Compliance, cost and control are three reasons customs clearance may soon be the purview of do-it-yourselfers. Recent advances in technology have made this previously unthinkable function — direct filing of customs entries — not just feasible but also attractive to small, midsize and large importers.
With some research and consideration, direct filing may be done with ease and provide significant benefits. Here are five reasons why now is an opportune time to consider filing your own import entries.
-- No one has more product knowledge than the importer. No one knows more about your product line, or the materials being imported, than you and your employees. If questions arise during the classification or entry process, your staff typically has easy access to specification sheets, schematic drawings, the merchant or buyer and lots of other detailed information about the imported product.
-- The importer is probably doing most of the work already. In most cases, the import transaction starts when you provide the essential entry data (such as tariff classification, value and origin) to the appointed broker. If that’s the case, the remaining data elements on the Customs entry document are elementary in nature (such as vessel name and import date) and can be entered with a few keystrokes.
-- Improved vendor and supplier interactions equal “reasonable care.” Direct filing puts the importer in closer touch with foreign vendors and suppliers. If a vendor’s documentation falls short of expectations or is incorrect, mistakes are caught faster and repaired sooner because the importer sees them right away. This leads to greater consistency of data and improved levels of compliance and helps you meet your importer’s responsibility to exercise reasonable care.
-- Greater consistency of data and flexibility in sourcing. Many direct-filing systems have a comprehensive parts database that keeps track of every item you import. This helps you manage and uniformly apply tariff classification, values, countries of origin, quantities and free trade agreement terms. As a result, your company is flexible and able to adapt quickly to new sourcing strategies. As soon as a source changes or is added, you simply add it to your parts database to direct-file the entry.
-- Improved supply-chain velocities. Direct filing gives you the ability to pre-file your entries with Customs and obtain clearance information up to five full days before the vessel arrives at the U.S. port. Assuming your consignment isn’t targeted by Customs for examination, pre-filed and pre-cleared shipments can be moved as soon as the vessel completes discharging. In some cases, you gain one or two full days from your transit time, resulting in greater efficiency and improved cash flow. JOC
This article was adapted from a JOC TENS report written by Leslie Levy August, secretary general of Trade Bridge International. For the full article, please see www.joc.com/2010/10-reasons-consider-direct-filing-customs-entries.