7 Tips for USA Custom Clearance: A Guide for Importers
USA custom clearance is a process that every importer must go through when bringing goods into the United States. It involves complying with various laws and regulations, paying duties and taxes, and submitting documents to the customs authorities. If you want to avoid delays, fines, or seizures of your shipments, you need to know how to prepare for USA custom clearance and what to expect from it. Here are seven tips that can help you navigate this complex process smoothly and successfully.
1. Know the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code of your product
The HTS code is a 10-digit number that identifies the type, origin, and duty rate of your product. You can find it on the official website of the U.S. International Trade Commission (https://hts.usitc.gov/). Knowing the HTS code of your product will help you determine the applicable duty rate, quota restrictions, trade agreements, and other special requirements for your product.
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2. Obtain a customs bond
A customs bond is a type of insurance that guarantees that you will pay all the duties, taxes, and fees that are due to the U.S. government for your importation. You need a customs bond if the value of your shipment exceeds $2,500 or if your product is subject to other federal regulations, such as food, drugs, firearms, or textiles. You can obtain a customs bond from a licensed customs broker or a surety company.
3. Hire a customs broker
A customs broker is a professional who can help you with the USA custom clearance process. They can file the necessary paperwork, communicate with the customs authorities, arrange for transportation and warehousing, and handle any issues that may arise during the clearance process. Hiring a customs broker can save you time, money, and hassle, especially if you are new to importing or dealing with complex products.
4. Prepare the required documents
You need to provide several documents to the customs authorities for USA custom clearance. These include:
- Commercial invoice: This is a document that shows the details of your transaction, such as the seller, buyer, product description, quantity, price, terms of sale, and payment method.
- Packing list: This is a document that shows the contents of your shipment, such as the number of packages, weight, dimensions, marks, and numbers.
- Bill of lading: This is a document that shows the details of your transportation, such as the carrier, origin, destination, date of departure and arrival, and tracking number.
- Arrival notice: This is a document that shows the arrival of your shipment at the port of entry.
- Certificate of origin: This is a document that shows the origin of your product and its eligibility for preferential duty rates under trade agreements.
- Other documents: Depending on your product and its destination, you may need other documents such as permits, licenses, certificates, or declarations.
5. Pay the duties and taxes
Once your shipment arrives at the port of entry, you need to pay the duties and taxes that are due to the U.S. government. The amount of duties and taxes depends on several factors, such as the value, classification, origin, and use of your product. You can pay them online through the Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) system or by check or money order at the customs office.
6. Submit the entry summary
After paying the duties and taxes, you need to submit an entry summary to the customs authorities within 10 days of your shipment’s arrival. The entry summary is a document that summarizes all the information about your importation, such as the HTS code, value, duty rate, fees, taxes, and bond information. You can submit it electronically through the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) system or by paper at the customs office.
7. Receive the release of your shipment
Once you submit the entry summary and pay all the duties and taxes, you will receive a release notice from the customs authorities. This means that your shipment has been cleared by customs and is ready for delivery to your final destination.
USA custom clearance can be a daunting process for importers who are not familiar with it. However, by following these seven tips and working with a reliable customs broker, you can make it easier and faster for yourself and your business.
USA Custom Clearance: Trends and Challenges
The USA is one of the largest trading partners in the world, importing and exporting goods worth trillions of dollars every year. The process of customs clearance is essential for ensuring the compliance of imported goods with the US trade laws and regulations, as well as collecting duties, taxes, and fees. However, the customs clearance process also faces some challenges and changes due to various factors, such as trade remedies, tariff rates, classification systems, and security measures. In this article, we will provide an overview of the current state and future prospects of the USA custom clearance industry, based on some recent statistics and reports.
