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Customs House Agent(CHA)/Customs Broker: Everything you need to know

Customs House Agent(CHA),Wharf

A customs House agent is a person who involves with international trade by helping with customs clearance of export and import shipments.

He is an agent of customs while he acts as an agent of the shipment owner or importer or exporter.

Here we are going to identify the role of the CHA, and CHA pass, the benefits of the CHA pass holder, CHA job markets, the required skills and knowledge to be a CHA, and more details.

Before the explain about CHA, it needs to get an idea about the customs authority of a country.

What is customs or customs house?

It is a government department that is the main body involving imports and exports for the country. The main function of customs is the collection of revenue.

It is the main income source of a country. Customs collect revenue while providing facilities for trading and social protection with the enforcement of the law.

All countries have their own customs rules and regulation according to that custom protect their country and society by enforcing laws of import and export.

All the products come into the country and out to the country observed by the customs authority of the country. So all kinds of imports and exports need to face process customs clearance.

Let’s identify who CHA is.

who is CHA?

CHA stands for Custom House Agent.

Who is the Customs House Agent?

He acts as an agent of customs. The custom house agent is the intermediary party between customs and the cargo owner/importer/exporter/consignee.

Customs house agents are involving the process of import and export, such as customs declaration (Cusdec) submitting to customs, entry passing, and cargo clearance process.

CHA is an essential involved party in the clearance process. Because they are the authorized agents of the customs who can involve in the import and export process.

Functions as a legal advisor of the importer or exporter regarding the customs clearance process. In short customs clearance, A to Z process is done by CHA.

Other names for customs house agent

  • CHA
  • Wharf clerk
  • Clearing agent
  • Custom broker
  • Clearinghouse agent

What is the Customs House Agent pass?

  • Customs house agent pass is Commonly known as CHA or wharf pass. It is an identification card for work as a customs house agent.
  • Sometimes it is an authorization card for entering customs offices and other authorities relevant to import-export clearance matters.
  • It has a validity period from the registration, you need to renew your CHA pass before the expiry date.
  • The validity period varies with the country. For example, It is valid for one year period from the registration (in Sri Lanka), so needs to renew annually.

What benefits of having CHA pass?/CHA pass holder’s benefits?

  • With a CHA pass, you can work in the logistics industry because there is a higher demand for customs house agents in logistics, clearing, and shipping industry companies.
  • CHA holder can release their own cargo when importing and exporting goods
  • There are highly paid job industry in globally for CHA holders
  • CHA pass is an added qualification for academic studies in the supply chain and logistics industry.
  • CHA pass holders can be entered into customs places without getting previous permissions.

Duties and obligations of a Customs House Agent?

  1. CHA acts as an intermediary party of the customs and importer or exporter
  2. CHA is the person acting as the shipper’s authorized agent or consignee(representing party). So CHA can sign documents of customs clearance and can participate customs related examinations during the customs clearance process
  3. CHA pass holders can be entered into customs places without getting previous permissions.
  4. CHA can submit shipping documents and clearing documents (CusDec, invoices,b/l, approval license and certificates, packing list, certificate in origin, etc.) to customs for clearing purposes.
  5. CHA needs to act as a representative of the cargo owner or representing company he is responsible to coordinate and pay customs duties and other charges related to the clearance process for representing the party.
  6. CHA is liable to give correct details of the shipments to customs without hiding shipment details
  7. CHA can obtain import and export control licenses and permits for approvals on behalf of the representing party
  8. As a representative of the shipper or consignee or other parties of the cargo owner, He can enter into a bond till the goods clearing, and keep goods in bonded warehouses.
  9. Boding-related tasks he can do, paperwork and arranging to bond facilities, etc
  10. When releasing the cargo after the boding agreement is over or when need to release goods CHA is doing all the tasks for bonded cargo clearing purposes.
  11. If a shipment is under customs examination CHA can be present for the examination ad he is liable to supply accurate details to customs as well as represent the company of the cargo owner.
  12. At each and every step of the cargo clearance process, CHA is liable to update the cargo owner and he must coordinate the clearing process efficiently by arranging payments and transport and warehousing facilities at right time.
  13. CHA should have sound knowledge of Classifications of goods and HS code checking.
  14. Customs House Agent’s main responsibility is to make hassel free clearance processes for importers or exporters.
  15. Bonding warehouse and value-added activities sometimes need to involve CHA, Such as submitting goods to value-adding warehouses and value-added products sent to the customs clearance process.
  16. BOI cargo clearance process also involved in Custo House Agent.

