What Is a Power of Attorney (POA) in Shipping Terms? 

In general, a Power of Attorney document is a legal document that transfers decision-making authority, and legally allows another party to make choices and filings on behalf of someone else. That’s no different in the freight forwarding industry. And more specifically, a POA in the freight forwarding world is used for customs clearance and reporting. 

In shipping terms, a POA is a legal document that shifts the customs clearance decision-making responsibility from importers and exporters to customs brokers or other authorized shipping agents. Recipients of a POA must be a US resident, and must be given express and documented permission to act on the behalf of importers and exporters sending goods through US customs. 

How Do You Get a POA for Shipping Needs? 

Obtaining a Power of Attorney in the shipping industry is not that difficult. For the most part, the majority of freight forwarding companies and customs brokers will be able to walk you through the process, what information you need to provide, and aid you in your quest for a POA. The cost of a POA varies depending on the freight forwarder or customs broker. But typically, the price of preparing a Power of Attorney shipping document is less than $200 USD. 

What Information Do You Need for a POA?  

Just like any other document you need to apply for, there are a few pieces of information that are required on all Power of Attorney shipping documents. These include: 

  • The importer’s or exporter’s full legal name, registered business name, and address
  • The business IRS number or customs-assigned number 
  • A declaration that the customs broker or shipping agent can act on behalf of the importer or exporter, and will be handling the customs business 
  • An authorized signature 

But Who Can Sign a POA? 

The authorized signature on a Power of Attorney shipping document must be a representative or officer of the business/company making the shipment. Of course, authority to sign is dependent on the company’s structure (individual, corporation, LLC, etc.). Special cases like European Union (EU) businesses importing into the United States require a secondary witness signature from another authorized personnel within the same company. 

Is a POA Required in Freight Forwarding? 

A Power of Attorney in the shipping world is not always mandatory. It’s only needed if you plan on delegating the responsibility of customs clearance and other miscellaneous administrative tasks to customs brokers or other shipping agents. It’s quite a convenient document, as a signed POA allows customs brokers and shipping agents to act on your behalf in filing and completing any necessary documentation for clearing and reporting goods through US Customs, as well as the US Census Bureau. 

Need Any Help? 

If you need any assistance regarding freight forwarding, contact SFI today and we’ll take care of your shipping needs. We have professionals ready to help smooth over any shipping problems you may have. Email us at info@sfi.com or call us at (909) 594-3400.