Frequently Asked Questions:

What is a customs bond, and why do I need it as an importer?

A Customs bond is a contract between three parties: Customs, a principal/importer, and a surety. The bond is like an insurance policy. It ensures that all the duties and fees associated with importing with Customs and other government activities are paid to Customs by the principal. It is a requirement by CBP regulations 19 CFR 113, and the beneficiary is CBP. The minimum continuous bond is valued at $50,000 and covers your ISF declaration and Customs clearance. Have more questions or need a bond? Contact ACB, and we can assist you with obtaining your Customs Bond!

What is required when importing alcoholic beverages into the United States?

Here are some tips you should know before you ship. Alcoholic beverages fall under three agencies: Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, FDA, and CBP. You’ll need a special TTB permit, which you can apply online, or if you’re not computer savvy, print application and mail in. You should receive a response within six weeks. You will need to comply with labeling stating the country of origin, age of Alcohol, and a percentage per bottle. CBP will require a certificate of origin to determine various factors, including duty rates, duty preferences, violation of US Trade quotas, and sanctions against a specific country or product.

What is the excise tax?

 Internal taxes are levied on selling specific goods and services, such as Alcohol, fuel, and tobacco. An excise tax is an indirect tax that is not paid by the customers directly. Instead, it is imposed on the supplier or the producer, who then includes it in the product price. Federal, state, and local governments impose excise taxes. The taxes can either be applied as a percentage of a product or services’ total cost or services or a fixed amount. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to collect and pay the appropriate authority taxes. The tariffs are charged in two ways the percentage of the price or per unit. To do this, the owner must fill form 720, a quarterly federal excise tax return and list the products they’ve collected these excise taxes for, and report to the government.

What is IMO?

 The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations, a global setting authority for international shipping’s safety, security, and environmental performance. The IMO sets standards for the safety and security of international shipping. It oversees every aspect of the worldwide shipping regulations, including legal issues and shipping efficiencies. Their role is to create a level playing field so that ship operators cannot address their financial issues by simply cutting corners and compromising safety. By doing this, they are promoting innovation and efficiency. International shipping transports more than 80 percent of global trade to people and communities all over the world. Shipping is the most efficient and cost-effective method of international transportation. IMO measures cover all things international shipping from ship design, equipment, operation, and disposal.

What is an ISF?

 Also known as Importer Security filing or 10+2 is a document required by the CBP that documents importing information and details for security purposes, as shipments pass from point to point. Importers who do not file the ISF properly before the shipments sailing could face penalties of up to $5000.00. The ISF MUST be transmitted at least 24 hours before an ocean’s shipment departure to the United States. The ten items needed to file correctly will be Manufacturer, seller, buyer, Ship-to, Container Stuffing location, consolidator, consignee name, country of origin, and HTS code. You will need the name and address of each of the above parties mentioned. It is up to the importer and held against importers if this is not submitted to customs in a timely manner.

What is cargo insurance?

It is an all-risk cargo policy for marine, air, and ground transportation and is the broadest form of shipping insurance. An open cargo policy automatically ensures your company’s shipments on set terms, conditions, and rates without the need to contact your insurance brokers or transportation carriers each time that your cargo is moved. Unpredictable events like damage and loss delay can hurt your business and reputation, especially having your clients second guess if they will purchase from you again. While each plan varies in coverage, ocean freight insurance’s main point is to protect you and your company from suffering revenue. Let us guide you to choosing the best plan to cover your goods at a minimal cost. 

What is section 301 duty?

The US Trade Act of 1974 authorizes the President to take all appropriate action, including tariff-based and non-tariff-based retaliation, to obtain the removal of any act, policy, or practice of the foreign government that violates an international trade agreement or is unjustified. A Section 301 investigation determined that China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation are unreasonable and discriminatory. On January 15, 2020, the US and China signed a phase one economic and trade agreement. Under Phase one deal, the US suspended some tariff increases (List 4B) and will roll back others (List 4A) in return for what the White House calls “structural reforms and other changes to China’s economic and trade regime.” There are currently four active lists that range from 7.5% to 15% additional duty rates on products. Contact us to find out if your HTS Code is safe from these duties.

What is section 232 duty?

Trade expansion act of 1962 section 232 of the Act under certain circumstances allows the President to impose tariffs based on a recommendation from the US Secretary of Commerce if “an article is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair national security. Section 232 investigations focus on steel and aluminum, automobiles and auto parts, and uranium. Effective June 1, 2018, additional tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on steel and aluminum imports were imposed for almost all countries. As of May 20, 2019, these products from Mexico and Canada are excluded from the additional tariffs. The bureau of industry and security is seeking comments by July 10 on its administration to obtain exclusions from section 232 and quotas on imported steel and aluminum articles.

What is USMCA?

Effective July 1, 2020, The United States Mexico Canada Agreement will replace the NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement. The new agreement will create more balanced and reciprocal North American trade. The United States, Mexico, and Canada have reached an agreement to modernize the 25-year-old NAFTA into the 21st century. The USMCA will support mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in North America. Essential improvements in the agreement will enable food and agriculture to trade more fairly and expand exports and American agricultural products. All products that have zero tariffs under NAFTA will remain at zero under USMCA. The new agreement will create a more balanced environment for trade, support high paying jobs for Americans, and grow the North American economy.

What is freight forwarding?

