Customs Solutions FAQ

Customs Solutions FAQ

A Customs Broker is a highly trained import-export professional. Licensed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, the customs broker must possess a thorough knowledge of tariff schedules and Customs regulations, as well as keep abreast of the amendments made through constant changes in the law and administrative regulations.   A Customs Broker must be bonded and must file a bond with Customs as a requirement of being issued the Customs Brokers license. The Customs Broker’s license is applicable on a national basis.

Your Customs Broker handles the details of entering your merchandise into the United States and is involved with Customs and detailed federal regulations.    Brokers have familiarity with the regulations and have the experience to avoid many problems before the occur.   Brokers provide assistance to importers that includes preparing customs declarations, consulting, and providing direction and guidelines to ensure smooth and effortless import and export transactions.  The broker has to be involved and informed with partner agency standards such as the Department of Transportation (DOT) as regards their rules and regulations; the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on vehicle emission standards; and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on product safety to name a few.

The principal government entity that regulates imports is the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).   While CBP does not require an importer to have a license or permit to import goods from a foreign country, every item that crosses the border into the United States is subject to customs clearance, U.S. Import duties and other fees, unless specifically exempted.   Since 1997 CBP has been implementing a single window system to be the primary system for processing trade-related import and export data required by government agencies.  This pressures the import and export community to keep up with compliance activities.   Trade compliance will be the front line to collect and provide data to the government through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system.   Ultimately, our customers must be prepared for the effects on their manufacturing strategies, buy/sell contracts, consumer product safety, labeling, Customs Valuation and impacts on other government regulations.

For your Customs Broker to perform his or her job well, he or she requires the minimum of information that is enumerated below to prepare an entry.   However, a good Customs Broker will will be able to help you in a comprehensive manner when he of she understands your business model, contracts, and has a knowledge of your products.

  1. Commercial Invoice – Preferably in English, which describes the product, terms of sale, and the purchase price FOB origin port. If the product originates in a country other than the one you purchased from, the actual country of origin of the merchandise should appear somewhere on the invoice. The name of the seller and the buyer and the currency of the purchase should be clearly stated.  The invoices should provide as much information as possible.  This helps the broker to provide better service and to perform his or her services properly.
  2. Bill of lading or Air Waybill – This is the transport document that covers the movement from origin to the port of entry.
  3. Country of Origin Marking –  This is one of the most common problems encountered by Customs and Border Protection (CBP).   It can hold up your shipments and cause marking penalties.   All goods should be marked with the country of origin unless you have a specific legal exception.   A broker can help you to understand the term as it relates to U.S. Customs.   Marking requirements are clearly stated in the regulations and your broker can be a valuable asset in determining what you must do.
  4. Other regulatory agencies – The broker may be required to submit a partner agency information for your products.    This can delay your cargo as goods may be subject to approval by other agencies of the U.S. Government.   Some typical examples are: Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
  5. Trade Agreement Certificates of Value Statements – There are many Trade Agreements that help you pay a reduced duty rate or obtain other benefits.   Also, the value declared on your invoices may not be the complete or accurate value.   It is important to CBP that you report the correct values for your declarations.

A Customs Broker can also provide services as Trade Consultants to handle more serious issues such as General Compliance, Valuation, Special Programs, Trademark, and Trade Agreement matters.  Consulting a customs “expert” (e.g., an attorney, licensed customs broker, or a customs consultant) helps importers comply with “reasonable care” responsibilities mandated by CBP.

While the U.S. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection does not require an importer to have a license or permit, importers are required to post a bond. A bond is “a contract which is given to ensure the performance of an obligation of a law or regulation” When the bond is executed, the bond principal agrees to pay duties, taxes and charges in a timely manner, to make or complete entry, to produce documents and evidence, and to redeliver merchandise, etc.  In the case there is a breach of contract with CBP, they can collect liquidated damages up to the amount of the bond.

