Licensed customs agent

A natural or legal person who has obtained an authorization from the Minister responsible for customs

What is a licensed customs agent?


A licensed customs agent is a person whose profession consists in fulfilling the customs formalities for a third party. In order to work as an approved broker, a customs agent must be registered with the General Directorate for Customs and Indirect Taxation.

Customs formalities are relatively complex. Professionals in international commerce often call on the services of a licensed customs agent, who is specialized in the management of import and export formalities.

A licensed customs agent anticipates potential difficulties which may arise during the exchange of the goods in question. The clients of a licensed customs agent are relieved of issues regarding regulations. The agent may also provide advisory services for his clients in order to facilitate the export or import of goods.


The missions of a licensed customs agent


Within the framework of his role, the customs agent can offer the following services:

  • Chartering of goods by road, sea, air or by multimodal shipment;
  • Organize the logistics of shipment;
  • Use appropriate services to ensure the legality of transport;
  • Manage the formalities and handling operations;
  • Issuing and gathering all necessary documents: declaration and presentation of goods;
  • Provide recommendations for the client’s needs…


Examples and practical applications


The licensed customs agent: direct or indirect mandate

There are two distinct ways for the customs agent to complete customs formalities:

  • Direct customs mandate – the customs agent carries out customs clearance operations on behalf of the third party;
  • Indirect customs mandate – the licensed customs agent, in this case, executes operations on his own account, although the operation is for a third party.


The sanctions for illegal activities by a customs agent

When a person declares goods for a third party but does not have the status of a licensed customs agent, he or she risks financial sanctions and may face legal proceedings.


Registering as a customs agent or broker

The EU/Community Customs Code created the status of approved customs agent. Since 1 May 2016, a person registered as a customs agent can execute customs formalities. Since 1 January 2018, a person who works in a direct or indirect mode must be registered prior to activity.

An application must be put forward and customs authorities will demand diverse documents in line with the person’s (natural or legal) situation:

  • Identity card;
  • Passport;
  • Residency permit;
  • Certificate of no criminal record;
  • Proof of address;
  • Proof of professional capacities;
  • Certification of incorporation or KBIS in France;
  • Proof of appointment as general director of the company
  • Deeds…

Registration allows an agent to become an authorized economic operator (AEO), a European reference which establishes competences for the role. Proof of competence in customs is not required; the existing approved customs agents acquired the status automatically on registration. They can, despite the decree of 13 April 2016 relative to the representation of customs and registry of customs agents, continue to fulfill their function of customs declarations and other formalities for a third party.


Licensed customs agents in figures


Approximately 800 licensed customs agents operate in France.


Regulatory basis


Regulation of 22 December 1998 relative to persons authorized to declare goods in detail and exercise the profession of customs agent.

Regulation of 13 April 2016 relative to customs brokering and the registry of customs brokers.

Circular of 14 June 2018 relative to the modalities of registry and tracking of licensed customs agents.