A freight forwarder, forwarder, or forwarding agent, also known as a non-vessel operating common carrier, is a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals or corporations to get goods from manufacturer or producer to a market, customer, or final point of distribution. Forwarders contract with a carrier or often multiple carriers to move goods. Information is typically reviewed by a freight forwarder, including commercial invoice, shipper’s export declaration, bill of lading, and other documents required by the carrier or country of export, import, and/or transshipment. Freight forwarders utilize established relationships with carriers to negotiate the best possible price to move shippers’ goods along the most economical route and choose the best speed, cost, and reliability. 

What is NVOCC?

A non-vessel operating common carrier is an ocean carrier that transports goods under its house bill of lading or equivalent documentation without operating ocean transportation vessels. They do not have their ships; instead, they lease space from ocean carriers at a special price and sell the spaces to their customers.

Why do I need a customs broker?

Customs brokerage private individuals, partnerships, associations, or corporations licensed, regulated, and empowered by US Customs and CBP to assist importers and exporters in meeting federal requirements governing imports and exports. Traditionally imports rely on customs brokers to pull that information together and clear the goods through customs. But many importers are learning that it is only part of the story. Customs brokers are now helping importers leverage that information, transforming data into critical business intelligence. Customs brokers offer a growing range of specialized services to help importers develop new product lines, explore new markets, and evaluate global change’s impact on cutting costs.

What is a PGA?

A Partner Government Agency is a division of the US Federal Government that regulates specific products importer into the US along with CBP. Some OGA’s include Animal and Plant Health Inspection (APHIS), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF). Products that are regulated by PGA’s often require permits or other additional documentation, so many PGA’s have their import guides. It is the importer’s responsibility to be aware of what they need to import a product into the US. If a PGA refuses an import shipment, CBP will not allow the goods to enter US commerce.

Why is ecommerce (Import-Export) important?

As cross-border e-commerce takes a larger and larger share of global import-export trade every year, it appears to be demanding companies rethink, or at least review, their approaches to customer interactions. Multiple research reports suggest that participating in online purchases changes the way buyers perceive their entire customer experience, whether as consumer or business buyers. Changes can be felt most acutely in the retail sector, but the customer experience trend extends into all areas of cross-border e-commerce. Consumers want access to products from around the globe, and they expect fast hassle-free fulfillment. That expectation puts the weight of managing the logistical nuances of global trade regulations square on the shoulders of the seller. And getting it right matters quite a bit. That means import-export businesses that want a piece of the proverbial e-commerce pie need to nail down their behind-the-scenes processes to create a seamless customer experience regardless of whether their customer sits 50 or 5,000 miles away. Import-export trade businesses will also want to screen for any restricted items at the point of purchase. As products are moved on and off sanctioned party lists frequently, up-to-date alerts on compliance changes ensure products don’t get caught in Customs (and help businesses avoid the associated fines, too). E-Commerce is changing the way businesses operate, including with regard to customer experience. With consumer demand for a top-notch customer experience at an all-time high and the margins of profitability fairly slim, experts recommend businesses dealing in import-export trade work to maximize the efficiency of their fulfillment processes to remain competitive. Barcode is a machine-readable code in the form of a number and a pattern of parallel lines of varying widths, printed on and identifying a product. Barcode systems help businesses and organizations track products, prices, and stock levels for centralized management in computer software allowing for incredible productivity and efficiency. The lines and patterns on a barcode are representatives of numbers and data. Their development allowed basic information about a product to easily read by an optical scanning device, a barcode scanner, and automatically entered into a computer system. Barcodes come in many shapes and sizes and a wide range of designs, and many can even be read by mobile phones and other devices. Barcodes work through the combination of symbology and a scanner that can read the symbols and convert them into useful information, often information about an item’s origin, price, type, and location. The scanner reads the barcode and automatically enters the information stored in it into a system – often some database type. This tool has helped many businesses keep track of inventory and assets.

What is fulfillment?

Order fulfillment is, in the most general sense, the complete process from the point of sales inquiry to delivery of a product to the customer. It refers to the process of preparing and delivering a customer’s order. While catalog companies and larger operations typically are equipped to handle customer order fulfillment themselves, eCommerce companies and smaller businesses often hand over that aspect of the business to companies that specialize in fulfillment. Shipping a customer’s order often involves more than simply putting it in a box and dropping it off at the post office. Fulfillment companies take care of warehousing, producing or assembling the product, packing the order, labeling the order, shipping it using a major carrier, notifying the customer, and processing payment.

What is a 3PL?

Third-party logistics in logistics and supply chain management is an organization’s use of third-party businesses to outsource elements of its distribution, warehousing, and fulfillment services. Third-party logistics providers include freight forwarders, courier companies, and other companies integrating and offering subcontracted logistics and transportation services. By scaling and customizing services, 3PLs can best meet your specific needs. It’s always up to you just how much a 3PL helps with. A 3PL can provide a single service for your supply chain or deliver a bundle of services that extend across multiple aspects of your supply chain. These services work with you to provide visibility to all aspects of the supply chain. Additionally, leading 3PLs to create value in ways that enhance your operational, financial, and end customer performance.

What is consolidation?

Consolidated shipping is a shipping method where a consolidator combines individual LCL shipments from various shippers into one full container shipment. Participating in consolidated shipping earns the shipper preferred rates. When the full container shipment reaches its destination, the shipments are then deconsolidated into their original LCL shipments. Benefits of consolidated shipments include cost savings, reduced chance of damages, and speed to market. Some challenges include trouble finding a carrier, organization and planning, and time. Consolidated shipping is a way to get shipments to their destinations cheaply and efficiently. Shippers must understand the way consolidation works and consolidation options so that they can properly plan deliveries. An essential aspect of successful consolidated shipping is using a reliable consolidator with industry experience so you can be sure your shipments will be taken care of.