Main Functions of the CHA

  • Need to update and keep records of transactions associated with the import and export and follow up on each stage of the shipment.
  • Keep a better network of transport and distribution providers, get support from logistics providers, and ensure that hassel free transport and distribution process in to and out of the port.

How to become a Customs House Agent?

  1. Start to work in a custom clearing company.
  2. Getting on-the-job training
  3. Need to get a letter from the company confirming you are an employee at the clearing company.
  4. This letter is an essential document for applying for the CHA examination (in Sri Lanka)
  5. Register for the CHA examination at the country’s customs.
  6. To become a custom house agent, it is necessary to pass the CHA examination.
  7. After the pass the CHA exam you need to register as a Customs house agent. For that, you need to deposit a specific amount of cash guarantee. The cash guarantee amount is different from country to country. For example, the Sri Lanka cash deposit is 50,000LKR

What are the common documents required for applying for a CHA pass in a country?

Required document for registering as a CHA /Wharf clerk varies from country to country. Next, I would like to list some common documents for CHA registration.

  • Custom house Agent certificate
  • Personal Identification verifying documents.
  • Duly completed CHA registration application

Essential requirements for work as a Customs House Agent or wharf in Sri Lanka?

  • You need to pass the CHA exam, which is conducted by the customs authority of Sri Lanka.
  • You should have a CHA pass.
  • You need to have or work under a registered company.
  • You need to deposit the required amount of cash.

What are the requirements and mandatory documents for getting CHA License in Sri Lanka?

  1. Requesting letter from the company (signed by directors/partner/proprietor)
  2. Completed CHA application form.
  3. Company documents-Business Registration Certificate of the company, Form 1/Form 2A/Form 48/Form 20/Form 41, Articles of Association / Memorandum of Association
  4. TIN certificate
  5. VAT certificate
  6. Cash grantee

What are the benefits of hiring CHA for the clearing process? as a company or individuals

It is a formal clearing process

Can get professional advice-functions as a legal advisor

So can avoid unnecessary delays and costs.

Is Customs House Agent a customs officer or an employee?

No, Actually CHA is not an employee of the customs. Customs House Agent is an external party involving customs clearance and customs examination process. He worked under a privately owned company or representative of the exporter or importer.

What are the skills and knowledge need to be a CHA?


excellent communication skills

Better interpersonal skills

negotiation skills

better stress-handling skills in the critical situation

willing to face challenges in the job

Ability to work under pressure

time management

Willing to work long hours if required(because the customs clearance process and customs work in 24 hours and 365 days in most countries)

cooperation with others

ability to work as a team


Knowledge of international trading and transportation process

Customs clearance procedure for imports and exports

better knowledge of shipping documents

HS codes and goods classification

Relevant country’s customs law and rules and regulations

world standards and rules and regulations have to follow in the imports and exports documentation process

Knowledge about import and export license permits, and approvals required and relevant authorities

English knowledge

Knowledge regarding customs management systems and customs payment systems

need computer literacy skills

customs duty calculations

International commercial terms (inco terms), delivery terms

International payments terms and methods

Bonded warehouse facility regarding documents and activities

The job market of customs house agents?

Customs House agent is a highly paid job in the shipping industry.

you can work at import and export companies, freight forwarding companies, and clearing agencies, and also individuals you can work as a Customs House Agent.

What is the CHA exam?

The Customs House agent exam also called as wharf assistance exam or customs broker exam, and the customs clearing exam.

The name of the exam differs from country to country. But this exam is conducted by the customs authority of the country.

It is necessary to face and pass the CHA exam to be a Customs house agent and obtain a CHA pass.

What is a CHA certificate?

Customs House Agent Certificate is offered by customs authority to those who successfully completed the CHA course and passed the cha examination.

this certificate is mandatory to apply for CHA pass. so it is essential to document for becoming a customs house agent.

Customs House Agent-related videos,

who is CHA? sourced by dailylogistics

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what is Bonded warehouse: Everything you need to know

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