Customs Clearance Usa, 7 Steps to Customs Clearance

Customs Clearance Usa

7 Steps to Customs Clearance in the USA for Importers

Customs clearance is the process of obtaining permission from the authorities to import goods into a country. It involves complying with various rules and regulations, paying duties and taxes, and submitting the required documents. Customs clearance can be complex and time-consuming, especially for new or inexperienced importers. To help you navigate the customs clearance process in the USA, here are seven steps you should follow:

1. Identify the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code of your goods.

The HTS code is a 10-digit number that classifies your goods according to their type, origin, and value. It determines the duty rate and other requirements for your goods. You can find the HTS code of your goods using the online tool provided by the U.S. International Trade Commission (

2. Determine the value of your goods.

The value of your goods is the basis for calculating the duty and other fees you have to pay. There are different methods of valuing your goods, such as transaction value, deductive value, computed value, etc. The most common method is transaction value, which is the price paid or payable for the goods when sold for export to the USA. You have to declare the value of your goods on the commercial invoice and other documents.

3. Prepare the necessary documents for customs clearance.

The documents you need may vary depending on the type, value, and origin of your goods, but some of the common ones are:

  • Commercial invoice: A document that shows the seller, buyer, description, quantity, value, and terms of sale of the goods.
  • Packing list: A document that shows the details of how the goods are packed, such as weight, dimensions, marks, and numbers of each package.
  • Bill of lading (BOL) or air waybill (AWB): A document that shows the contract of carriage between the shipper and the carrier, as well as the details of the shipment, such as origin, destination, consignee, carrier, etc.
  • Arrival notice: A document that notifies the importer or their agent that the goods have arrived at the port of entry.
  • Customs bond: A guarantee that ensures that the importer will pay all duties and taxes and comply with all customs regulations. A customs bond is required for shipments valued over $2,500 or subject to other special requirements.

4. Choose a customs broker or handle customs clearance yourself.

A customs broker is a licensed professional who can act on your behalf to clear your goods through customs. They can help you with classification, valuation, documentation, filing entries, paying duties and fees, and resolving any issues that may arise during customs clearance. Hiring a customs broker can save you time and hassle, but it also comes with a cost. Alternatively, you can handle customs clearance yourself if you have the knowledge and experience to do so. You will need to obtain an importer number from the CBP ( and file your own entries using the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system (

5. Submit your entry and entry summary to CBP.

An entry is a declaration of your goods to CBP that allows them to inspect and release your goods. An entry summary is a detailed statement of your goods that shows the duty and fees you have to pay. You have to submit both documents electronically through ACE within 15 days of arrival of your goods at the port of entry. You also have to pay any duties and fees at this time.

6. Wait for CBP to examine and release your goods.

CBP may select your goods for examination based on various factors, such as risk assessment, random selection, or specific information. Examination may involve physical inspection, document review, or laboratory testing of your goods. If CBP finds any discrepancies or violations in your entry or entry summary, they may issue a notice of action (CF-29) that informs you of what actions you need to take to correct them. If CBP finds no issues with your entry or entry summary, they will release your goods for delivery.

7. Keep records of your import transactions for at least five years.

CBP may audit your import transactions at any time to verify their accuracy and compliance with customs laws and regulations. You have to keep records of all documents and information related to your import transactions for at least five years from the date of entry or entry summary. These records include invoices, receipts, contracts, correspondence, etc.

By following these seven steps, you can successfully clear your goods through customs in the USA and avoid any delays or penalties.

Customs Clearance USA: Trends and Statistics

The customs clearance industry in the USA is a vital part of the international trade system, as it ensures the compliance of imported goods with the U.S. laws and regulations, as well as the collection of duties, taxes and fees. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the federal agency responsible for enforcing trade laws and facilitating legitimate trade at the nation’s ports of entry. In this blog post, we will look at some of the recent trends and statistics related to the customs clearance industry in the USA, based on the data from CBP and other sources.

