Customs Brokerage

Customs brokerage—the process of clearing cargo with Customs and Border Protection—is at the core of what we do. We have the technology, knowledge and hands-on experience essential to navigating the complexities of a customs brokerage operation.

We advocate for our clients, helping them address international trade and compliance matters with confidence. Our customs brokerage services include:

List of Customs Brokerage Services:
  • Entry Preparation and Customs Clearance
  • ACE Filer
  • Track and Trace
  • EDI Notifications and Alerts
  • Remote Location Filing (RLF)
  • Bonds and Insurance
  • Importer Security Filing (ISF)
  • Documentation Scanning and Electronic Retrieval
  • Drawback
  • Special Services Yacht/Aircraft
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Customs Brokerage Client Study


Due to a slow service provider, a large east coast importer of well-known branded athletic footwear and sports gear was 2 years behind in filing their drawback claims. This lag was causing an unacceptable delay in refunds, which kept a key revenue stream from being booked as income. The importer’s top management and accounting department did not want any more excuses; they needed the large duty refunds that were rightfully theirs.


Could Vandegrift help the importer catch up and reduce the lag time in filing drawback claims?

Vandegrift Solution

Vandegrift immediately set out to automate a solution. Because they did not handle the import entries, Vandegrift needed to bring all of the data onboard quickly, efficiently and accurately. Vandegrift’s experienced IT department created code to run all of the import data through their system, weed out the anomalies and match import data to the export data which they then linked to the warehouse records.

Once the automation was ready, Vandegrift set up an in person meeting that included the Vandegrift drawback team, the importer’s compliance and logistics team and CBP’s drawback team in the port of filing. Vandegrift experts led the meeting and laid out the data integrity plan, method of drawback filing and problem resolution strategy.

All parties signed off on the procedures and the process was approved by the importer. Within three months of implementing the new systems, the importer had recovered over $1 million in back refunds.

Technology & Automated Tools

Vandegrift is the industry leader in customizable automation. Not only do we understand how advanced technology can be used to improve the process, we have the capacity and capability to implement solutions quickly and efficiently. Our user-driven solutions are practical, flexible and sustainable.

Our Solution Center often serves as a Vandegrift client’s internal IT resource. It is also where we design, develop and test automated strategies. In the Solution Center, we can move rapidly through a project that may otherwise take months or years to develop.

The list below contains services and solutions addressed through automation.

List of Technology Services:
  • Customized Programming
  • Global Classification
  • On-Demand KPI and Management Reporting
  • Purchase Order/Vendor Management
  • Analytical Survey Module
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Technology Client Study


A customs brokerage client—an importer of branded athletic apparel and sports gear—wanted Vandegrift to manage their C-TPAT process, maintain a database of responses and provide analysis and feedback. The service provider they had been using could not provide the necessary analysis needed to make decisions on production and vendor selection. The importer needed a fully-automated system that would allow them to access information quickly and efficiently.


Could Vandegrift automate the C-TPAT data collection process and provide accessible analysis and feedback?

Vandegrift Solution

Vandegrift’s IT team designed an analytical survey tool capable of collecting responses to questions in any format as well as attachments regarding security floor plans, photographs and work records like time cards and sign-in sheets. The data is housed on the Vandegrift server where it is analyzed, evaluated and graded by the Vandegrift C-TPAT team. Based on answers received by factories, Vandegrift is able to automate a response to provide a passing or failing grade and then issue corrective action(s) as necessary to individual respondents. Milestones were built into responses for automatic follow-up to ensure that deadlines are met.

The analytical survey tool has been so successful in the C-TPAT implementation that Vandegrift has introduced it to other clients who use it to manage FTA programs and vendor audits.


At Vandegrift, we believe that every operational action  has a compliance-related outcome and that the two must be  coordinated in any successful international trade program. Compliance must serve operations and be factored into decisions about every aspect of a global business.

Vandegrift has a dedicated compliance team made up of  former Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials as well as individuals with backgrounds in customs brokerage, retail industries and law. Our team represents clients before CBP on a multitude of issues and acts as your third-party compliance department.

Strong compliance practices start with our services listed below.

List of Compliance Services:
  • HTS Line Reviews and Global Classification
  • Binding Rulings
  • Regulatory Research
  • C-TPAT
  • Compliance Manuals and Procedures Reviews
  • Focused Assessment Audit Assistance and Management
  • Importer Self-Assessment (ISA)
  • Trade Preference Eligibility Studies
  • Reconciliation
  • First Sale
  • Training Seminars/Webinars
  • Temporary and On-Site Staffing
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Compliance Client Study


The newly hired import manager of a very large party supply company approached Vandegrift with a problem—they needed to quickly classify the new season’s catalog. The company imports thousands of items in hundreds of categories, but neither they nor their service provider had the internal resources to handle the overwhelming classification task. In addition, the company was under a Process Improvement Plan as the result of inconsistent classification results during a CBP audit.


Could Vandegrift assist in classifying the large number of incoming items as well as audit the consistency of items previously imported within the same category?

Vandegrift Solution

Automation was vital in solving this challenge. Vandegrift’s IT team quickly devised a program to take in catalog data from the importer’s system, including descriptions, pictures and all other pertinent product information. All of the product information was housed in the Vandegrift’s database, managed through Vandegrift’s own global classification tool. There, the data could be manipulated, extracted and grouped by category.

Once the data was received and its integrity was tested and confirmed, Vandegrift’s compliance team set out to begin the classification process. Not only did the team group like categories of merchandise, they also handled bulk classifications. Bulk classification is a concept Vandegrift developed for non-subjective, straightforward items that are similar but for non-critical elements like color or, in some cases, size and shape. When used properly, bulk classification can save hours in repetitive and tedious classification work.

Within two weeks of implementation the Vandegrift compliance team had classified over 1500 items. The process has proven so successful that the importer has permanently outsourced this function to Vandegrift, freeing their own limited resources to focus on more immediate and pressing issues.

Global Logistics

Vandegrift builds customized transportation programs and individualized vendor management platforms using a combination of carrier contracts and advanced logistics technology. Multiple carrier relationships and concurrent tracking allow us to react to changes in timetables, capacity and other distribution variables to move cargo seamlessly and efficiently around the world.

List of Global Logistics Services:
  • Export Documentation
  • Ocean and Air Freight
  • Transportation Management
  • Warehousing and Distribution
  • Domestic Transportation
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Global Logistics Client Study


An importer of school sports uniforms came to Vandegrift with an urgent need for help. The company was about to lose $300,000 in CAFTA refunds due to mismanagement by a large law firm. Time was quickly running out to file an appeal with Customs and Border Protection (CBP).


Recover the refunds from the mishandled protests and ensure that future claims are understood by CBP.

Vandegrift Solution

With literally hundreds of documents in 20 binders, it was vital to communicate clearly with CBP. On site at the port, Vandegrift met face-to-face with CBP officials. Vandegrift mustered its experts, framed the issues, explained every document and linked each piece of information with its corresponding category on the entry. In doing so, Vandegrift successfully proved that the importer had indeed met CAFTA requirements and followed procedure. CBP approved all of the protest appeals, signed off on the importer’s CAFTA process and documentation, and refunded the total amount.

Vandegrift has since written a CAFTA and import compliance manual specifically for the client, who continues to file successful CBP-approved CAFTA entries.