For people who are not intimately familiar with the international freight industry, it can appear to be dauntingly complex. After all, dabbling in international trade means dealing with a host of different entities, each of which has its own regulations and rules that you have to follow. And US customs are just one large piece in an ever-increasing puzzle.
However, understanding common US customs clearance issues and anticipating them is crucial for a successful global trading endeavor. That’s why we’re going to delve into some of them, and propose ways to of solving them.
If you want to deal with common US customs clearance issues, be prepared for customs exams. Naturally, you probably know that random checks at customs aren’t that rare of an event in the world of maritime shipping. And sure, only up to 10% of global shipments are inspected in reality. While that may be a small fraction of the overall volume of shipping; you need to be prepared. And that goes for any customs in the world, including the US.
Issues with US Customs Clearance
The first thing you need to understand regarding US customs clearance issues is – they are different in each country and port. So, some things you read about the priorities of Dutch customs won’t necessarily be true when the US is concerned. Generally, U.S. customs tend to have frequent random inspections.
Know that there are separate, country-specific inspections that they conduct, depending on what country your shipment is coming from. That’s the sort of information that importers regularly provide to freight forwarders. So, that sort of logistical information is important, as any misleading information can lead to long-term distrust; not a good thing for trading efforts. If complete information flows both ways, your freight transport will be a smooth process. And in the case of the contrary, you’ll be dealing with another issue: delays.
One of the most common US customs clearance issues is delays. And these happen precisely because of different exams and holds. These, in turn, lead to fees and charges that are a consequence of delays. Which can happen for an entire slate of different reasons. However, not all delay charges are the same. Generally, they are divided into per diem, detention, and demurrage. So, make sure you familiarize yourself with the terms, before negotiating with a shipping company.
When it comes to your shipping process, know that the original copy of your Bill of Lading is the most crucial document. And its misplacement is a surprisingly common problem that happens to shippers. If the Bill of Lading is missing, be sure that you will face issues regarding your shipment’s release. And that will result in additional delays. That’s why you need to be sure that the Bill of Lading will be carried through a channel you can rely on. That’s where the aforementioned trustworthiness comes into play.
If you’ve got a supplier with whom you have a fairly trusting relationship, you can opt for an Express Release or a Telex Release. Though, you may require more particular paperwork, depending on the type of cargo and the port of destination. Uncertainty and trade volatility is something that all shippers face; being familiar with all the details will go a long way towards reducing them to the minimum.
Missing Taxes and Duties
As we’ve mentioned just now, you may need some specific sort of paperwork, depending on where the shipment is going and the sort of cargo you’re shipping. And not abiding by this is one of the common US customs clearance issues, but you want to avoid that. After all, this additional paperwork is there to protect the interests of the country’s residents and the economy. Thus, some commodities may be forbidden, while others are allowed, but only with special permits.
To give an example – auto-shipments are among those which require specific documentation. Before the shipping is done, have a look at the HS Code of the cargo that you’re transporting. You may encounter extra taxes and duties in order to clear your shipment. So, if you want your shipment to go through smoothly, be certain that you have all of the particular documentation that all the different ports require.
Unfortunately, cargo damage is something that happens often in the world of shipping. That’s why you want to make sure your cargo is safely secured in its container at the port of origin. Statistics show that 90% of cargo damage actually happens due to improper storage and packing. Plus, bear in mind that the loading process in your origin point should be perfect. Take care of all the details, like remembering how many pallets you can actually fit into the container.
Because in reality, cargo damage rarely happens due to terminal or carrier mishandling. But if that does happen, do not forgo filing an insurance claim. And while doing that, take great care to go through all the proper procedures step by step, if you want to be certain that you will be compensated for the losses. Still, though; we recommend safely securing your cargo, and you won’t have to go through any of this.
Nathan Smith is a freelance author, mostly writing analyses of the maritime and air shipping industries. When he’s not writing about moving companies like Four Winds Saudi Arabia, he likes reading crime fiction and watching science fiction movies.