Questions to ask to ensure Customs Clearance
When seeking customs clearance into the United States there are questions you should ask yourself in order to reduce problems and stress. They are:
- From what country do I intend to import?
- What types of goods and/or commodities am I importing?
- What transportation method (ocean, truck, rail) will I use to transport my goods into the United States?
- When do I need my goods to reach their final destination?
- What government agencies may be involved in the importation of my goods?
- What paperwork and documentation do I need to import into the United States?
- How do I plan on getting my product to the initial port (if necessary)?
- How do I plan on getting my product from destination port to final destination (if necessary)?
- Do I need special equipment to transport my goods (refrigeration, heavy axles due to weight, etc.)?
From what country do I intend to import?
When it comes to customs clearance, the country of origin can involve some critical factors. They include preferential treatment of product based on tariff agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). There may also be antidumping and countervailing duties you may need to pay. Trade sanctions limit trade between some countries such as North Korea, Syria, Cuba and Iran. Caution must be taken regarding how different government agencies classify ‘country of origin’. Also trade agreements may have specific definitions of ‘country of origin’.
What types of goods and/or commodities am I importing?
The type of goods you are importing affect a number of things, including proper and accurate Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding Systems (HS) classification of your product. If the classification is not accurate, your product could be delayed and fines could be levied against you. Duties paid, including anti-dumping duties are determined by the HS number. This classification also determines which if any government agency will be involved with the import process. For example, a food product could involve the Customs and Border Protection agency, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture.
What transportation method (ocean, truck, rail) will I use to transport my goods into the United States?
The transportation method is important in that some products may require special handling characteristics. There are over 300 official ports of entry into the US. Some ports are better suited for special containers such as refrigerated shipments, tall containers or heavy shipments. Our customs brokers will work with you to determine the best transportation method based on your requirements.
When do I need my goods to reach their final destination?
When you need the product will determine multiple factors including costs, transportation method, documentation requirements, and overall customer satisfaction. Accurate reporting practices and knowledge provided by our broker will reduce the chance for your product of being placed on hold or being detained for inspection and compliance purposes.
What government agencies may be involved in the importation of my goods?
Different government and regulatory agencies may be involved in the customs clearance of your shipment. These government agencies all use the ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) system, which is now required for all imports. Accurate input of information is critical in the ACE system to eliminate fines and additional delays.
What paperwork and documentation do I need to import into the United States?
Supporting documentation can be filed either individually or through a customs broker. Accompanying documentation must be in English and be provided with the ACE entry program. Examples of possible documentation includes end user certificates, country of origin certificates, hazardous materials certificates, etc. Depending on the product, additional documentation may be required by one of the following agencies: US Food and Drug Administration, US Department of Agriculture, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, US Drug Enforcement Agency, US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Customs and Border Protection Agency.
How do I plan on getting my product to the initial port and destination port and do I need special equipment to transport my goods (refrigeration, heavy axles due to weight, etc.)?
Our brokers work to reduce freight costs while making sure there are no problems that result from product movement whether they be ocean, truck or rail shipments. Restrictions such as refrigeration, over-weight loads, reduced highway clearances, and port workloads must all be considered when structuring the ideal transportation process.
Contact us with questions about Customs Clearance
There are many factors to consider when importing goods into the United States and obtaining customs clearance easily. The cost of making a mistake with documtation or filing far outweighs the cost of hiring a customs broker to help ensure the process goes smoothly. Gallagher Transport has over 25 years of expertise in importing goods into the US and we are always willing to help. Call or email anytime with your questions. 303-365-1000, firstname.lastname@example.org
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