Customs Clearance Stories from the Gallagher Archives. 

What happens when you import dirt?

We would like to warn you of a problem that can seem quite small but can become quite serious.

To you and me, dirt is a nuisance.  We have to be careful not to track it into our homes, and when we accidentally do track it in we must clean up our mess – but that usually isn’t too big of a deal.  Dirt happens.

Internationally, dirt is a big deal, and cleaning it up is an even bigger deal. Let me give you an example: we had a container of household goods that arrived in the port of Oakland, California destined for an inland city.  Before it could move, U.S. Customs in Oakland designated the shipment for an intensive exam.  The container was moved to an exam site.  A complete and thorough examination of the contents of the container was performed.

In the course of the exam, Customs found one pair of shoes that had dirt on the soles.  They put an immediate “hold” on the shipment and issued an Emergency Action Notice, requiring the dirt to be removed.  However, it is not as simple as running the shoes under a faucet!  Neither could the shoes be simply tossed into the garbage.  No — Customs required the shoes to be cleaned by a company that specializes in sterilizing the dirt and removing it.  Once the cleaning was completed, Customs signed the release allowing the container to move on to its inland destination.

The cost of this problem was extremely high.  Here are the costs incurred:

Intensive exam:          $1500.00

Sterile cleaning:         $  400.00

Container detention:  $  500.00

This made the pair of shoes in this container some of the most expensive shoes on record!

This could happen at any port of entry.  We encourage you to warn your shippers to ensure that no dirt is found on any of their products.  The most likely places where dirt can be found are:  shoes, vehicles, bicycles, toys, etc.  A word of caution could save a whole lot of expense in the future.