What is CTPAT?

Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism is a voluntary public-private sector partnership program that recognizes that CBP can provide the highest level of cargo security only through close cooperation with the international supply chain’s principle stakeholders importers, carriers, consolidators, licensed customs brokers, and manufacturers. When an entity joins CTPAT, an agreement is made to work with CBP to protect the supply chain, identify security gaps, and implement specific security measures and best practices. Applicants must address a broad range of security topics and present security profiles that list action plans to align security throughout the supply chain. CTPAT members are considered low risk and are therefore less likely to be examined at US ports of entry.

Why customs POA?

Power of Attorney is a general legal concept with applications beyond customs brokerage. You’ve likely heard of it in other contexts, such as personal finance or medical situations. Regardless of the situation, the principle is the same; legal authorization to act on your behalf, in whatever capacity you decide. Power of Attorney is required any time an importer works with a customs broker to clear goods, whether the importer is a resident or non-resident, an individual, or a business. There is no situation where you can legally work with a customs broker for importing in the United States without giving them Power of Attorney.

Once Power of Attorney is established, your customs broker can generally:

  • Endorse, sign, or declare requests for delivery, entry, or withdrawal;
  • Process any declaration, certificate, protest, bill of lading, or affidavit;
  • Collect drawback and duty refunds; and
  • Act as a grantor of any bond required for importing.

International Commercial Terms are a series of pre-defined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) relating to international commercial law. They are widely used in international commercial transactions or procurement processes, and their use is encouraged by trade councils, courts, and international lawyers. A series of three-letter trade terms related to common contractual sales practices, the Incoterms rules are intended primarily to communicate the tasks, costs, and risks associated with the global or international transportation and goods delivery. Incoterms informs sales contracts defining respective obligations, costs, and risk involved in delivering goods from the seller to the buyer. Still, they do themselves conclude a contract, determine the price payable, currency or credit terms, govern contract law, or define where title to goods transfers.

What is demurrage, detention, and per diem?

Demurrage is a charge applied to shipments left in a terminal after the allotted free time. While this may sound like a technical matter, demurrage poses a logistical challenge to shippers large and small and can prove expensive if not managed proactively. Detention: refers to the customer’s costs for using equipment beyond the given free time, typically outside of the terminal. It is charged when the carrier’s equipment is still used by the shipper or consignee beyond LFD, regardless of whether full or empty. Per diem (per day) is a detention fee where a fixed rate is charged per container per day until the equipment is returned to the port or container yard.

What are customs exams?

Whether you’re sending your ocean freight shipment via LCL or FCL, US Customs may decide to hold your container for inspection either at random or because it rouses suspicions. Types of US Customs inspection holds are Manifest hold, CET Hold, PGA/Commercial Enforcement Hold, and Statistical validation hold. When CBP tags your container for an inspection, they will conduct a customs exam to decide if they should confiscate or release the cargo. There are three types of customs exams: X-ray exam – container is scanned using an X-ray machine. The tailgate exam: the container is inspected at the pier. The intensive exam: the entire container is taken to a customs exam site (CES), where it is emptied to its contents by an authorized agent.

Does the FDA regulate my product?

FDA regulates a range of products. The FDA regulated $1 trillion worth of products a year. It ensures the safety of all food except for meat, poultry, and some egg products; ensures the safety and effectiveness of all drugs, biological products (including blood, vaccines, and tissues for transplantation), medical devices, and animal drugs and feed; and make sure that cosmetics and medical and consumer products that emit radiation do not harm. In general, FDA regulates foods, including a dietary supplement, drugs, including prescription drugs, biologics including vaccines for humans, medical devices including tongue depressors and bedpans, electronic products that give off radiation including microwave ovens, cosmetics including skin moisturizers and cleansers, veterinary products including pet food and tobacco products including cigarettes.

What is USDA?

The United States Department of Agriculture, also known as the Agriculture Department, is the US federal executive department responsible for developing and executing federal laws related to farming, forestry, rural economic development, and food. President Abraham Lincoln founded the USDA in 1862 when about half of all Americans lived on farms. USDA comprises 29 agencies and offices with nearly 100,000 employees who serve the American people at more than 4,500 locations across the country and abroad. USDA provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on public policy, the best available science, and effective management. The USDA is further tasked with administering several social welfare programs, including free school lunches, SNAP (food stamps), and WIC benefits.

What is parts database/HTS?

 The Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTS) sets out the tariff rates and statistical categories for all merchandise imported into the United States. The HTS is based on the international Harmonized System, which is the global system of nomenclature applied to most world trade in goods. The Commission publishes and maintains the HTS in its various forms and periodically makes recommendations to the President regarding modifications needed to keep the HTS consistent with international nomenclature. US Customs and Border Protection administers the HTS at US ports of entry and provides advice and rulings on matters relating to imports classification.

What is a port security fee?

A Port Security Fee is a charge that port authorities in North America have the right to issue to carriers to recover the costs of any expense related to security in and around the port. Dues on goods are put on all the goods that get loaded or unloaded from a vessel. They are also added to goods that are transferred between ships. The terminal handling charge (THC) is another port charge for containers you can’t get around. The THC is a fee for loading and discharging containers off vessels. Port charges vary from port to port. Let us tell you how much you’ll pay depending on your final port of discharge. 

What is bonded cargo?

