In our previous logistics inSite, we provided insider tips and information to help navigate the sometimes-complicated world of international shipping. Here, we dive deeper into the world of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, specifically inspections.
The most important thing to remember regarding Customs is that inspections happen randomly. They can happen to anyone, at any time, and there is no way to determine if an inspection will take one day or two weeks.
Important Information About Inspections:
- There are three types of inspections, listed in order from least invasive and inexpensive to most elaborate and expensive:
- X-ray inspection: The container undergoes X-ray scanning to assess its contents;
- Physical inspection: The container is opened, the seal is broken, and the goods inside are physically inspected;
- Intensive Exam: If, after opening the container, Customs identifies something that necessitates further inspection, they transport the goods to a Customs Examination Station (CES) for a comprehensive examination. This type of inspection can be time-consuming.
- As the duration of the inspection cannot be predicted, the only way to ensure a delivery date to the end customer is to provide it once the container has been released from Customs and is in the carrier’s possession.
- If a shipment is stopped, the importer must pay all fees associated with the inspection. This includes fees for the inspection itself, for the drayage, and the carrier fee for holding the trailer while the container is in possession of customs.
- Drayage is a stocking fee to hold parts in a warehouse during the inspection.
How to Avoid Inspection:
- Avoid red flags: Get your paperwork in order, ensure it’s clear, and provide accurate valuations of your goods (such as quantity, price, and HTS codes).
- Work with an established partner: Use a transportation company that routinely manages international freight.
- Try to avoid condensing the shipment with another company. You don’t want to be penalized if the other company makes a mistake in its paperwork or process.
- Hire a broker (3rd party company) to present the documentation and get a Customs clearance 2-3 days before the arrival of the ship. This way, you can avoid inspection and won’t need to wait for Customs to clear the container when it arrives.