In the shipping industries, many unplanned situations such as vessel delays, cargo vessel overtaken by Pirates, or got sunken to the ocean due to explosion on board. What can you do when these things happen? Nothing of course, all you can do is to pull out your hair, throw a fist, and yell “WHY ME!!!” We hope this casualty does not happen to anyone’s cargo, because it can be financially and emotionally burdening on whoever is taking care of it. Headache from such casualties, we do not have control of, but there are 3 things we can do to lessen our headaches and stress. Besides arranging the physical movements of your cargo from factory to you or your customer’s door, 3 things you should know or do before importing to the United States.

Knowing if merchandise requires any licensee to import into the United States or not. 

Possible negative Result: Delay Custom release, delay release to sell goods, delay release at port, possible demurrage and detention fees.

Due to patents and copy right issues on certain merchandise, a license or permit is not required by U.S. Custom particularly, but other agencies such as The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), or The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may require a permit, license, or other certification, depending on the commodity that is being imported. On a local and state level you may also need a license from local or state authorities to do business. Knowing what type of license or permit that will require can prevent any unnecessary demurrage and detention fees due to delay releases.

Correctly classifying your merchandise with the right HTS code for rating duty.

Possible Negative result: Delay in custom releases, delay release at port, and possible demurrage and detention fees.

Correct HTS to rate your duty for your merchandise will assure your cargo will be cleared faster with U.S. customs. For example, if you had imported machine made carpet, and later you had imported hand crafted carpet, you may think they are the same type of commodity under the same duty calculation, however hand crafted carpet has high rate of duty then machine made carpet.

If you believe your cargo should count towards a certain rate, you may request a written ruling from CBP for the proper HTSUS classification and rate of duty for your merchandise. Normally, U.S. custom will require a mailed in sample of your merchandise for them to review. Once they reviewed and approved your duty rate, then they will provide you with a formal Ruling letter which you can use as back up if any disputes you may come across for future imports. Doing this ahead instead of trying to clarifying with U.S. custom will result demurrage and detention fees if it does not get settle.

Making sure Importer Security Filing (ISF/”10+2”) is filed.

Negative result: possible penalty up to $5,000 per late filing to U.S. custom. 

ISF (10+2) had been effect since January 26, 2009, it is the importer of records responsibility and it is required to file 24-48 hours before departure from the last foreign port. Failure to follow this rule, your cargo may be taken to exam, increase inspection and delay on your cargo. As an importer, you must make sure that this is on file, no matter if your shipper or seller advised you they are handling from A to Z because ultimately it is the importer of record the U.S. custom come after if there are any penalties.

Making sure you have the right licensing or permit, having the correct HTS with custom ruling letter, and filing ISF on time will lessen your future headaches. Planning ahead is essential in preventing unplanned headaches.