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When you hire a freight forwarder to assist with international shipments and import goods into the U.S., you need a company experienced in navigating imports from China. That means identifying common mistakes and knowing how to avoid them, saving you time and money.

Here are a few of the most common mistakes made by rookie freight forwarders in the industry:

Not Requesting Incoterms

If you hire a freight forwarder to organize your shipment, including the contract for sale, it’s essential the company understands and requests Incoterms. Incoterms, or International Commercial Terms, consist of three-letter terms that define each party’s responsibilities in a sales contract.

The International Chamber of Commerce publishes Incoterms to simplify conducting international commercial transactions. If you don’t specify the Incoterms or agree to the wrong ones, you could incur serious unplanned costs and shipping delays.

Mistakes made by freight forwarder

Failing to Provide Correct Export Documentation

One of the most common mistakes made by freight forwarding companies and importers is failing to provide correct and compliant export documentation to the border control authorities. This information is essential to customs clearance and the overall import process.

Required documentation includes a complete commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading or air waybill (depending on the method of transport), and a customs declaration.

If goods in your shipment are improperly identified, your cargo may be detained on import, making it impossible for you to deliver to customers on time.

Not Declaring the Correct Customs Value

Some freight forwarders don’t declare a customs value, leading to unforeseen fees. At Asiana USA, we consult customs brokers regarding the clearance process.

A customs broker can apply for a binding ruling to ensure predictability in import duties. Whether this is a cost-effective option depends on the volume and value of the freight you’ll be transporting.

Failing to List the Correct Country of Origin

When an importer or freight forwarder submits a customs declaration, it must note the correct Country of Origin (COO). This information is necessary to assess the cargo for import duty and determine the relative risk. If you don’t know the country of origin for your products, submitting an incorrect COO can result in severe fines and criminal penalties.

An experienced freight forwarder can secure a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determination regarding the country of origin if the COO is unknown.

Allowing Suppliers to Inspect for Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

If you’re an Amazon FBA seller based in the United States, consider having a freight forwarder conduct product inspections for you before organizing shipment to the U.S. Inspecting the goods yourself can be costly.

Failing to adhere to Amazon’s strict packaging and labeling requirements can adversely affect the status of your seller account. An experienced freight forwarder should take a proactive approach, ensuring quality control for the client before shipment from a Chinese factory or warehouse.

A freight forwarder with regional offices or local connections can also assist foreign clients with product sourcing.

Miscalculating Shipping Costs

Inexperienced freight forwarders may miscalculate the cost of shipping via sea. While sea freight is less expensive, on average, than air freight, this also depends on whether you use FCL or LCL.

In FCL or Full Container Load, the shipment occupies the entire intermodal shipping container. This can be a cost-effective shipping solution if your goods have the volume to justify it. If not, you’re paying for space you’re not using, which can be costly.

In LCL or Less than Container Load, your goods share container space with goods owned by other companies. If you’re shipping low-volume goods, this option is preferable.

Ensure your freight forwarder is familiar with these shipping options and selects the correct method for your goods’ quantity, so you get the best value for your money.

Not Accounting for Cultural or Language Differences

Freight forwarders who are new to the business or unfamiliar with certain regions may not account for language barriers or cultural differences. If your freight forwarder is importing goods from China on your behalf, they should be able to effectively communicate with local suppliers, even when you can’t.

They should also be aware of Chinese holidays and how they may impact the flow of goods. Operating with this knowledge allows you to avoid supply disruptions and fulfill orders on time.

Work with a Reliable Freight Forwarder

At Asiana USA, we’re committed to delivering the highest level of customer service and adhering to quality control standards. We maintain offices in China, Vietnam, Bangladesh, and the U.S., so we can access the expertise of our partners and colleagues in multiple regions and markets. We have years of experience providing freight-forwarding and logistics services to clients in the United States and across the globe.

We are aware of common mistakes that other freight forwarders make and how to avoid them. Give us a call at (855) 500-1808 for more information regarding our services and how we can help you import from China.

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