US Customs Clearance Procedures

1. Reporting arrival of goods
All shipments entering the United States must be reported to US Customs at time of arrival for clearance. In most cases, the carrier reports the shipment to US Customs at the entry point into the United States. 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. 

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

3. Accounting for Duties and/or Taxes 
Your customs broker submits a final accounting package to US 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.


For further information on how MCH Brokerage can help you successfully manage your import requirements, contact us or request a free quote.

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