Understanding the Customs Clearance Process

First time importers are new to the process and get frustrated when dealing with multiple vendors, their requirements and additional expenses, some of which are not even known to them. Sometimes, the expenses, due to the lack of their knowledge, becomes so high that few of the importers end up forfeiting their goods.

Process, by & large, has 3 main parties to be satisfied by meeting their formalities – Carrier, Customs & Port

Carrier, used to transport the goods into the country, has destination charges which has to be paid & it’s document (Bill of Lading, Air Waybill) has of to be surrendered to them by the importer (buyer/receiver).

Customs of the importing country, requires their documentation completed in order for them to approve the release of goods with or without examination and of course the dues such as Duty, Penalty fee etc are to be paid.

Port/Terminal (customs bonded) are assigned by the carrier to hold & store the shipments required to go through the clearance process. Their dues are to be paid in addition to getting them the releases of Carrier & Customs before they would let the receive pick a shipment.

Shipments by ocean requires the receiver/importer/buyer to submit original (endorsed) of Bills of Lading (BL) to the carrier. It is noticed that mostly this is overlooked by the shippers. We suggest options and help complete this process to our clients to save them time, expense and the delays it might cause.

ISF (Importer Security Filing) is USA customs requirement to be done 24hrs before the departure of the ocean shipment from the port at origin by the importer of record. If not done properly or timely, it may cause penalty, examination upon arrival at the destination port or additional documentation requirements by the customs. To comply, customs wants a bond on file to secure that the penalties, if any levied, will be paid. We arrange to do this timely & correctly with a nominal fee that every importer can afford and also may communicate directly with the shipper overseas to save time to our clients.

Customs clearance entries can be done electronically through ABI (Automated Broker Interface, soon be part of Automated Commercial System – ACS) except where customs require actual documents or due to the nature of cargo. To process, the client (Importer of Record) to be completed in customs system and all required shipping documents are required (copies are OK, unless originals are asked) before a proper classification can be done of the products using the HTSC (Harmonized Tariff System Codes). The duty/taxes etc are linked to the accurate HTSC codes and the shipper/client is recommended to provide us as they are the liable party.

Customs & related governing authorities (FDA, USDA, EPA, Fish & Wildlife Service, Alcohol & Tobacco, FCC, etc) have several type of examinations (i.e., VACIS, CET, MET, Tail Gate, POP & TAP, AQI, Extensive etc.) If any is designated by authorities, we assist & guide in expediting their process (for a nominal handling fee) and bring our client in direct contact of the officer incharge so the formalities can be completed to bring the final outcome before it gets too expensive due to the bonded storage, trucker & warehouse involved.

This is quite a process and there is a lot to organize and know before this all can be achieved to pick up the shipment on the day of arrival or before the storage starts. Our operations team is trained to handle all the aspects and that too with a very nominal charge making it worth for every client to utilize our services. You just need to follow to what is guided along with the process and make payments in time either directly or thru us to the parties.

After the process, there are still other services required such as trucking to client’s facility, Unloading, Storage, distribution, disposal etc for which we provide you the estimates for your approval to make it a door service.


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