What is the USA Customs Clearance Process?

Icy Canada Team
Icy Canada TeamJuly 22, 2022
Updated 2023/07/26 at 11:25 PM
Customs Declaration Form Invoice Freight Parcel Concept.
Customs Declaration Form Invoice Freight Parcel Concept. Source: Depositphotos

For any cross-border trade transaction, the customs clearance process is important. Established companies hire professionals to regulate the process. But small companies may find it difficult to manage the whole thing.

In this article—we will focus on the customs clearance process and requirements while importing the products to the US.

What is customs clearance?

Customs clearance means preparing and submitting documents to get permission from the authority to facilitate movements of the cargo into and outside of the country.

Customs clearance is a necessary part of cargo shipping from one place to another across the world. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) controls the customs information process in the US.

The customs clearance process in the US

Importing goods in the US is simple and easy. Although, you need to follow some steps so that the shipment reaches securely and legally without charging any penalties or storage fees by the authority.

Arrangements at the CBP port of entry

Before you ship the products, keep in mind—that you have completed all the arrangements at the CBP port of entry. All the laws and regulations related to imports of the products are assessed here when your goods arrive at the CBP port of entry.

Declaration of the entry of merchandise

Once the products arrive in the United States, they may store in the warehouse at the port of arrival or transported in-bond to another port of entry under the same regulations.

The importers like an owner or the customs broker assigned by the owner arrange this in-bond transportation of the merchandise to the in-land ports.

Filing the product release

After the arrival and the declaration of the goods at the CBP port of entry, the importers have 15 days to file for cargo release. The storage period of the goods is around three to five days, after which storage service will be chargeable.

If delivering the products is urgent, importers should file the cargo release immediately. And fill out the entry summary and goods entry declaration forms and pay the estimated duties.

Filing the goods entry summary form

It is important to submit an entry summary form within ten days of the merchandise release from CBP custody. It is a document that contains the declaration of the importer and includes the origin, classification, and value of the imported product.

Paying duties

Paying the estimated duties on the imported goods is vital. Although, the final amount may vary upon the liquidation. Refunding is available if you pay extra for the goods.

Completing the entry documentation

Always check the entry documentation. It needs to be legally filed and complete.

De minimis level

Knowing the de minimis level is necessary before shipping the goods to the US. There is no need to go through customs clearance up to a certain value. It is US$ 800 in the United States.

Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS)

It is a ten-digit description code used for most world trade in goods. You should know the HTS codes of the imported products to make the clearance process easier. You can also take help from specific tools to locate the HTS codes of the imported items.

Documents require for customs clearance

For importing the goods, you need to arrange some important documents before processing,

Commercial invoice

A commercial invoice is required that involves the products’ details and their costs.

Packing list

It includes the content of the shipment and information regarding the supplier, buyer, and seller. The packing list also contains information like invoice number, shipment date, transportation mode, weight and quantity of the goods, types of packaging, and container numbers.

Certificate of origin

It contains the origin of the imported goods. It will help the authorities to decide if any special charge needs to be imposed or if the products are eligible for transport or not.

A Letter of Credit (LC)

It is a document issued by the bank. It states that if the buyer can not pay the balance for any reason, the bank is obliged to make the payment to the seller.

A Bill of Lading (BOL)

It is a letter from the carrier to the shipper containing the information regarding the type, quantity, and destination of the imported products.

Some other documents you need to produce to the customs officer are copies of the permits and memorandums.

And the cargo control documents for the goods, which is a unique ID attached to the goods, are provided by the freight forwarder for tracking the consignment easily by the customs authority.

Wrapping up

It is vital to import and export the products to their destination on the expected time regularly. And the customs clearance services help us with the whole shipment process safely and legally.

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