Trade Volume and Revenue Collection
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the total import value for goods in the fiscal year 2022 was $3.35 trillion, an increase of 19.6% from the previous year. The total entry summaries, which are documents that declare the value, classification, and duty status of imported goods, were 39.1 million, an increase of 6% from the previous year. The total 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, were 685.1 million, a decrease of 11.2% from the previous year. The total duty, taxes, and fees collected by CBP in the fiscal year 2022 were $111.8 billion, an increase of 19.2% from the previous year.
The increase in import value, entry summaries, and revenue collection can be attributed to several factors, such as the recovery of the global economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, the growth of e-commerce and online shopping, and the implementation of various trade remedies by the US government to protect domestic industries from unfair trade practices.
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Trade Remedy Enforcement
Trade remedies are measures that are taken by a country to counteract the adverse effects of imports that are deemed to be injurious or unfair to its domestic producers. Some of the trade remedies that have been implemented by the US government in recent years include:
- Section 201 duties on solar panels and washing machines, which were effective from February 7, 2018. These duties were imposed to protect the US solar and washing machine industries from serious injury caused by increased imports.
- Section 232 duties on aluminum and steel products, which were effective from March 23, 2018. These duties were imposed to protect the national security interests of the US from the threat posed by imported aluminum and steel products.
- Section 301 duties on China products, which were effective from July 6, 2018. These duties were imposed to address the unfair trade practices of China related to intellectual property rights, technology transfer, and innovation.
According to CBP, the total duties assessed on these imported products as of July 12, 2023 were:
- $3.13 billion for solar panels
- $3.77 billion for aluminum products
- $12.63 billion for steel products
- $185.79 billion for China products
These trade remedies have increased the cost of importing certain goods into the US, as well as created some challenges for the customs clearance process, such as:
- The need for accurate classification and valuation of imported goods to determine the applicable duty rate and amount
- The need for compliance with additional documentation and reporting requirements to prove eligibility for exemptions or exclusions from these duties
- The need for awareness of potential changes or updates in these trade remedy measures due to ongoing negotiations or disputes
Trade Enforcement Activities
CBP is responsible for enforcing nearly 500 US trade laws and regulations on behalf of 47 federal agencies, facilitating legitimate trade, collecting revenue, and protecting the US economy and its consumers from harmful imports and unfair trade practices. Some of the trade enforcement activities that CBP conducts include:
- Inspecting and examining imported goods at ports of entry to verify their compliance with safety, security, health, environmental, and other standards
- Auditing and reviewing importers’ records and transactions to ensure their accuracy and completeness
- Investigating and prosecuting cases of fraud, smuggling, counterfeiting, evasion, dumping, subsidies, and other violations
- Seizing and forfeiting illegal or prohibited goods
- Imposing civil or criminal penalties or sanctions on violators
- Collaborating with other government agencies and international partners to enhance trade enforcement capabilities and cooperation
According to CBP’s Trade Statistics report, some of the trade enforcement outcomes achieved by CBP in the fiscal year 2022 were:
- 31 thousand cargo examinations conducted
- 28 thousand seizures of counterfeit or pirated goods worth $1.5 billion
- 4 thousand seizures of prohibited or restricted goods worth $69 million
- 2 thousand seizures of goods subject to antidumping or countervailing duties worth $33 million
- 1 thousand seizures of goods infringing intellectual property rights worth $62 million
- 945 civil penalties issued worth $87 million
- 124 criminal arrests, 104 indictments, and 80 convictions related to trade violations
These trade enforcement activities have increased the efficiency and effectiveness of the customs clearance process, as well as deterred and prevented the entry of harmful or unfair imports into the US.
The USA custom clearance industry is a vital and dynamic sector that plays a key role in facilitating and regulating the trade of goods between the US and the rest of the world. The industry faces some challenges and changes due to various factors, such as trade remedies, tariff rates, classification systems, and security measures. However, the industry also demonstrates some achievements and opportunities due to its trade volume and revenue collection, trade remedy enforcement, and trade enforcement activities. The industry is expected to continue to evolve and adapt to the changing trade environment and demands in the future.
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