Trade Volume and Value

According to CBP, the total import value for goods in the USA reached $3.35 trillion in FY 2022, an increase of 19.6% from FY 2021 and 26.9% from FY 2020. The total number of entry summaries, which are documents that declare the value, classification and duty liability of imported goods, also increased to 39.1 million in FY 2022, up from 36.9 million in FY 2021 and 32.8 million in FY 2020. The total number of Section 321 bills of lading (BOLs), which are documents that allow for the duty-free entry of low-value shipments (less than $800) under the de minimis provision, decreased slightly to 685.1 million in FY 2022, down from 771.5 million in FY 2021 but still higher than 636 million in FY 2020.

The increase in trade volume and value reflects the recovery of the global economy from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the growing demand for e-commerce and online shopping. The customs clearance industry plays a key role in facilitating the smooth flow of goods across borders, while ensuring compliance with trade laws and regulations.

Trade Remedy Enforcement

One of the major challenges faced by the customs clearance industry is the enforcement of trade remedies, which are measures taken by the U.S. government to protect domestic industries from unfair trade practices by foreign competitors, such as dumping, subsidies, or surges in imports. Trade remedies include additional duties imposed on certain imported products under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 (safeguards), Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (national security), or Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 (unfair trade practices).

According to CBP, the total duties assessed on imported products subject to trade remedies reached $207.87 billion as of August 9, 2023, an increase of 121% from $93.8 billion in FY 2021 and 179% from $74.4 billion in FY 2020. The majority of these duties were assessed on products from China under Section 301 ($188.22 billion), followed by steel products under Section 232 ($12.72 billion), aluminum products under Section 232 ($3.79 billion), and solar panels under Section 201 ($3.14 billion).

The customs clearance industry is responsible for ensuring that importers pay the correct amount of duties on their shipments, as well as complying with other requirements such as filing exclusion requests, obtaining licenses or certificates, or providing additional information or documentation. The customs clearance industry also faces challenges such as delays, disruptions, or uncertainties caused by changes in trade policies or regulations.

Trade Enforcement Activities

Another important aspect of the customs clearance industry is the trade enforcement activities conducted by CBP to protect the U.S. public and businesses from unsafe products, intellectual property theft, and unfair trade practices. These activities include inspections, audits, investigations, seizures, penalties, and other actions taken by CBP to verify import compliance and accurate revenue collection.

According to CBP, some of the trade enforcement activities conducted in FY 2021 include:
  • Seizing more than 27,000 shipments containing goods that violated intellectual property rights (IPR), with an estimated value of $1.3 billion if they had been genuine.
  • Seizing more than 12 million counterfeit masks that violated trademarks or were not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • Seizing more than 178,000 FDA-prohibited COVID-19 test kits that were not authorized for use in the U.S.
  • Seizing more than 41,000 FDA-prohibited chloroquine tablets that were falsely marketed as treatments for COVID-19.
  • Issuing more than 1,300 Withhold Release Orders (WROs) to detain shipments suspected of being produced with forced labor.
  • Collecting more than $287 million in antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) through audits and investigations.

The customs clearance industry assists CBP in its trade enforcement activities by providing accurate and complete information on imported goods, as well as cooperating with CBP’s requests for additional information or documentation. The customs clearance industry also helps importers avoid potential violations or penalties by advising them on the best practices and compliance strategies for their shipments.

The customs clearance industry in the USA is a dynamic and complex sector that plays a vital role in the international trade system. The customs clearance industry faces various challenges and opportunities in the current trade environment, such as the enforcement of trade remedies, the protection of public health and safety, and the facilitation of legitimate trade. The customs clearance industry relies on data, technology, and expertise to provide efficient and effective services to importers and exporters, while ensuring compliance with trade laws and regulations.


Trade Statistics | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Stats and Summaries | U.S. Customs and Border Protection

DataWeb – United States International Trade Commission

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