When shipping internationally, you don't always need a broker to manage this arrangement for you. You can prepare the right bills of lading and other import/export paperwork as required by your home country or the country to which you're shipping, and your goods may be allowed to cross the border without any issues. However, this isn't always the case and very often it's good to hire a customs broker to help you with this process. Note what their job entails and when it can be good to have them manage your international shipments, so you make the right decision for your business.
When shipping biological materials
Biological materials aren't just chemicals and medication; this can include foodstuffs of any sort, including items like coffee and tea. These items usually face the most regulations when shipping internationally, and these regulations are likely to change over time or be different for each country to which you ship. A customs broker will be current on those regulations and alert you to changes you might need to make for packaging, bills of lading, valuing the products, and so on.
When shipping hazardous materials
Any combustible product such as oil or petroleum will usually be considered hazardous; materials that pose a high fire risk such as carpeting or wood-based products might also be considered hazardous. As with foodstuffs and biological materials, these may also face a number of regulations that can change, and you may need to carry added or special insurance on these items or package them a particular way. It's easy to think that your product doesn't fall under the heading of hazardous materials, and this too is why it's good to have a customs broker who can note the materials from which it's made and if it would be considered hazardous by a freight forwarder or by customs.
The security of your product is very important as it travels, and a customs broker can assist. They can note improvements you might need to make in your transport methods in order to better secure your cargo, and also note special risks you might face during transit. This can mean potential damage caused by shipping by rail versus air shipments, or damage that might be caused by exposure to saltwater if you choose to ship by boat. Whatever your choices, a customs broker can work with you to help manage and improve the security of your transport so that your goods arrive safely.