Unless exempt, all commercial goods imported into the U.S. are subject to customs duty and taxes. In order to determine the applicable duties and taxes payable, you must first determine their tariff classification. In addition to customs duty and taxes, some goods are also assessed in relation to other taxes, including excise duty, excise tax, countervailing duties and anti-dumping duties.

Changing customs brokers to use the services of TECMA Customs Solutions is fairly simple. You only have to provide us with a completed and signed Customs Power of Attorney, an Account information Sheet, and set up an account and make payment arrangements.   We are here to help you every step of the way.

TECMA Customs Solutions is an experienced service-driven and cross functional organization, that understands the import and export requirements from our customer’s viewpoint.   We are quality-oriented and strive to answer all of our customers’ calls and questions.   We have coast to coast coverage from Brownsville to San Diego.     We make our customers our priority.   Our extensive 35-year experience provides customers with the depth and the comfort of knowing that we can help them with any challenge.     We have a complete understanding of the supply chain, which adds value to our customer’s operations.

To comply with CBP’s laws and regulations, importers must understand the CBP’s overall compliance framework and how filing of documents with CBP to clear goods into the commerce of the United States fits within this structure.  CBP requires that importers exercise “Reasonable Care” in the process of filing and making declarations to CBP.    Determining whether the importer has exercised “Reasonable Care” is not always a straight forward proposition.   Customs and Border Protection places the burden on the importer to become informed and prepared to satisfy Customs demand for their declarations.  This link is provided for the purpose of providing more information;

https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2018-Mar/icprescare2017revision.pdf

The Wood Packing Material (WPM) final rule requires wood, such as pallets, crates, boxes, and dunnage used in international trade to support or brace cargo, be treated to prevent the introduction of insects that are harmful to U.S. agriculture and forests. WPM needs not be bark-free, treated, and marked with approved Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) stamps.

Shipments that arrive in the U.S., enter the U.S. under a bond, or are in-transit through the U.S. from foreign countries, must meet all conditions of the bond and adhere to all rules and regulations set forth under U.S. laws and regulations. If an in-bond shipment is found to contain violative WPM, then the party who is responsible for the merchandise under a bond will be issued an Emergency Action Notification (EAN). Upon receipt of the EAN, it is expected that expeditious action shall be taken to comply with the terms and conditions of the notification. In the event that the recipient is noncompliant with the EAN and there is a failure to export the WPM, then liquidated damages will be assessed.

Yes, there are many things to take into account with CBP and Homeland Security in their enforcement of regulations that are governed by all government agencies. Many different items can be prohibited from entering the USA, if they do not meet the necessary criteria.

Harmonized Tariff Classification is the ultimate responsibility of the Importer of Record, and it is expected by Customs that reasonable care will be used in carrying out this endeavor. There are potential consequences in reporting the incorrect tariff information to Customs, these include overpayments or underpayments of duty, potential penalties and interest charges, further scrutiny and delays of your shipments, and the possibility of full Customs audits.   TECMA Customs Solutions is available to assist you in the proper classification and reporting of your goods, with the appropriate technical information about your product.

The USMCA will replace the NAFTA on July 1, 2020.   There are several differences between the USMCA and the NAFTA.   Some of the main differences include;

  1. Certification can be completed by either, importer of record, exporter or producer.
  2. The NAFTA Certificate Form will be replaced by a “Certification Statement.”
  3. Sec 102 Marking rules are under review but expect “Substantial Transformation Guidelines.”
  4. NAFTA SPI Indicator eliminated and replaced with new USMCA
  5. The specific Rules of Origin have been modified for many products and industry sectors (Automotive, Chemical, Textiles, and Plastics)
  6. The de minimis rule increased the amount of non-originating content from 7% to 10%

Here are some helpful links for additional information: US CBP Implementation Guidelines:

https://www.cbp.gov/trade/priority-issues/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/USMCA

US CBP USMCA Center:

Contact: USMCA@CBP.DHS.gov

CANADA CBSA example for the USMCA Certificate:

https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/services/cusma-aceum/cog-com-eng.html