Asia imports can create some unique operational and customs related challenges. We all know the deadline is usually “As soon as possible!”. Let’s focus on areas that can eliminate some of the painful issues associated with Asia imports.
No: Shipper Details
As simple as it sounds, understanding the exact origin point and who the proper contacts are, greatly impact the ability to begin a smooth import process. This can delay pickups and potentially cause customs nightmares in places like China. Complete shipper details allow the forwarder to make proper arrangements with appropriate equipment and initiate customs clearance as early as possible to ensure smooth transport and minimize delays.
Know: When the Product is Ready
Correct shipper details can usually overcome this issue. Often times, an importer will need a shipment imported immediately… only to find out that the product has not passed all of the export processing at origin, passed inspection, been prepped for shipping or the manufacturer is waiting for payment.
The average ocean transit time of 12-14 days from Asia to Long Beach is pretty impressive. Is the freight staying in Long Beach or is it moving somewhere inland? If the importer doesn’t have at least 2 weeks for the time on the water, they may want to consider airfreight. A 1-2 day delay in ready time could have a huge impact on cost and mode of transit!
Know: HTS Codes
What EXACTLY are you importing? What is it made of? What is it used for? Does it have multiple applications? The answers to these questions will lead you to your HTS code. What is an HTS code? A Harmonized Tariff code comes from an international standardized system of names and numbers that correspond with products that are traded globally. US customs requires that each importer is paying the appropriate duty rate that correlates with the proper commodity coming into the country. Nobody ever wants an unexpected increase in duties. At the same time, incorrect HTS codes will likely lead to unexpected customs delays.
Need help confirming your HTS codes? Consult the U.S. International Trade Commission website for more info: https://usitc.gov
No: Power of Attorney
If the importer doesn’t have a customs broker and doesn’t file a POA with their forwarder prior to the goods arriving, customs clearance can be delayed. If delayed too long, storage charges can occur which adds additional costs to an already delayed customs clearance experience.
Incoterms are an international set of standards that basically state which party is paying for what in an international transaction.
Once determined, the importer will understand what part of the transportation they’re responsible for. Ex Works? Is the importer paying for everything? FOB? Maybe the supplier is handling the origin movement up to the seaport?
All of this impacts the forwarder’s ability to be flexible and manage the transit times.
An incorrect Incoterm can cause customs clearance delays as well as incorrect billing to your client or their customer.
Know: The Purpose
Lastly, why is the importer bringing in this product? Is it for a conference or trade show? For retail sale? This will help when it comes time for the customs clearance process. It is always good for both the forwarder and importer of record to have good knowledge of the product and its use. This can expedite the clearance process and potentially save the importer on duties and taxes that might not need to be paid.
The ultimate goal is to streamline the import process.