1. What documents do I need to prepare prior to the arrival of my cargo?
The documents will largely depend on your chosen mode of transportation for your cargo.
For sea cargo, you’ll need:
For air freight, you’ll need:
Before importing, you need a customs bond on file if your goods have a value of over $2,500. If it’s less than that, then you can opt to import under what’s classified as an “informal entry” which does not require a customs bond. However, this process would require you to submit paperwork manually. You do have an option to import under a “formal entry” classification even if your shipment is valued below $2,500, as long as you’re willing to get a customs bond.
A customs bond can be obtained from a customs broker. Brokerages can purchase bonds on your behalf. You can choose from two types of customs bond: single entry and continuous entry. Single entry bonds, as the name suggests, can be used one time only. Meanwhile, a continuous entry bond will cover all shipments within a period of one year.
You’ll need to provide your customs broker with your tax ID number, proof of identification, and a signed Power of Attorney so they can purchase a bond on your behalf.
These documents will need to be sent to the customs broker. For air shipments, customs clearances should be filed prior to the arrival of the goods in the US and after the plane has already flown. For sea/ocean shipments, you can file your entries up to five days before your goods arrive in the US.
Regardless of what mode of transportation you use, the documents need to be sent to the broker as soon as possible so that clearances can be obtained before your goods arrive.
Bonds are required for all imported goods for import security filings and entries. Again, this can be obtained from your customs broker. It usually takes around five days for a bond to be activated.
You’ll need to check the requirements of US agencies before you import. These agencies include:
Other considerations include import duties, which are calculated based on the value of the goods, processing fees, maintenance fees, and other charges.