Who Are Import Agents?
Import agents are essentially professionals who deal with import and export of goods. Their primary responsibilities include ensuring secured transportation of goods, making and collecting payments on behalf of customers and dealing with third parties.
Import agents or managers are technically the people who are liable for arranging the export and import of goods and also overseeing their delivery. They basically serve as intermediaries for individuals and organisations shipping goods to and from different geographical locations. They are charged with the responsibility to ensure safe and efficient transportation of goods by taking cost-effective measures into account. They must also arrange for the best transportation — be it road, rail, water or air — depending on the kind of goods and customers by researching the transport routes as well as special requirements.
Most import agents in UK generally work with a single customer at any time. They negotiate contracts for handling and transportation and take steps for making sure that the items to be shipped are packaged properly. They also prepare, obtain and inspect all required documents carefully to ensure that everything meets with standard regulations of the regulatory body. They even deal with third parties associated with an operation and collect and make payments for customers.
The working hours of import agents are generally odd. Those who work with international freight forwarding firms can be called in at any time, because these companies often operate 24/7. Their offices are normally located near railways, ports and airports in major cities and towns.
The job of an import agent involves effective communication with colleagues, clients and third party providers. Problem-solving, geographical knowledge, planning and organisational skills as well as ability to work in a team are a must. People working as import agents must always be on the lookout for details and execute all tasks accurately. They may also be required to know foreign languages and work within multicultural settings if they are being employed by larger companies. The salary of import agents usually depends on their qualifications as well as the amount of experience they have.
These agents generally have a bachelor’s degree in business administration, business management, political science, finance, international relations, economics or any other related field. Some may even possess a postgraduate degree in one or more of these disciplines, which is a plus point.
There are different titles for different import manager positions. Though these titles generally differ, the fundamental responsibilities associated with the positions are same, except for a handful of alterations made based on needs of an organisation. Some of the titles are freight manager, export/import specialist, freight forwarder, etc.