The Difference between Customs Agents and Cargo Agents

Carlos GarciaGeneralLeave a Comment

If you haven’t already noticed, the logistics field has a reputation for utilizing a lot of transportation-specific lingo. Some of it’s easy to decipher, while other nicknames and acronyms are cryptic to say the least. Over the years we’ve become quite proficient in “Logistics-ish,” but we also understand that nailing down the nomenclature doesn’t come quickly. For example, in this business we can refer to either a “Customs Agent” or a “Cargo Agent.” While the terms are so similar that it’s easy to mistake their meanings, in practice they actually define very different job responsibilities.

Cargo Agents

A Cargo Agent works directly with customers during the shipping process. They can assist you in filing paperwork, finding the best (and cheapest!) routes for your goods, and negotiating terms with carriers. You might think of them as a booking agent or a commercial version of a travel agent. Just like someone might look for help to find the best deals and dates for their vacation, shippers can benefit in a significant way by looking to cargo agents to handle all the nitty-gritty details of their shipment’s journey.

Customs Agents

On the other hand, Customs Agents provide a more specific service. They station themselves at ports and await your goods’ arrival. Think of how front desk employees at a hotel make it their primary responsibility to greet newly arrived vacationers and ensure that all their plans are in order. In this analogy, customs agents are your shipments’ hotel greeters and take on primary responsibility for receiving commercial goods at their destination and preparing them for the next step. This is especially important given the unfortunately reality that a shipment could easily show up to the port with holds on 15 to 20 different items. Customs agents work quickly and efficiently to clear those holds in a timely manner so that you don’t have to worry about delays.

Invaluable Services across the Globe

Despite their differences, cargo and customs agents have plenty in common. First of all, they both provide invaluable support to busy shippers. Their specialized services allow them to take over some of the most frustrating parts of international transportation so that you can focus on growing your business.

But that’s not all. One of the most important similarities between these two services is that LILLY provides them both! Our experienced staff can give you advice or direct assistance on all of the tasks mentioned above. And because we have offices on multiple continents, geography isn’t an issue for us. We can connect you with highly qualified representatives in the United States, Central America, or Asia who will handle every last detail of your cargo’s travels.

Carlos Garcia

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