Import customs clearance process (complete guide)


When you receive a newspaper or magazine from outside the EU

You must declare each newspaper or magazine individually to Customs and pay the VAT due for it. Even if you have subscribed for the newspaper or magazine for a longer period, each newspaper or magazine issue included in the subscription must be declared separately.

In the service, select that you wish to declare “goods I’ve purchased”.

If your newspaper or magazine subscription started before 1 July 2021, you will only have to pay VAT for the newspapers or magazines that arrive after that date. You can calculate the value of a single newspaper or magazine issue by dividing the total price of the subscription with the number of issues included in it.

Example: The subscription period is 12 months, that is, 1 January–31 December 2021. The magazine is delivered once a month. The price of the subscription period is USD 80. Divide the price of the subscription period, USD 80, with the number of magazine issues. The price of an individual magazine issue is USD 6.67 (80 : 12 = 6.67).

On the page “Consignment details”, under “Value of the consignment without transport costs”, enter the price and currency of a single magazine issue.

On the page “Goods details”, enter “magazine” in the search field and select “magazines and comics”. Under “Price and currency”, enter the price and currency of the individual magazine issue.

Fill in the missing details and submit the declaration. You can pay the VAT straight away.

If an undeclared newspaper or magazine is delivered to you, be sure to submit the declaration afterwards.

Presenting Your Paperwork and Finally Clearing Your Goods

Once you have filled out your paperwork, you will be required to present it to the customs officials.

If your goods are being shipped via land, normally you would simply do this at the land border crossing they are going through. If they are being shipped via sea, you can normally submit the document to any official customs office, normally located at a point of entry.

In my province of British Columbia, Canada there are over 200 points of entry, many of which aren’t actual points of entry. Remember, international airports are points of entry. Simply Google “Customs office [your city/country]” and you should get a list from your government. For Canada and the USA these offices are:

  • Points of Entry, USA
  • Customs Offices Canada

Once customs officials approve your paperwork, you will have to pay them any outstanding duties. Most will not accept credit cards and many will only accept cash or cheque for payment (ask in advance).

Paying your duties is generally the last step before your goods are released to you. Once they are removed from bond, the customs officials use a mysterious red telephone to inform the warehouse/port holding your goods that they have been released by customs. You will then be free to pick up your goods, assuming the other criteria has been met such as paying your freight forwarder any outstanding balances and presenting an Original Bill of Lading.

Custom Broker Fees: Explained

When you hire a customs broker to facilitate your international shipment, you are paying for peace of mind.

What does that mean, exactly?

Brokers procure all the documents you need and assist in completing the paperwork so the custom clearance process proceeds smoothly. They help you navigate the alphabet soup of import and export codes and forms (including HTS codes and CF-28 or CF-29 forms), assist with valuation analysis and determining country of origin, and automate the process via electronic document and reporting systems like ACI, RLF, EDI, and ACE.

Customs brokers are also experts on trade agreements that offer beneficial duty and tax rates like the USMCA/ CUSMA (the new agreement replacing NAFTA for North American Trade) to help you take advantage of any opportunities these may offer, and what customs fees you can expect when shipping from Canada to U.S..

Though each customs broker usually specializes in servicing specific regions and may offer different rates, most calculate their fee based on the products, value, and point of origin. Fees generally include a customs clearance charge, inspection fees, and agency or bank transfer fees. When using a trucking company like CSA Transportation the cross border delivery service will include coordination with your designated customs broker to help cut down on your work.

Do I Need to Submit a Premarket Approval (PMA)?

The Premarket Approval (PMA) is another important part of the FDA customs clearance process when it comes to the Class III medical devices. It is the FDA process of scientific and regulatory review, to help ensure that those devices are safe and effective. Generally, Class III devices are those that support human life or sustain it, are considered important in preventing impairments to human health, and other products of that nature. All these products require a PMA.

When a PMA is Required

PMA requirements apply to all Class III medical devices. To determine whether your device is Class III, see above for more information. If you are at all unsure as to whether a device requires a PMA, you can use the three letter product code to search the Premarket Approval (PMA) database and the 510(k) Premarket Notification database.

