Self-filing vs. outsourcing; a cost comparison
Whether self-filing is more cost-efficient than outsourcing to a customs broker depends on the number and nature of the shipments. A customs broker charges € 18 to € 35 on average for an export shipment and € 65 to € 90 for an import shipment. Customs brokers determine their pricing based on the total number of declarations and the number of line-items per declaration. Furthermore, extra costs are incurred when the type of shipped goods requires additional documents or process steps, which is the case, for example, for excise goods, fruit/vegetables, or dual-use goods.
Estimating the costs of outsourcing to a logistics service provider is more difficult. Most logistics service providers include the costs for customs declarations in a discounted all-inclusive rate, so there is no transparency on the breakdown of total costs.
Exporters that plan to take care of customs declarations themselves will have to invest in staff with customs expertise. In this scenario, labor costs can quickly add up to € 75,000 per employee per year. The other important cost element is software. Integrating a customs filing solution with the exporter’s ERP system is key, otherwise a lot of time of the costly workforce will be wasted on manual data processing. However, keep in mind that outsourcing also requires employees to exchange data with the customs broker.
Now which scenario is the most cost-efficient? Let’s look at a calculation example in which a company files 2,000 export declarations and 2,000 import declarations per year. Two full-time employees are required to process these volumes. Annual cost of labor: € 150,000. If we add the cost of a software solution for processing import declarations and export declarations, the total sum is € 172,782 per year.
Outsourcing to a customs broker leads to a significantly higher cost of € 247,500 though.
In this example, it is more cost-efficient to set up an in-house customs department.