Customs Broker in Oakland Port
Guidance of US import process

Customs Broker in San Francisco Port
Clear Customs in Bay Area Customs Clearance
You, as an importer, should work with an experienced customs broker who can effectively navigate through U.S. Customs and governmental agencies. A highly experienced broker is desired to work with you through the entire process. The broker usually guides you on setting your importer record, evaluating product classification, assessing the regulation risk and governmental agency compliance, entry preparation, releasing of your goods, arranging the local pickup and delivery.  The broker usually helps you to pay the duty to US government. The broker helps to purchase the importer bonds in most cases.  Having a good and reliable customs broker will avoid the potential delay of the movement of your goods, reduce the risk of the regulation compliance,  improve your supply chain and profitability in a significant way.

Overall Import Process:

  • Setup importer record.  The import should setup the importer record with a customs broker by signing a POA(Power of Attorney) and providing the tax ID document (EIN letter or a copy of your personal SSN card)
  • Assess of the risk of product. Before placing a purchase order from your foreign vendor, it is always a good practice to verify the product with a licensed customs broker to assess the risk of importing such product into US.  Some products are subjected to FDA, USDA, FSIS, DOT and other governmental agency regulation.  Some products from certain countries are subjected to anti-dumping and countervailing duty. 
  • Ship the product.  US government requires the importer to file ISF (Importer Security Filing) at least 24 hours before the departure of the shipment. So the importer should work with the shipper to provide the ISF documents to the customs broker at least 2-3 days before shipping the product
  • Provide the shipment document to the customs broker.  
  • Customs clearance. The customs broker collects the requirement documents to clear the customs. U.S. Customs requires the importer to possess the Customs Bond for most of the formal entries to assure revenue to the U.S. government. A customs broker assists the importers in obtaining the Customs Bonds by offering single transaction bonds to companies which do not import on a regular basis and continuous bonds, which renew annually to companies who are importing regularly. Usually 3-5 days before or after the shipment arrives, the broker clears the shipment and send you release document
  • Pickup the shipment. After receiving the release document from the customs broker, you or customs broker can arrange the pickup of your shipment based on the release document and delivery order issued by customs broker.
  • Pay the duty. Most of the time, the customs broker pay the duty to US customs on your behalf. You just need to pay the duty along with other service fees to your broker. They will take care of payment afterwards. 

ABI Customs Broker in California

Paperless Documents
Most customs broker transmits Customs entry information electronically to U.S. Customs via ABI software. U.S. Customs responds with an immediate electronic message showing cargo release status.  As an importer, you need to provide following documents to your customs broker in a PDF format:

  • Power of Attorney
  • Tax id doc (EIN letter or SSN card copy)
  • ISF information
  • Commercial Invoice and Packing List
  • Bill of lading or Airway Bill
  • Arrival notice
  • If your product is regulated by government agencies, you need to provide extra documents from those agencies

Your customs will provide you the following documents to the importer:

  • Customs release document (CBP form 3461)
  • Delivery Order (you can use it to pickup)
  • Invoice including duty and payment to clearance service

Most importers are confused by various payments during the import process. Here are the common payments you need to make over the course of the importing a shipment.

  • Payment to your supplier. This includes product cost and part/whole shipping costs depending on your INCO term.  Some shipment is door-to-door service, you pay the full transportation service including the final delivery to your door. Most of the shipment is in CIF INCO term which means your payment to your supplier to cover the international transportation up to the destination port. It does not cover the local pickup and delivery cost after it arrives at the destination port.
  • Payment to the freight forwarder.  The freight forwarder is a middle man to help the shipper to locate a carrier to move the shipment. They charge for such service. Part of their service happens at the destination port. Upon the arrival of the shipment, the freight forwarder usually issues an arrival notice with some charge on it. The importer should pay the freight forwarder based on their arrival notice in timely manner in order to gain the release from the freight forwarder.
  • Payment to the warehouse at destination port.  For LCL (Less than full container load) and air shipment, the importer needs to pay the warehouse for the temporary storage. 
  • Payment for local pickup and delivery.  When you or your customs broker hire a local trucking company to pickup your shipment from the port and deliver to your door, they charge for such service. If your customs broker arranges it for you, you need to pay to your customs broker for such service. 

Worth of the note, some customs broker collect all above costs from importers, and pay to different parties on behalf of the importers. Some other customs broker would rather to have the importers to pay the different parties individually by themselves. 

Freight Forwarding in San Francisco and Oakland

Inbound Logistics
Depending on your INCO term, the exporter (or its agent) usually arranges the transportation from the foreign departure ports to U.S. ports. A good customs broker or freight forwarder will find the best truckers in the U.S. to arrange pick-up service from the arrival port, and deliver your product to the final inland destination with minimal delay. 

Any delay on the terminal for FCL(Full container) may cause $300 a day per container. The timely pickup is vital for the cost saving.  Even for LCL and Air shipment, the destination warehouse may charge significant amount beyond the certain number of free days. 

Your Importation Assistant
In this website, you will find full knowledge , useful documents, and links to help you understand U.S. laws and regulations regarding the importation process. It is our goal to educate our customers such that they are familiar with all U.S. laws and regulations, while providing the correct and complete documentation in the first place. It is absolutely key to have all required documents before and during the importation process. We are your business assistant.

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