It is also worth noting that sometimes a new device won’t be found in the product classification database. If the device is high risk (pertaining to maintaining or upholding human life) and has been found not to be substantially equivalent to an existing Class I, II or III device, then the device has to have a PMA before marketing in the US.

Paying Duty and Taxes on Your Product

Your HS Code will determine the rate of duty on your product.

As mentioned, each country sets their own individual rate of duty on items. This varies widely according to product and country, but for reference’s sake, for most of the products my company imports the rate is around 0-20%.

The second determination of how much duty you will pay is the country of origin for your product. Most countries fall under a somewhat misleading classification of Most Favored Nations (including China for most countries). These countries will all have the same duty rate applied.

Refer back to the HS classification for golf shoes. You’ll see it has three columns for the three classifications a country can fall under.

The exception to Most Favored Nations are countries that have other trade agreements (such as NAFTA in North America) or enemies, such as North Korea (in these cases, duty rates are often 100% or more).

Depending on the taxation system in your country, you may also be responsible for paying applicable taxes on this. Also depending on the taxation system, you may or may not be able to get these taxes back. For example, in my home country, I must pay 5% GST on all goods that I bring into Canada. However, I can claim back all of this GST at year’s end. In the United States, which has no federal tax, there is no tax payable.

Using Import Records to Find and Vet Suppliers and Snoop Competitors

One of the best things an importer can do is to use import records to help them find products to import and vet suppliers.

Jungle Scout allows you to see the real export history of nearly any Chinese Supplier.

As mentioned, in America, import and export records are public information, however, the government does not catalog or give easy access to this information. However, there are tools that do allow you to easily search this information, the most popular and cheapest being Jungle Scout (others include Import Genius and Panjiva).

These tools allow you to:

  • Find out what Chinese supplier a competitor is using (great for finding products)
  • See how much a supplier exports
  • Find out what suppliers export specific products

See our article A Secret Weapon for Doing Supplier Research

How can I find a customs broker?

The easiest option is to let your freight forwarder handle the customs clearance for you, a service for which you will need to pay a customs fee. Freight forwarders have licensed customs brokers all over the world to clear clients’ freight.

Even when working with a freight forwarder you can choose to engage your own customs broker. Remember that you will need a customs broker at the port of origin for export clearance and at the port of arrival for import clearance. You will also need to be aware that your freight forwarder won’t be liable for any additional costs that you might incur if the third-party customs broker causes any delays in the shipment process.

What Happens if Cargo is Not Cleared by Importer?

Once the cargo has arrived at the port of entry, the importer must clear it for release within 30 days. If the cargo is not cleared by the importer within that time frame, it will be considered unclaimed or abandoned cargo by the CBP. 

There are many reasons why cargo may go uncleared by the importer. There could be a disagreement between the shipper, importer, and consignee, or there might not be enough funds to complete the clearance process. If the cargo was damaged, there would also be little incentive to try to get it cleared and picked up. Regardless, customs has to get rid of the abandoned cargo in order to save space, money, and time. 

Once the 30 days are up and the importer or consignee has not come forward to claim the import, they lose the rights to the cargo. Customs then has the right to auction the cargo off, and use the sales to cover the costs incurred by storing and inspecting the abandoned cargo. 

If the cargo is unsellable because of some violation, the shipment could be re-exported back to its country of origin instead. If the cargo is damaged, customs will most likely destroy it completely or dispose of it in a landfill.

How long does it take to clear cargo at customs?

Forecasting the extent of the customs clearance procedure is problematic due to the great variety of systems and protocols globally. Typically, the import customs clearance can commence when goods are still in transit and prior to their arrival in the destination country, assuming that all the necessary documents are in place. Many nations offer online systems for submitting customs entries, permitting the authorities to release the goods in as little as 24 hours.

If customs authorities have questions, request additional documentation, or insist upon an inspection of the goods, the duration can be extended to a few days and even weeks. To avoid storage charges at the port or airport of arrival, it is important that the seller and buyer cooperate to provide the necessary documents.

Как переводится Arrive at destination country и когда появляется этот статус?