Bonded Goods are imported shipments on which customs charges, including duties, taxes, and any penalties are still owing. Bonded goods are kept in a warehouse controlled by customs authorities, called a customs bonded warehouse. When a third party manages the bonded warehouse, importers must pay a customs bond in advance of import in the US.

Bonded goods are released only when the customs authorities have received payment in full. After a defined period, if the payment has not been made, US Customs destroys or otherwise disposes of the shipment products.

What are In-bond loads?

In simple terms, in-bond loads are those that are stored or transported through the United States but are not intended to be commercialized in that country, so they do not clear customs at the US border. In other words, the in-bonded shipment may be transported and stored in the United States without paying duties, taxes, or customs costs related to the import process. A bonded carrier must transport the in-bond cargo and, if applicable, be stored in a bonded warehouse in the United States.

If the shipment requires to be transported through two points within the United States to be exported to a different country, a Transportation and Exportation Bond or T & E is required.

When the shipment is transported between two entry points within the customs territory of the United States to enter the destination port, and Immediate Transportation Bond (IT) is required.

What is a bonded warehouse?

A bonded warehouse, or bond, is a building or other secured area in which dutiable goods may be stored, manipulated, or undergo manufacturing operations without payment of duty. It may be managed by the state or by private enterprise. In the latter case, a customs bond must be posted with the government. This system exists in all developed countries of the world. Upon entry of goods into the warehouse, the importer and warehouse proprietor incur liability under a bond. This liability is generally canceled when the goods are: exported; or deemed exported; withdrawn for supplies to a vessel or aircraft in international traffic; destroyed under Customs supervision; or withdrawn for consumption domestically after payment of duty.

What is FTZ?

Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ) are secure areas under the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervision that are generally considered outside CBP territory upon activation. Located in or near CBP ports of entry, they are the United States’ version of what is known internationally as free-trade zones. Foreign and domestic merchandise may be moved into zones for operations, not otherwise prohibited by law, including storage, exhibition, assembly, manufacturing, and processing. All zone activity is subject to public interest review. Foreign-trade zone sites are subject to the laws and regulations of the United States as well as those of the states and communities in which they are located.

What is a country of origin marking?

Country of origin represents the country or countries of manufacture, production, design, or brand origin where an article or product comes from. Think of it as where a product is born. On import/export shipments, a country of origin certificate is important for determining whether goods can be legally imported/exported. The purpose of marking is to inform the ultimate purchaser in the United States of the country in which the imported article was made. The marking must be legible and should be located in a conspicuous place. The best form of marking becomes a part of the article itself, such as branding, stenciling, stamping, printing, molding, and similar methods.

What is IPR?

Intellectual Property Rights – Refers to the legal rights granted to protect the creations of the intellect. There are many types of intellectual property. Some countries recognize more than others. The most well-known types are copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. The development and enforcement of IPR make it possible for the United States to continue being one of the world’s most innovative countries. American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs invented the microchip, created the Internet, invented the smartphone, started the biotechnology revolution, sent astronauts to the Moon, and saved millions of lives through innovative medicines. America’s creative artists — authors, musicians, film directors, and gamers — have captivated the imagination of people all over the world.

What is a certificate of origin, and is it always required?

A Certificate of Origin (CO) is an important international trade document that certifies that goods in a particular export shipment are wholly obtained, produced, manufactured, or processed in a particular country. They declare the ‘nationality’ of the product and also serve as a declaration by the exporter to satisfy customs or trade requirements. COs are requested by customs, banks, private stakeholders, and importers for several purposes. Almost every country in the world requires CO for customs clearance procedures: when determining the duty that will be assessed on the goods or, in some cases, whether the goods may be legally imported at all. Certificate of Origin is usually unnecessary unless otherwise indicated, particularly when the importing country is applying some trade remedies to certain products originating in certain countries.

What are trade agreements?

Trade Agreements can create opportunities for Americans and help to grow the US economy. They lay out the “rules of the road” for US companies looking to do business in markets worldwide by reducing barriers to US exports, protecting US interests, and enhancing the rule of law in trade agreement partner countries. There are many types of trade agreements, including:

  • World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements that set rules out governing trade among the WTO’s 154 members;
  • Free Trade Agreements (FTAs); the United States has 14 in force with 20 countries that build on the foundation of the WTO Agreement, providing even more protection and rights to US businesses; and
  • Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) help protect private investment develop market-oriented policies in partner countries, and promote US exports.
What are binding rulings, and why are they useful?

A binding ruling is a useful and often underutilized tool that enables importers and other interested parties to get merchandise classification decisions from CBP that are binding on all future shipments of the product. Importers use the code to determine the duties due to imported products. Requesting a binding ruling essentially asks Customs to say whether or not they agree with the classification the importer has chosen. And if Customs accepts the classification and provides a binding ruling for the product, every port of entry is required to honor that classification. Binding rulings provide uniformity across all entry ports and protect the importer from variations in interpretation from current and future CBP personnel.

What is AES/ITN?

The Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) is a symmetric block cipher chosen by the US government to protect classified information. AES is implemented in software and hardware throughout the world to encrypt sensitive data. It is essential for government computer security, cybersecurity, and electronic data protection. An ITN is essentially the passport for your export shipment. The ITN (Internal Transaction Number) is the number you receive confirming your Electronic Export Information (EEI) has been accepted in the Automated Export System (AES). AES Direct filers will receive an email with the ITN after acceptance. The ITN begins with an X and consists of the year, month, day of acceptance, and a 6-digit random number.

What is a duty drawback?

Duty Drawbacks is a monetary rebate on goods being imported into the United States through the US Customs. If these goods are exported afterward, importers, exporters, and manufacturers are eligible for duty drawbacks. Congress amended the duty drawback law in 1980 to allow for 99% of taxes, duties, and fees to be paid when imported merchandise is exported, or destroyed, within three years of entering the United States. The fundamental principle of international trade law and policy under which duties, taxes, and fees paid on imported merchandise is refunded upon the exportation of qualified articles. Duty drawback has been part of the United States’ international trade policy since the founding of the country, and the concept of drawback exists in the trade policies of nearly all developed nations.


Less-than-truckload shipping or less than load is the transportation of relatively small freight. The alternatives to LTL carriers are parcel carriers or full truckload carriers. Parcel carriers usually handle small packages and freight that can be broken down into units less than 150 pounds. LCL stands for less than a container load. Since LCL shipments fill less than a full shipping container, they are grouped with other cargo, which is why they are sometimes called groupage shipments. Shipping fewer goods more frequently mean spending less on inventory space. FCL (full container load) is an ocean shipment in which the cargo occupies a full container (of any size). An FCL shipment can be stuffed at the supplier and then trucked directly to the CY (container yard): The container can either be live unloaded at the destination, or the trucker can do a drop. FTL shipping stands for full truckload, meaning that the shipment will take up an entire truck by itself. FTL shipments are typically used when there are ten or more palettes that need to ship.

White glove, oversize, out of gauge… Is this trucking?

White glove services are the services offered in transportation management that go beyond the standard expectations for delivery. By definition, white-glove services refer to the handling of care used when moving products in which the movers or shippers wear white gloves to protect the product. Out of Gauge. Out of Gauge (OOG) loads are loads which dimensions are exceeding those of the container. The shipping companies charge an OOG surcharge for lost slots. After all, wherever goods protrude, no other containers can be loaded.

What are NMFC Class Types?

The National Motor Freight Traffic Association created a classification system for every type of freight. NMFC codes were born when regulators within the transportation industry realized there was a need for more effective standardization. The 18 freight classes are defined with a number between 50 and 500. These numbers become essential when shippers and carriers need to define tariffs associated with a given shipment and set shipping rates to be charged to the customer. Freight class is based on four primary factors density, storability, ease of handling, and liability. These factors define the freight class, which allows shippers to know what it will cost to move the freight. If shippers and carriers fail to determine a freight class or classify freight incorrectly, this can lead to extreme inefficiencies and even dangerous situations.

What are force majeure events?

A force majeure event refers to the occurrence of an event that is outside the reasonable control of a party and which prevents that party from performing its obligations under a contract. English common law has no general concept of force majeure (save for the limited doctrine of contractual frustration, which is addressed below). Therefore, a party’s ability to claim relief for a force majeure event depends upon the terms of the contract and the force majeure provision in particular. Force majeure provisions are express terms and will not ordinarily be implied into contracts governed by English law. A party affected by such an event of force majeure will typically be relieved from performing the obligation affected for the duration and the extent affected and entitled to compensation.

What is the purpose of a manifest confidentiality?

The manifest confidentiality request’s primary purpose is to keep your sensitive manifest information, including identifying marks and numbers, confidential or from being disclosed to the public for two years at a time. According to customs regulations, “The Freedom of Information Act, as amended (5 USC 552), provides for access to information and records developed or maintained by Federal Agencies”. US Customs and Border Protection is required to make available the following AMS manifest data elements to the public. There are two ways to file a request; you can download the letter provided on the CBP site and email to vessel manifest confidentiality email or hire a professional “ACB” so that we are able to help you on this request to protect your shipping information from other competitors.

What is antidumping / countervailing?

Anti-dumping and countervailing duties are intended to protect the US manufacturing industry from foreign manufacturers. Dumping occurs when foreign manufacturers sell goods in the US at less than fair value. Countervailing cases are when a foreign government provides enough subsidies and tax benefits for their manufacturers to sell their goods more cheaply than US manufacturers. Both situations, dumping and countervailing, lead to foreign undercutting of US manufacturers’ prices. Anti-dumping duties are calculated at a company-specific level, where the actual duty amount makes up for the gap between foreign manufacturing and fair market value. Countervailing duties are determined on a country-specific level, and the duty rates counteract the subsidy or foreign government assistance’s value to exactly level the playing field.

What is MPF/HMF?

The merchandise processing fee (MPF) is a fee imposed by US Customs and Border Protection to offset salaries and other expenses incurred in the processing of imports and release of merchandise into the United States. For formal entries, MPF is assessed on an ad valorem basis at 0.3464% of the entered value; minimum $26.79 USD, maximum $26.79 USD, maximum $519.76 USD. For informal entries merchandise less than $2500 USD, a flat MPF fee of $2.14 USD applies. The fee is paid at the time of import and is assessed on the customs entry along with any applicable duties/fees. The Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF) is a fee imposed by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for US imports shipped via ocean freight. It is charged at 0.125% of the value of the commercial cargo shipped through identified ports. The HMF is deposited into the Harbor Maintenance trust fund, which Congress may use to pay for harbor maintenance, development projects, and other related expenses.

What is PSC/Protest?

