or buyer does not want to be the legal importer or exporter of the goods – not getting involved in the legal process at all. This is required with heavily restricted items, such as IT equipment, as this can be a lengthy and highly-regulated process. The IOR becomes the temporary owner of the goods until the goods have been accepted by a distribution centre.

If you are not familiar with the process of these two different entities, it is worth speaking to a professional as they can provide you with expert advice. The different roles and responsibilities involved in customs clearance can also vary from country to country, so it is important that you have a thorough understanding beforehand.

How can Blackthorne help you?
As a business, we are very devoted to all the work we do and can provide you with an audit of your current and/or planned overseas export activities. Based on this data, our specialist team can tailor a bespoke export representation package specific to your needs. Our freight management services mean that we can manage the whole process for you and get your equipment where it needs to be.

To find out some more information regarding our range of IOR and exporting services, please feel free to telephone us on +44 1753 687848, or send across an email to You can have an in-depth conversation with a member of our team, discussing how we can best meet your specific requirements.

How can we help you?

Discover our range of fully compliant solutions of for expert help, please get in touch with us at Blackthorne.