Arrive at destination country — статус переводится как “Прибыло в страну назначения” и говорит о том, что заказ пришел в вашу страну, по сути это импорт. Arrive at destination country сообщает о поступлении отправления в сортировочный пункт международного почтового обмена и подготовки для проведения таможенного контроля.

После этого статуса таможенной очисткой занимается национальный оператор связи страны назначения и будет с этого момента отвечать за доставку. Отслеживать свой заказ теперь можно на сайте своей почтовой службы.

Последовательность и формулировка статусов у каждой Почты свои. Например, так выглядит отслеживание Почтой России:

  • 11.11.2019 Прибыло в сортировочный центр Почта России (т.е. место международного почтового обмена)
  • 11.11.2019 Arrive at destination country (в переводе Прибыло в страну назначения — статус Aliexpress-Cainiao)
  • 11.11.2019 Почта России Прием на таможню Марушкинское, 102976
  • 11.11.2019 Aliexpress-Cainiao Import clearance start (в переводе Начата таможенная очистка)
  • 11.11.2019 Почта России Выпущено таможней Марушкинское, 102976

А так отслеживание Белпочты:

  • 01.11.2019 Arrive at destination country Aliexpress-Cainiao
  • 02.11.2019 Подготовлено для проведения таможенного контроля Белпочта /MINSK PI 2
  • 02.11.2019 Результат таможенного контроля: выпуск разрешен Таможня Минска/ MINSK PI 2

У доставки Cainiao Super Economy, Cainiao Expedited Economy, Cainiao Super Economy for Special Goods, China Post Ordinary Small Packet Plus и любой другой, которую нельзя отследить за пределами Китая, этот статус будет последним. Трек номер у таких отправлений начинаются на букву U (Unregistered).

В данной статье мы поговорим, что означает статус посылки на Алиэкспресс — Held by customs.

Итак, вот вы успешно выбрали товар и оплатили покупку. Остаётся теперь только ждать её с нетерпением и отслеживать, как она к вам едет. Этот самый длительный из всех, однако помните о крайнем сроке доставки. Если вы новый пользователь или вещь стоит очень дорого, то рекомендуется следить за перемещениями товара по всему его пути, чтобы не пришлось нервничать.

Статус посылки Held by customs на Алиэкспресс: перевод на русский язык, что означает

Посылки с Алиэкспресс

Во время слежения за заказом сменится множество разных статусов. Одним из них является «Held by Customs». Некоторые по неопытности переводят его как «Удержано таможней» и начинают переживать, что с товаром что-то не в порядке и он не придет. На самом деле все не так страшно как кажется. Давайте разберемся с этим вопросом.

В действительности, правильный перевод статуса звучит как «Передано таможне». То есть ваш товар находится на таможне и его досматривают.

После завершения процесса досмотра вы увидите в отслеживании следующий статус «Customs clearance processing complete». Это указывает на то, что досмотр и оформление на таможне пройдены и посылка пропущена в вашу страну, где её передадут почтовой службе для дальнейшей доставки.

Стоит заметить, что на Алиэкспресс есть и много других статусов посылок, о которых тоже стоит знать. Нажмите на любой интересующий вас статус и вы сможете узнать, что он означает:

  • Awaiting to be approved 
  • Started customs clearance process
  • Delivery failed
  • Received by line haul
  • Order information received by carrier
  • Released by customs
  • Acceptance
  • Undeliverable
  • Waiting for pick up
  • Returned to Sender
  • Hand over to airline
  • В пути – Покинула промежуточный пункт
  • Получено адресатом
  • Outbound clearance completed successfully and loaded to airline
  • Outbound in sorting center
  • Item received by shipper in Shenzhen
  • Leave the processing center and shipped
  • Arrive at transit country
  • Depart from transit country
  • Security check success
  • order has been cancelled
  • Export of international mail
  • Depart from original country
  • Arrived at destination country
  • Airline departure 

Видео: Покупки на Алиэкспресс. Как Отследить посылку из Китая?


Which are the necessary customs clearance documents?

There are five documents that the customs authorities are most likely to request. You will find an explanation of each of them below.

1. Commercial Invoice

The seller of the goods issues the commercial invoice to the buyer. It’s a legal document that serves as proof of sale between the two parties. When importing, the customs broker uses the commercial invoice to determine the true value of the goods and assess the duties and taxes due. Here are some of the details that customs authorities look for on commercial invoices:

  • Invoice number and date
  • Prices, quantities, descriptions, and HS codes of the products being sold
  • Information about the seller and buyer (incl. their tax identification numbers)
  • Agreed Incoterms

Customs authorities in some countries may allow pro forma invoices (preliminary invoices) to determine the import duties and taxes. Other countries may require a separate customs invoice, which essentially has the same information as a commercial invoice, but in a specified format. In any case, the customs broker can clarify what type of invoice is needed to clear your shipment.

2. Packing List

The packing list includes all details about the contents of a shipment and plays an important role in the shipping process. In addition to being used by the customs broker for the clearance, freight forwarders need the details to create a booking with a carrier and issue the bill of lading. Here are some of the details that usually appear on packing lists:

  • Information about the seller, buyer, and shipper
  • Invoice number
  • Date of shipment
  • Mode of transport
  • Information about the carrier
  • Description of the goods
  • Type of package (e.g., box, crate, drum, or carton)
  • Quantities
  • Dimensions
  • Total net and gross weights
  • Package marks (e.g., container and seal numbers)

3. Certificate of Origin

The certificate of origin declares in which country a material originated or a product was manufactured. The document typically contains information about the good itself, its destination, and the country of origin. It’s required in every case by some countries, and in others only for specific products. The certificate of origin helps determine whether your goods are eligible for import, subject to duties, and entitled to any preferential treatment.

There is no standard form for a certificate of origin. Generally, the exporter or the manufacturer prepares the document. It might require an official certification by an authorized third party, such as a chamber of commerce. We recommend that the exporter verifies with the buyer and/or an experienced freight forwarder whether a certificate of origin is required.

4. Letter of Credit or Other Payment Terms

A letter of credit is essentially a letter from a bank guaranteeing that the seller will receive his payment on time and for the correct amount. If the buyer is unable to pay, the bank will be required to cover the full or remaining amount of the purchase, hence protecting the seller.

While letters of credit are still widely used, other payment instruments are available:

  • Advance payment – The exporter will receive the payment via wire transfer or credit card prior to the delivery of the goods.
  • Open account – The goods are shipped and delivered before the payment is due, which is preferable for buyers but can be risky for shippers.
  • Documentary collection – A bank in the country of the importer will act on behalf of the shipper and collect the payment for the goods.

5. Bill of Lading or Airway Bill

The bill of lading is a legally binding document issued by a carrier to a shipper. It outlines details such as the type, quantity, and destination of the goods being carried. The bill of lading serves as a contract between the freight carrier and the shipper. It’s a document of title and can be transferred by endorsement. No matter the mode of transportation, this document must always accompany the shipped goods.

The term bill of lading is typically used for goods transported via sea. For air freight, the term airway bill is more common. Both documents serve the same purpose. When you transport your cargo with a freight forwarder like Shipa Freight, they will issue the bill of lading or airway bill to you.

6. Other customs clearance documents

Sometimes, customs authorities request other documents to complete the process.

For example:

  • Import and export licenses
  • Inspection certificates
  • Dangerous goods declarations
  • Permits

Your customs broker will inform you in due time if this is the case and provide further guidance. If you’d like to learn more about the different types of documents and see some examples, have a look at our documents list.

Common FDA Customs Clearance Mistakes

As with pretty much any process in the world of business, there is always going to be the possibility that you will make a mistake. These mistakes can generally be avoided, however, if you know what they are beforehand and you work hard to make sure you don’t fall into those traps. Let’s take a look at some of the most common types of FDA customs clearance mistakes, and how you might be able to avoid them in the future.

