Customs Clearance Services
Customs clearance is required for all goods imported into the United States whether by ocean, air, truck, or passenger baggage. The process of customs clearance is via the presentation of the customs 3461 Entry for the release of goods, and the 7501 customs entry summary which contains the calculated import duty and payment to CBP. In addition to the presentation of these documents to customs for the release of goods, the coordination of any x-ray or physical exams if indicated by customs will be required to be coordinated by the customs broker. Customs exams may be random, or targeted by customs for each shipment.
For ocean shipments the ISF Filing is required to be filed in accordance with ISF 10+2 regulations before the customs clearance for entry can be made. Importers are highly advised to have the ISF Filed before loading of vessel overseas. If your shipment is arrived to the U.S., the ISF is required to be filed in order to file and start the customs clearance. For air shipments, the customs broker can file the customs clearance for release of goods as soon as the airplane departs overseas. ISF is not required for air shipments.
What is a Formal Entry and when is it required?
If your goods are valued over $2,500 or subject to any other Partnered Government Agency clearance such as FDA, EPA or USDA. A formal entry is required to be filed with US Customs. A Formal Entry requires a customs bond in order to protect the financial interests of US Customs and to ensure the importer are meeting their obligations.
What is an Informal Entry and what are the benefits?
If your goods are valued at $2,500 or below, and does not require additional clearances from other government agencies such as FDA, USDA and EPA, and are not subject to anti-dumping / counter-veiling duties, then you can opt to file an informal entry. Informal entries offer lower costs on fees and does not require a customs bond. Often times informal entries are used for personal goods or small imports.
Informal Entry benefits
1. No need for US Customs Bond
2. Merchandise Processing Fee is $2.00, instead of $25 minimum or .3464% not to exceed $485.
3. Can be used for commercial and personal importations.
4. Liquidated at time of release
While a majority of goods under $2500 can filed as Informal, some trade sensitive goods such as textiles and quota items are exempted a lower value of $800.
Helpful FAQ links from US Customs: