U.S. Customs

Tips for Speeding Your Way Through Customs

Imagine speeding your way through customs. Believe it or not, as unattainable as it may seem to travel your way through customs at a respectable speed—especially post 9-11, and especially for new businesses—with time, patience, and the help of a qualified customs broker, you’d be surprised how simple it can be to maintain the flow and the success of your business.


Here are five tips to help you get there:

  1. Do all the paperwork, and do it right. You don’t need an uncomplicated paperwork error to be the reason for your delay at customs. Minor errors can stall a shipment for up to a week. Accurate and comprehensive descriptions of every item in your shipment are also a good idea.
  2. Understand how tariffs affect your shipment. Obtain a confirmation of what’s in your shipment from US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) before it arrives. This will also confirm your product’s classification under the US Harmonized Tariff System (HTS). Finding the right HTS code can be complex; the Customs Rulings Online Search System is sometimes helpful if there are previous customs rulings on your code. If you’re not sure, an experienced customs broker can ensure you’re using the proper code.
  3. Have your Import Security Filing in hand. This disclosure document is required at the dock 24 hours minimum before loading a vessel with international cargo. It’s smart to plan ahead since loading sometimes happens multiple days before travel actually does.
  4. Get a certification. If your goods are regulated by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, you need to obtain a compliance certificate from them confirming that your product meets current safety standards.
  5. Do business with known entities. One way to assure officials at customs is to ensure your manufacturers are part of the Transportation Security Administration’s Known Shipper program. This makes your company familiar and can make for a smoother customs review process. Manufacturer participation in the even stricter Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism program advances this measure even further.
  6. Consult an expert. There’s no doubt that the rules of import-export have become incredibly complicated. Although DIY tracking software is out there, nothing can replace the expertise of a professional customs broker. Want some guidance navigating any of the above? Contact us today at ClearitUSA.