Submission of a PSC is the sole method for trade to electronically correct entry summaries before Liquidation. A PSC is essentially a new entry summary and will not be processed until it is fully paid. There is no limit to the number of PSC filings that can be transmitted for an entry summary within the timeframe allowed to submit a PSC. PSC’s that our team reviewed are not eligible for multiple PSC submissions. Accelerated Liquidation Request will be liquidated using the weekly liquidation cycle. Otherwise, PSCs will be liquidated using a 314-day cycle. Protest against customs service decisions provides the legal vehicle for importers and interested parties to administratively contest CBP decisions related to imported merchandise. With 180 days of Liquidation, the importer, their broker, or attorney can contest CP decisions relating to imported merchandise with a protest under section 514 of the Tariff Act of 1930. Protests and petitions are generally filed on CBP form 19.

What is liquidation?

Liquidation is the final tally of money owed to customs based on current knowledge of duty rates and the value of the imported goods. For the majority of imports, it is the final phase of importing. The final tally is determined based on the rate of duty that correlates with the HTSUS code of goods. At the time of entry, the importer pays the estimated duties for their goods based on the HTSUS codes. At the time of Liquidation, CBP assesses if this estimated amount was correct. If CBP concludes that a higher amount is owed than the amount paid, a supplemental duty bill will be issued for the amount still owed. If a lower amount was due, CBP would refund the difference back to the importer. If the duty refund or advancement is less than $20, Customs will not refund the amount or issue a supplemental duty bill.

What is hazmat?

Hazmat is an abbreviation for “hazardous materials” – substances in quantities or forms that may pose a reasonable risk to health, property, or the environment. Hazmat includes toxic chemicals, fuels, nuclear waste products, and biological, chemical, and radiological agents. Hazmat may be released as liquids, solids, gases, or a combination or form of all three, including dust, fumes, gas, vapor, mist, and smoke. Thousands of incidents occur each year in which Hazmat’s are released into the environment as a result of accidents or natural disasters. In addition to potentially harming people and the environment, spills in coastal waters may cause substantial marine transportation disruption with potential widespread economic impacts.

What is FIRMS code?

A Facilities Information and Resources Management System (FIRMS) code is a four-digit alphanumeric identifier assigned by CBP to container freight stations, warehouse deconsolidates, foreign trade zones, bonded warehouses, or any other US Customs service bonded facility. The FIRMS code represents the location of certain goods. The FIRMS location must be bonded on file in AMS. The FIRMS code is assigned to a location when the bond for that location has been filed with CBP. Firms’ codes are required on import paperwork, in-bond transit orders, and other customs documents.

How do tracking & tracing work?

In the distribution and logistics of many types of products, track and trace or tracking and tracing concerns a process of determining the current and past locations and other info of a unique item or property. Consumers can access web sites to trace the origins of their purchased products or find shipments’ status. Consumers can type a code found on an item into a search box at the tracing websites and view information. Tracking and tracing technologies are becoming more important, especially in sectors with high legal requirements and restrictions (pharmaceutical or food industries) or in transactions of high-value goods. They enable tracking all the relevant movements. In addition, these technologies play an important role in the logistics processes automation and optimization throughout the entire supply chain.

How to import for export (FDA)?

All FDA-regulated products imported into the United States are required to meet the same laws and regulations as domestic goods. Imported foods must be pure, wholesome, safe to eat and produced under sanitary conditions; drugs and devices must be safe and effective; cosmetics must be safe for their intended use and properly labeled; radiation-emitting devices must meet established standards; tobacco products must meet US requirements, and all products must contain informative and truthful labeling in English. The FDA is responsible for enforcing the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), including those provisions concerning FDA-regulated products exported from the United States. Foreign customers or foreign governments often ask firms exporting products from the US to supply a certification relating to products subject to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the Act), 21 USC §§321-397, and other statutes FDA administers.

How to import?

There are a lot of variables in the international shipping process. It is complicated, and there are many different parties involved, such as local truckers, customs brokers, steamship lines, freight forwarders, rail companies, and more. Communication barriers and cultural differences might present a problem. Rules and regulations can slow down your first shipments if you do not have the experience and knowledge to ensure that the process flows as smoothly as possible. There are some steps you should take before importing:

  • Decide the country
  • Search for suppliers
  • Search the duty and taxes
  • Find a reliable freight forwarder and customs broker (ACB)
  • Ship the goods on time
What are TSA and TSA pre checks?

On the morning of September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks in New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. The attacks resulted in the creating of the Transportation Security Administration, designed to prevent similar attacks in the future. Driven by a desire to help our nation, tens of thousands of people joined TSA. They committed themselves to strengthen our transportation systems while ensuring the freedom of movement for people and commerce. Keep moving with TSA precheck. Saves you time and stress. Perks of being a member, you’ll be amongst 10+ million members, wait 5 minutes or less, and have nationwide reach in other airports.

What are high-security seals?

High-Security Seals are one of three major classifications or categories of security seals and offer the greatest level of protection of any type of security seal. High-Security Seals are generally made of metal and are designed to provide a barrier to entry and indicate tampering. High-Security Seals must conform with standards used by the U.S. Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism and the World Customs Organization as the strongest seal type. Including both cable seals and bolt seals, High-Security Seals are also called “barrier seals, because they provide a barrier to entry. Because they are made from metal, they require special tools to be removed, including bolt cutters or cable cutters. Designed to prevent the theft of high-value goods as well as tampering and pilferage, High-Security Seals are ideal for use in protecting the contents of high valued goods. They can also be branded and marked for improved tamper resistance and tracking.

What is a TWIC?