  • Submitting incorrect Affirmation of Compliance (AofC) information. This information is supposed to affirm that the product in question meets requirements specific to the product. Submitting the wrong information could delay screening and review significantly. A little extra care on the administrative side of things is all you need to avoid this error for yourself.
  • Submitting incorrect manufacturer information. This is probably the single most common error that is made during the FDA customs clearance process. The FDA requirement can often differ from the CBP one, so it’s easy to get them confused. This could mean that your shipment is held longer than strictly necessary for a further review. Again, ensuring that you take extra care will help to avoid this issue.
  • Submitting the incorrect product code. This is one of those simple, easy mistakes to make which can cost you dearly in time and money. An error in just one element of the code could mean that products end up in the country which do not adhere to the FDA’s rules and regulations. Slow down and triple-check the product code before submitting.
  • Submitting the incorrect quantity. The quantity is obviously important to know, as it ensures that there is the appropriate shipment amount each time. When submitting this information, be aware that basic format for quantity data is in multiple pairs of data. Get this right to avoid some very problematic waiting times for everyone involved.
  • Submitting the incorrect shipper information. The FDA needs to know the firm that is involved in the actual shipment, and if this is wrong then it could mean that there are huge delays in the shipment itself.
  • Submitting an inaccurate or incomplete description. This information should be aiding the FDA in checking an entry, and if it is wrong then it can cause confusion and delays, and could mean that non-FDA approved products end up circulating.
  • Submitting the incorrect device initial importer. As above, your product may be held for unnecessarily long if you fail to get this right, so extra care is required in order to avoid that issue.
  • Submitting the incorrect consignee. Without this, the FDA doesn’t have the right information on where in the US the shipment is going.
  • Incorrect grouping of line items. When this happens, a new entry may be required to ensure that the products are grouped into line as they should be. Make sure that you are fully aware of how they are meant to be grouped before attempting to provide this information.

As you can see, there are many problems and errors that can occur, and you need to make sure that you are doing everything you can to avoid those issues. One of the best ways to do that is to work with an experienced and knowledgeable customs broker, who can ensure that these mistakes are avoided in the first place.

Work with a specialist to make importing and exporting to the USA a hassle-free process.

Get the details you need with our import consulting services.

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Когда и почему появляется в отслеживании статус Принято перевозчиком?

Сообщение “Принято перевозчиком” (Accepted by carrier) показывает фактическую передачу заказа из магазина транспортной компании, которая дальше повезет его на склад Алиэкспресс. В отслеживании этот статус будет вторым или третьим, и появится в течение 1-3 дней после оплаты заказа. Ведь на оформление, подготовку, отправку и доставку заказа до склада у магазина всего 5 дней.

Для перевозок по Китаю торговая площадка пользуется услугами своих партнеров — китайских транспортных компаний, например Yanwen Logistic или 4PX Express. Они забирают заказы у продавцов и доставляют на склад Cainiao (логистической службы Алиэкспресс). Предварительно магазины регистрируют отправления в электронном виде в системе отслеживания того оператора, кому передадут заказ. Также Алиэкспресс это может делать сам, когда резервирует почтовый номер у Почты Китая или China Post ePacket.

Как пример, это будет выглядеть так:

10.10. Shipment information received
В переводе — Информация об отправлении принята. Так 4PX Express сообщает о дистанционной регистрации отправления;
10.10. Order information received by carrier
В переводе — Перевозчик принял информацию о заказе. Aliexpress-Cainiao дублирует первый статус 4PX Express;
14.10. Accepted by carrier
В переводе — Принято перевозчиком. То есть только через 4 дня произошла физическая передача заказа транспортному оператору Алиэкспресс — 4PX Express.

Если этого так и не произойдет — Aliexpress отменит отгрузку, тогда вместо него будет статус “Shipment cancelled”.

How Do I File ISF with U.S. Customs?

When submitting an ISF, most importers choose to utilize the assistance of a customs broker. The broker can access either the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) or the Vessel Automated Manifest System (AMS) to input the information and make any necessary modifications to the documents. 

You can, however, submit your ISF yourself, without the assistance of a customs broker. In order to do this, you must first make sure you have an Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) Secure Data Portal Account, which you can apply for on the CBP Website. Once you have an ACE account, you must register your Importer ID number with the CBP, by filling out the CBP Form 5106, or going in person to a U.S. port of entry. 

When everything is in order and you are deemed eligible for the ISF portal, you will be able to manually input your information into the ACE portal. However, importers can submit no more than 12 ISF forms in a single year this way. If you need to import more than that, a professional customs broker may be your only option.