Importer Responsibility (Part 5 of a Series)

How did your last shipment go?

Did you experience any problems or delays?

Did you receive your shipment fast enough?

Perhaps you were wondering, “What are those Flegenheimer guys doing over there?”

Often times it is the perception of International Importers that; “Just having a Customs Broker, will automatically eliminate any delays in receiving my International Cargo.”

Honestly, we all know your Customs Transaction should require no more time than it takes for the International carrier/warehouse to have the cargo ready to deliver.

While that is always our goal, sometimes there are delays which are “outside of our control.” But the good news is that we CAN take specific actions that will limit the possibility of experiencing delays. As your Importing Resource, Flegenheimer International is committed to expediting your Customs Transactions which will help you receive your International Shipment as soon as possible. We have invested considerably in analyzing and establishing advanced operations to expedite International shipments through all Government Agencies. If you are experiencing problems or delays you may want to examine this abbreviated check-list taken from our previous Importer Responsibility Series 1 through 5. It is our hope that you will be able to recognize one or more areas for which you can create improvements in communication, increased velocity, avoidance of delays, prevention of fines and ultimately increased product turnover and higher profitability.

  • Pre-advice because of FDA Prior Notice & ISF; at least two to three days prior to shipping and follow through.
  • Timely documents at least 24-48 hours for Airfreight and at least 5 days for Ocean shipments and follow through.
  • Clear legible documents with complete information. Review your documents and follow through.
  • Permits, cites, forms, etc… Documents that other government agencies may require to release your shipment.
  • Do you have a Continuous Bond? If not, obtaining one may help your shipment clear faster. With a Continuous Bond some products may qualify for paperless entries. This means you could avoid filing hard copies of the entry to the customs office. However, even with a Continuous Bond there are some products that will never qualify for paperless entries. Ocean shipments filing ISF: If you do not have a Continuous Bond, ISF must be filed twice. Once with the bonding company and once with Customs. Finally having a Customs Bond may reduce the cost of your Customs Entry. We strongly advise our importers to obtain a Continuous bond.
  • Do you need cargo insurance? Protect your International Imports. Request a quote right now from Flegenheimer International.
  • Of course we are a 24/7 full service Customs Broker and Flegenheimer International can take care of your shipment even if you file late, but Customs and FDA are monitoring for things like proper filing of Prior Notice and ISF filing. By following these abbreviated steps you could possibly avoid additional scrutiny and/or penalties.

It is so important to follow these steps. We all know problems can arise and we have to be prepared. If you’re current operations don’t match up, now is the time to make changes. Time is money.

As an example we thought it may be time to give our customers a look into how the office/lobby at US Customs works, to kind of punctuate the importance of following the steps and being pro-active about your imports.

The Customs Experience can be a rather quick, or unexpectedly long and drawn out experience.

Here is the way it works out a lot of the time in sequence. “Hard goods” and “Perishable” entries are filled differently so “Hard goods” usually take more time to clear.

  • Air Freight Import Customs entries can’t be submitted until the plane has blocked.
  • When we arrive at the Customs office we enter a lobby where we take a number from a number machine.
  • Then we wait for our number to be called along with 2 to 15 other people, from couriers to people clearing their own personal effects to other Customs Brokers to airline representatives, all making Customs Transactions. We wait in order with all of them.
  • There may be one or two Officers working at any given time and because LAX is a training port, there may be Officers training.
  • It may take 10 to 20 minutes and sometimes longer for each transaction at the Customs counter.
  • We wait until our number is called and then we can submit our entries to the Customs Officer.
  • The Customs Officer takes our entries and starts processing them by inputting certain entry data into their computer system to match what we have transmitted and they review the documentation.
  • Sometimes the Customs Officer may need to ask us questions about our entry or check with other Government Agencies like UDSA or FDA.
  • On average it can take 20 minutes to an hour and depending on the time of day even longer to get our entries submitted, cleared and back to us.

Our many years of experience make it easy for us and that benefits you, the Importer.

So to avoid delays or additional scrutiny that can happen at the Customs Office, please review the Importer Responsibility Series to insure you are on the right track, the fast track, to clearing your International Imports.