The transportation worker identification is required by the maritime transportation security act for workers who need access to secure areas of the nation’s maritime facilities and vessels. TSA conducts a security threat assessment (background check) to determine a person’s eligibility and the issue’s the credential. US Citizens and immigrants in certain immigration categories may apply for credentials. Applicants must provide biographic and biometric information such as fingerprints, sit for a digital photograph, and successfully pass a security threat assessment.

What is a customs form 7501?

The entry summary, also known as the 7501 form, is a required document that needs to be filed with every entry of goods. One of the most important documents in this process is CBP form 7501, also known as the entry summary. CBP uses this form to determine relevant information regarding the imported commodity, including appraisement, classification, origin, etc. However, this form is typically completed and filed by a customs broker. It is a business’s best interest to understand and be familiar with the entry form. It is best to keep these forms on file for all past and current entries into the United States for at least five years.

What is EDI?

Electronic data interchange is the electronic interchange of business information using a standardized format. This process allows one company to send information to another company electronically rather than with paper. Business entities conducting business electronically are called trading partners. Many business documents can be exchanged using EDI, but the two most common are purchase orders and invoices. At a minimum, EDI replaces the mail preparation and handling associated with traditional business communication. EDI’s real power is that it standardizes the information communicated in business documents, which makes possible a “paperless” exchange. The process improvements that EDI offers are significant and can be dramatic.

What is an EIN/IRS?

An employer identification number is also known as a federal tax identification number and identifies a business entity. Generally, businesses need an EIN. The EIN is a nine-digit number assigned by the IRS. It’s used to identify the tax accounts of employers and certain others who have no employees. The IRS uses the number to identify taxpayers who are required to file various business tax returns. EIN’s are used by employers, sole proprietors, corporations, partnerships, non-profit associations, trusts, estates of decedents, government agencies, certain individuals, and other business entities. To ensure fair and equitable treatment for all taxpayers, the IRS limits EIN issuance to one per responsible party. The internal revenue service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The government agency is a bureau of the Department of Treasury. It is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, appointed to a five-year term by the President of the United States.

Do I need registration with customs?

CBP Form 5106 is used to identify the importer of records to US Customs & Border Protection. It is typically used by surety agents when filing a bond, customs brokers for a new client, or importers to establish or change their number or address. If an importer does not have an employer’s identification number (EIN) or Social Security Number, the form is used to assign a number. It is also used to establish and record a 2-digit suffix to the EIN to separately identify business units and unincorporated divisions of a corporation. Section 114 of the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA) called for CBP to “establish an importer of record program to assign and maintain importer of records numbers.” The revised form is now called the Create/Update Importer Identity Form, and it has two new mandatory data elements. These are an email address for the IOR, the type of address for its mailing, and, if applicable, its physical location address.

I am a foreign corporation. Can I import into the US?

If you do not have an entity or presence in the United States, and you want to import goods into the US, you need to be established as a Foreign Importer of Record. You ultimately need to import into the US to be established as a Foreign Importer of records. To do so, you will need a Customs Assigned importer of records number and a Customs Bond. Your Customs broker can help you obtain a Customs Assigned Number. You will be asked to provide a Customs Power of Attorney, a copy of your Articles of Incorporation, a copy of a document that empowers the officers with authority to sign the Power of Attorney, and scans or pictures of the ID.

What is an airway bill/bill of lading?

An AWB or air consignment note is a receipt issued by an international airline for goods and evidence of the carriage contract; it is a document of title to the goods. The airway bill is non-negotiable. The AWB is the most important document issued by a carrier either directly or through its authorized agent. It is a non-negotiable transport document that covers the transport of cargo from airport to airport. Airway bills have eleven-digit numbers that can be used to make bookings, check the delivery status, and current position of shipment. Bill of lading is a document issued by a carrier to acknowledge receipt of cargo for shipment. A bill of lading must be transferable and serves three main functions:

– it is a conclusive receipt, i.e., an acknowledgment that the goods have been loaded

– it contains or evidences the terms of the contract of carriage

– it serves as a document of title to the goods

What are transloading / cross dock / pick and pack / storage / labeling / warehouse services?

Transloading: The process of transferring a shipment from one mode of transportation to another. It is most commonly employed when one mode cannot be used for the entire trip, such as when goods must be shipped internationally from one inland point to another. 

Cross Dock: This is a practice in logistics of unloading materials from an incoming semi-trailer truck or railroad car and loading these materials directly into outbound trucks, trailers, or rail cars, with little or no storage in between.

Pick and Pack: A type of order fulfillment used most often by eCommerce retailers that receive small orders that are shipped around the globe. This process gives pick and pack workers easy access to items and saves handling time when organized correctly.

– Storage: This is the activity of storing products at warehouses and logistics centers. Its role is to provide a steady supply of goods to the market to fill the temporal gap between producers and consumers. It plays an important role in maintaining quality at warehouses and logistics centers and value products. 

Labeling: Display information about a product on its container, packaging, or the product itself. For several types of consumer and industrial products, the type and extent of information imparted by a label is governed by the relevant safety and shipping laws.

Warehouse Services: a building for storing goods. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs, et. They are usually large plain buildings in industrial parks on the outskirts of cities, towns, or villages. The six fundamental warehouse processes comprise receiving, put away, storage, picking, packing, and shipping.

What is an SWPM / fumigation certificate?

