If you are importing goods from the USA, then this is an important post for you. Hopefully, this post can save you from dealing with importing mistakes that many customers face. Some of the mistakes mentioned here are identified by Custom and Border Protection (CBP). Having an understanding of these common mistakes and how to avoid them can help save you time and money.
1. Importing Mistake: Using Incorrect Customs Tariff Codes
The Harmonized Tariff Schedule is the basic way of determining tariff classification for goods traded in the United States. It is the basic step and a type of consent for importing goods. It’s a major importing mistake as using a wrong code can give an indication of any inappropriate or illegal item being imported. It also means you are paying more or less for the customs duties and taxes.
How can you determine your customs tariff codes? There are several ways although some are better than others:
• Lookup the tariff online
• Apply for a binding ruling from CBP
• Hire a customs broker to classify the items for you
• Determine it yourself
We want to stress that correct tariff classification is the most important aspect to importing goods. The cost involved in hiring a customs broker to correctly classify you goods is minuscule compared to what it will cost if they are classified incorrectly. And yes, as customs brokers we may be a little biased, but believe us that you don’t want to make a mistake on your tariff classifications. We’ve seen it cost people more than the value of their entire shipment!
2. Importing Mistake: Not Understanding Rules Of Origin Properly
There are fixed and standard rules of origin for all goods. When you are importing goods from any nation which has a trade agreement with the United States, such as the ‘’North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA),’’ they may be eliminated from this duty, or it may be reduced. However, for some, in order to qualify for preferential treatment using the FTA, there may be additional rules of origins required.
If you have a NAFTA certificate that lists the originating nation that can act as proof. However, as the importer of record, it is your responsibility that the NAFTA certificate is completed accurately.
3. Importing Mistake: Having an Incomplete or Incorrect marking for Country of Origin
Country of origin markings needs to be legible and permanent on your imported goods. Keep in mind that country of purchase may not be the same as country of origin. Reuse old boxes carefully and be sure to eliminate all previous marking and any other marks to ensure that the correct country of origin ‘markings’ are the only ones visible.
4. Importing Mistake: Not Declaring Proper Value of Imported Goods
Many people misunderstand U.S. Customs Valuation; therefore, pay close attention in declaring the proper and accurate value of imported goods to customs and remember to calculate any deductions or additions. At the time of entry you’ll need to support these adjustments with the proper documentation.
5. Importing Mistake: Declaring NON-US Goods as US Returned Goods
If you have U.S. made goods that you are importing back into the US, they can be excluded from duties by declaring them ‘’U.S. Goods Returned (USGR), if and only if they were made in the U.S! To claim Free Entry of Returned American Products you may be required to ask your US Vendor to provide an affidavit of manufacture.
Some Final Advice
If in doubt about whether your goods are NAFTA eligible, do not claim it. If you make any mistake and realize it after making a claim, inform CBP as soon as possible, to avoid any penalty. Honest importing mistakes do happen, so we suggest you discuss with your customs broker the steps to fix a discovered discrepancy. Same can be fixed easily while others may take longer.