Countdown to Black Friday: Two Tips to Help Ease the Customs Process
As consumers eagerly anticipate the Black Friday deals, shipments of the products they can’t wait to purchase are still making their way to store shelves. But before they get to retail locations, imported goods need to clear customs.
There is an increase in shipments by land, air, and sea leading up to the Black Friday shopping holiday. With that comes increased importance to make sure your customs broker is staffed accordingly and able to handle the surge in volume. What’s more, this is also the time of year that many folks begin taking longer stretches of time out of the office to spend time with friends and family, making it even more critical to stay on top of your supply chain plan.
Tip number one for importers: Talk to your customs broker sooner rather than later. Make sure your forecast for the weeks leading up to Black Friday is understood. In addition, ensure they have all of the information needed to make the entry as smooth as possible, especially if your commodity has new Participating Government Agency (PGA) requirements in the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). This is particularly important if you are importing a new commodity.
Tip number two for importers: If you are importing new commodities, make certain you have an assigned tariff number and understand all requirements that go along with importing that commodity. For example, you don’t want to be the importer who decides to bring in CD/DVD players at the last minute and then wonder why your broker needs U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) information and registration numbers. That little laser in the disc reader is all it takes for the FDA to govern that commodity.
Ben Bidwell is Director of U.S. Customs at C.H. Robinson. Ben joined C.H. Robinson in 2004 and became a Licensed Customs House Broker in 2007. Ben has consulted and resolved a wide range of Customs disputes for clients involving classification, country of origin, marking violations, seizures, and protests and for products ranging from hospitality goods, automobile tires, apparel and textiles, toys, and other consumer retail goods.
Editor’s note: As one of the United States’ biggest single shopping days of the year nears—and the unofficial start of the U.S. consumer holiday shopping season begins—we’ll be highlighting several areas of logistics that are integral in making Black Friday possible. The next in the series will appear on Sunday, November 20.
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