Solid wood packing material wood packing other than that comprises wholly of wood-based products such as plywood, particleboard, oriented strand board, veneer, wood, wool, etc., which has been created using glue, heat, pressure, or a combination of thereof. This includes pallets, crating, packing blocks, drums, cases, load board, pallet collars, skids, etc. The fumigation certificate, sometimes referred to as a pest-control certificate, is a document that serves as confirmation that any wooden packing materials (i.e., pallets) used in a cargo shipment have been fumigated. They contain details such as treatment purpose, fumigants used, and temperature range. Fumigation will eradicate all pests that have invaded and ensure that no pests will be sealed inside when ongoing exterior pest treatments are implemented.

What are ISPM 15 markings?

International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures No.15 was developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) that directly addresses the need to treat wood materials of a thickness greater than 6mm, used to ship products between countries. Its main purpose is to prevent international transport and spread disease and insects that could negatively affect plants or ecosystems. ISPM 15 affects all wood packaging material (pallets, crates, dunnage, etc.), requiring that they be debarked and then heat-treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and stamped or branded, with a mark of compliance. This mark of compliance is colloquially known as the “wheat stamp.” Products exempt from the ISPM 15 are made from an alternative material, like paper, plastic, or wood panel products.

What do I need to import vehicles?

Customs requires several documents before a car can be shipped into the US; you will be the shipper or carriers original bill of lading, a bill of sale for the vehicle, any foreign registration / original title, EPA Form 3520-1, DOT Form HS-7 and any other documents covering the vehicle. Duties vary based on the vehicle type; percentages are based on what you paid for the vehicle itself. Cars are charged 2.5%. Trucks are charged 25%, and motorcycles are free of duty or charged 2.4% depending on their cylinder sizes. Is your vehicle 25 years old? You’re in luck; it’s considered an “antique” and therefore subject to fewer requirements. If your car is younger than 25 years old, the process of importing can be a challenge to navigate. Hit us up for more info.

What do I need to export vehicles?

For vehicles exported by vessel or aircraft, the required documentation (Certificate of Title) and the vehicle must be presented to Customs at least 72 hours prior to export/vessel arrival at the port of loading. The purpose of requiring the documentation and the vehicle is so that CBP officers have the necessary time to physically examine the vehicle. Customs examines the submitted documentation and, if accepted, releases a stamp on the titles, which allows the vehicle to be exported. As part of the export, you must provide proof of ownership in the form of a manufacturer’s statement of origin or a private individual’s certificate of title.

What is an SLI?

Shipper Letter of Instructions: A letter from the exporter instructs the freight forwarder on how and where to handle the export shipment. The exporter is granting permission to the forwarder to act as the authorized forwarding agent for US export control and customs. The SLI contains all the information concerning the shipment from collection to delivery in one document, making it easier for a freight forwarder to process the shipment. When providing an SLI to the carrier, the shipper has a written confirmation that all specifications, requirements, and special needs concerning their cargo were passed on to the carrier. The exporter or shipper fills out or completes the SLI in advance in order to provide it to the freight forwarder.

What is intermodal transport?

Intermodal freight transport involves the transportation of freight in an intermodal container or vehicle, using multiple modes of transportation without any handling of the freight itself when changing modes. The method reduces cargo handling and improves security, reduces damage and loss, and allows freight to be transported faster. Reduced costs over road trucking are the key benefit for inter-continental use. This may be offset by reduced timings for road transport over shorter distances. Intermodal transportation is most suitable for intermediate and finished goods in load units of less than 25 tons.

What about warehouse withdrawals?

Physical deposit in a warehouse not needed. All or any part of the merchandise covered by an entry summary, Customs Form 7501, or its electronic equivalent, may be withdrawn for transportation without deposit in a bonded warehouse and may be permitted to remain on the vessel or other vehicle or on the pier in a constructive warehouse status pending examination. When any such merchandise not deposited in a warehouse is not forwarded under the withdrawal for transportation on account of damage or other cause, the importer shall be required to withdraw such merchandise immediately for consumption or exportation or designate a warehouse to which it may be sent and, upon his failure to do so, it shall be treated as unclaimed.

What is the Lacey Act?

Lacey Act is a conservation law in the United States that prohibits trade in wildlife, fish, and plants that have been illegally taken, possessed, transported, or sold. The Lacey Act combats trafficking in “illegal” wildlife, fish, and plants. The 2008 farm bill (the food conservation and energy act of 2008), effective May 22, 2008, amended the Lacey Act by expanding its protection to a border range of plants and plant products. The Lacey Act now, among other things, makes it unlawful to import certain plants and plant products without an import declaration. Today, the Lacey Act is used primarily to prevent the importation or spread of potentially dangerous non-native species.

What is a TSCA certificate?

The Toxic Substances Control Act places requirements on those importing chemicals into or exporting chemicals out of the United States’ customs territory. Importers must certify the imported chemicals whether they comply with TSCA (positive certification) or are not identified as excluded from TSCA and are not subject to TSCA (negative certification). Certain chemicals require no certification. Any person who exports or intends to export a chemical substance or mixture subject to certain TSCA regulations must notify the Agency. In turn, the EPA provides information about such exported chemicals and the EPA’s related regulatory actions to the importing government.

What is the EPA?

The Environment Protection Agency is an independent agency, specifically an independent executive agency, of the United States federal government protection. EPA’s mission is to protect health and the environment. 

-EPA works to ensure that Americans have clean air, land, and water. 

-National efforts to reduce environmental risks are based on the best available scientific information.

 -Federal laws protecting human health and the environment are administered and enforced fairly, effectively, and as Congress intended.

– Contaminated lands and toxic sites are cleaned up by potentially responsible parties and revitalized, and chemicals in the marketplace are reviewed for safety.

To accomplish this mission, EPA develops and enforces regulations.