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Shipping Power of Attorney: Everything You Need to Know


While many people are familiar with power of attorney (POA) in general legal terms, POA in shipping is a slightly different and more specific concept. Read on to learn everything you need to know about importing and exporting power of attorney documents necessary for clearing goods through US Customs.


What is a Shipping Power of Attorney (POA)?

In general terms, a power of attorney (POA) document allows someone to make legal decisions or filings on the behalf of the person granting the POA. When it comes to shipping, a POA is more specifically geared towards customs clearance and reporting.

In shipping, a POA is a legal document that grants customs brokers or authorized shipping agents the authority to process customs clearance or submit EEI (Electronic Export Information) on your behalf. Recipients of a POA must be United States residents who are given express and documented permission to act on the behalf of importers and exporters sending goods through US Customs.


When Do You Need to Sign an Import/Export POA?

A signed customs POA form (import) or export power of attorney form is required for your goods to be cleared through US Customs by a broker or an agent on your behalf. This means you will need to fill out an import/export POA whenever you utilize the services of a customs broker or an export agent. A signed POA allows brokers/agents to act on your behalf for filing and completing any necessary documentation for clearing and reporting goods through US Customs, as well as the US Census Bureau.

Most brokers will have their own import/export POA forms. However, a Customs Form 5291 or a document with similar language can be used as well.


What Information is Required on a POA Form? There are a few pieces of information that must be included on all customs POA forms. They are as follows:

  • IRS number, social security number, or customs-assigned number

  • Your full name

  • Your registered business’ name

  • The jurisdiction in which your business operates

  • An authorized signature


Since 1973, ClearFreight has been offering customs clearance services. While we have grown our service offerings since then, customs brokerage is still at the heart of ClearFreight. For more information about POA’s or any other questions regarding customs or your supply chain, contact one of our many licensed customs brokers today.

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