International shipping continues to grow as we become more reliant on online shopping and e-commerce. The internet has revolutionized how we shop and has caused customer expectations to hit all-time highs. People expect cheap goods, free shipping (or close to it), and fast delivery.
As the global shipping industry expands, processes and strategies are continually evolving. With the help of technology, logistics companies are faster and more efficient than ever.
However, with the increased traffic of international shipments, border protection must be even more vigilant. Importers and exporters can’t afford to neglect any aspect of the customs clearance process or risk timely delays, fines, or legal action. It’s vital that they approach the customs clearance process with the necessary organization and preparation.
What is the International Shipping Customs Clearance Process?
To import goods to a country legally, the merchandise must first clear customs at the point of entry.
The specific demands tend to vary from country to country. However, most places share some general requirements. Here is a look at some of the crucial aspects and how you should approach them.
Paperwork and Documentation
By law, all international shipments must have certain paperwork and documentation. A commercial invoice and bill of lading of two crucial examples.
A commercial invoice is a legal document provided by the seller to the importer in an international trade deal as proof of sale between both parties. The commercial invoice contains information on pricing, freight value, and the quantity of goods being sold. It is used to calculate duties and taxes.
A bill of lading (BoL) is a document of title and contains information relating to the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried. It must accompany a shipment and be signed at each step of the shipping process by the carrier, shipper, and receiver. From the country of origin to the end destination, the BoL has to be present.
Licenses and certificates also need to be provided to clear customs. Whether you need a certificate of origin, a packing list, or a license to import hazardous materials, ensure that you have the necessary paperwork and documentation.
Duties and Taxes
To pass import customs clearance, you must pay all necessary customs duties and taxes. These charges are dependent on the type of goods, their value, and the laws surrounding them in the importing country. The customs officer will check whether charges apply to your shipment and if they’ve been paid.
Duties can be paid in two ways: DDU (Delivered Duty Unpaid) and DDP (Delivered Duty Paid).
Goods marked as DDP have had taxes and duties prepaid. Shipments marked as DDU will require taxes and duties to be collected upon delivery. DDU can get very expensive as it can involve a range of different charges.
Where possible, you should ensure that you prepay duties. This will make for a much cheaper and smoother delivery process.
Correct Labeling and Packaging
All goods must be correctly categorized and labeled. The NMFTA (National Motor Freight Traffic Association) developed a freight classification guide to label shipments. This helps maintain consistent and fair freight rates and charges.
Mislabelling your freight can result in your shipment being delayed. You may also be fined or have legal action taken against you. Make sure contact information and labeling are clear and precise.
Suitable packaging is not only needed for keeping your merchandise safe during transit, but it is also a requirement for transporting certain types of goods. There are strict regulations surrounding the transportation of potentially hazardous materials. Find out what packaging you need and make sure your goods are safe and secure.
Consider Hiring a Customs Broker
Customs clearance is a complicated and time-consuming process. No matter what type of product you’re importing, there is a lot of work involved.
A customs broker is licensed by the government and has vast knowledge in customs regulations, the harmonized tariff, and import duties. They can guide you through the process, ensuring that you are covered from an administrative and legal standpoint.
This allows you to concentrate on the core aspects of your business, such as optimizing the supply chain and securing the best possible ocean freight rates.
If you require export customs clearance assistance, enquire about customs brokerage in the country you’re exporting to.
Customs Clearance Made Easy
Focusing on customs clearance is important for smooth importing and exporting. Organization and knowledge of the process are vital to avoid costly mistakes. Whether you become well-versed in international customs or hire a customs broker, it’s critical to have an expert on your side to handle the process.
For further information or advice from a world-class international shipping service, call Asiana USA today at (855) 500-1808.