I want to import something; do I need a Customs Broker?
In some instances, and individual or company may be able to submit an informal entry with CBP on their own. This will depend on the value of the shipment and the commodity. In most cases, CBP will require that a formal entry be electronically submitted with proper classification, valuation and other government requirements. A U.S. Customs Broker will ensure that your entry complies with U.S. regulations thus eliminating potential inspections or fines.
What does a Customs Broker do?
As your Customs Broker, we will ensure that the information presented comply with all Customs regulations. Additionally, we will analyze if the commodities are subject to quotas or have requirements with other governmental agencies (OGA’s) such as FDA, USDA, DOT, etc. If the shipment is subject to duties, we will assess the correct duty rate (based on information provided by the Importer) to ensure that duty payment requirements are met with CBP.
When should I contact a Customs Broker?
Preferably, you should consult with your Customs Broker before purchasing merchandise to ensure its admissible and be aware of potential duties. At the very minimum, you should contact them prior to arrival of merchandise into the U.S..
What do I need to clear my shipment?
In order to prepare your customs entry, we will require the following documents:
Commercial Invoice – Preferably in English which will provide a complete description of the product(s), terms of sale, value and country of origin. The invoice should have complete information of the seller (shipper) and buyer (consignee) including their addresses.
Packing List - although not required, this document assists the broker and Customs in determining if the quantities and weight reported are correct.
Bill of Lading or Airway Bill - this transport document is usually supplied by your freight forwarder.
Country of Origin Certificate - If you are applying for a reduced tariff rate such as NAFTA or GSP, you will need to provide this form to assist with the application of such trade programs. The commercial invoice should also state the correct country of origin.
OGA’s – If your shipment is regulated by other government agencies, additional documents may be required to assist with the clearance. Please discuss this with your Customs Broker prior to importing to ensure that proper documentation is available.
Customs Bond - Per Customs regulations, all entries presented to CBP must be accompanied by a Customs Bond. If your company imports frequently, you may already have a continuous bond on file with CBP. If you do not have a customs bond, your broker can write a Single Entry Bond to satisfy the requirement. We will also discuss with you the volume of your shipments and their value to determine if a continuous bond would not be more beneficial to your organization in satisfying these requirements.
How long will it take for my shipment to clear Customs?
With the implementation of ACE (Automated Cargo Environment) the processing of Customs entries has greatly reduced delays. The time-frame will first depend that we have received your information and signed Power of Attorney form in order to register you with CBP. Additionally, we should receive the necessary documents pertaining to your shipment in order to make entry. Once we do, an entry will be transmitted and we usually receive a response from CBP within 24 hours or less. If you import on a regular basis, you can expect the processing time to be much less.
Great! How do I get started?
To get started, we will need your signed Power of Attorney and backup documentation that can be downloaded from our Documents page.