Overseas Customs Process

1. Understanding and meeting the regulations
When importing or exporting to or from overseas, it is important that you understand and abide by the trade rules and Customs regulations as they relate to your product.

2. Documention and compliance rules
Each country has a different set of rules and requirements for export reporting and import customs requirements and documention. Understanding the export requirements of the specific country the goods are being shipped from, and the import requirements & compliance for the country the goods are being shipped to, will make the process move forward quickly. 

3. Packaging & shipping your goods
Take time to carefully package and label your goods so that they arrive in good shape and without problems. 

Selecting the right method to move your goods 

Selecting the right shipping methods, or combination of shipping methods, is vital to getting your goods to market on time and at the right price.

Here are three common shipping options:

Ocean - ideal for shipping larger or bulk items or goods that do not require fast delivery. Shipping by ocean is very economical.

Air - airfreight is more expensive but it is quick and has better inventory control. 

Truck and Rail - both of these land-based services are effective moving goods when used with ocean and air export. 

Importing or Exporting to or from Overseas

1. Customs Regulations
2. Documention & Compliance
3. Packing & Shipping
4. Transportation Insurance
5. Freight Forwarding
6. Arrival & Release
7. Duties & Taxes
8. Transportation insurance

Having the right cargo insurance for international shipping is important. For ocean and air shipments you must have transportation insurance. International carriers assume only limited liability for goods when shipping by air or ocean. The terms of sale will most likely impact your liability. 

5. Choosing a freight forwarder
When importing or exporting to or from overseas, it is important to choose a professional freight forwarder who can help you with making the right decisions, and help you understand the conditions of transit. They can also help you with any specific documentation requirements and customs clearance. Most importantly, they get your goods to market on time and cost effective. Freight forwarders can handle all your logistical requirements and negotiate shipping rates, customs brokerage and insurance. 

MCH's Cargo Freight Services can provide you with the professional support and services you need to move your product to and from overseas markets. For more information simply send an email to: [email protected]

6. Reporting arrival of goods
All shipments entering must be reported to Customs at time of arrival for clearance. In most cases, the carrier reports the shipment to Customs at the entry point. The report may be submitted electronically or by a paper document. 

The most commonly used form is the Inward Cargo Manifest, which is prepared by the carrier. The carrier provides the importer's customs broker with a manifest that includes an identifier number and the customs invoice. The broker then submits the proper documentation to ensure proper clearance and accounting for the shipment. 

6a. Release
After making sure all of the required information is accurately filled out for release, the importer's customs broker submits a release package electronically or by paper to Customs. 

Depending on the carrier and port of arrival there are a number of different release procedures that can happen. Your customs broker works with the carrier and customs to ensure prompt and seamless release of your goods. The commercial invoice and Inward Cargo Manifest are used to support the release process.

Some goods may be subject to the requirements of other government departments and may require additional documentation such as licenses, certificates or permits (i.e.: for clothing and textiles, computers, electronics). Customs looks after these requirements at time of import. Your broker works with you to ensure the right documents are in place.

7. Accounting for Duties and/or Taxes
Your customs broker submits a final accounting package to Customs to pay any applicable duties and/or taxes. This is done after the shipment details are reviewed for compliance. The broker pays the applicable duty and/or taxes to US Customs on your behalf. If there are any compliance related issues, your customs broker will work with you and your supplier to correct these issues. 

For products that qualify under the terms of NAFTA, a properly completed NAFTA Certificate of Origin must be on file at time of accounting. This helps you take advantage of the preferred duty free status of qualifying goods.

Keep accurate books and records
As an importer or exporter, you must keep accurate records to verify the goods. You have to keep records in the US, in either paper or electronic format, for five years from the date of entry. Your customs broker will provide you with copies of the import transaction to support your records.

For information on how MCH Brokers can help you successfully manage your import or export requirements, receive a free quote .

Working with a Customs Broker
Consulting with a professional US customs broker ensures that you are compliant with customs regulations and accurately determines if your product qualifies under NAFTA. 

Establish an account with a US Customs Broker
Depending on the terms detailed in the purchase agreement with the purchaser, the seller might be responsible for the export of goods and, in many cases, is also responsible for the import process. 

Please note that it is the importer's responsibility to arrange for the commercial import process and account for applicable duty and/or taxes while ensuring compliance with customs regulations. 

A licensed US customs broker partners with you to act on your behalf, carrying out customs-related responsibilities. This ensures the compliance and quick release of your product through US Customs. 

Establish an account with Merchants Custom House Brokerage Co. Inc.

We provide free customs quotes to importers & exporters with current and upcoming shipments in need of importing or exporting services.