Frequently Asked Questions

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    Basic to the entire U.S. Customs clearance system is the invoice for the articles imported, issued by the foreign seller. There are specific requirements as to the content of an invoice, but these are not commonly known. An invoice that does not reflect basic information required by Customs can delay release of the shipment, cause errors in the assessment of duty and in some cases result in the assessment of liquidated damages and/or penalties.

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    A Licensed U.S. Customs Broker is a highly knowledgeable professional.
    Customs Brokers must possess thorough knowledge of tariff schedules and Customs Regulations and must keep abreast of the amendments made through constant changes in law and administrative regulations.

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    Importers Checklist & Guidance
    Use our checklist when sending, scanning or faxing documents to us. Please note that we will need all items listed before we can process your entry or help you. If you are missing anything, immediately contact the shipper or the forwarders local agent, which should appear on the Arrival Notice. Failure to do so may result in costly delays.

    Click (here) to access the checklist

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    Customs user fees (actually taxes - not Customs duties) were established by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. This legislation was expanded in 1986 to include a merchandise processing fee. Also in 1986, Congress enacted the Water Resources Development Act, which authorized the Customs Service to collect a harbor maintenance fee for the Army Corps of Engineers. Further legislation has extended the User Fee Program.

    The Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) is 0.21 percent ad valorem on formally-entered imported merchandise (generally entries valued over $2,000), subject to a minimum fee of $25 per entry and a maximum fee of $485 per entry of the Net Entered Value. The Harbor Maintenence Fee (HMF) is assessed against ocean arrivals only. The rate is 0.125% of the Net Entered Value with no minumum or maximum.

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    The short answer is to protect the revenue of the government and guarantee the importers perfomrance and compliance with all Customs laws and regulations. Following is a more in depth description of why a Customs bond is reuired for all commercial transactions.

    A customs bond is a guarantee from a surety company to the United States government that the principal (importer) will abide by all laws and regulations governing the importation of merchandise into the United States. A bond is not designed or intended to protect the importer.The purpose of a bond is to guarantee that all customs duties, penalties, and other charges assessed by U.S. Customs will be paid and that all trade regulations will be followed. Any corporation, company, or individual who wishes to import goods into the U.S. is required to post a bond. In lieu of a bond, the importer may post cash equivalent to the required bond amount.

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    Handling the Ocean Bill of Lading and Destination Charges
    There are two types of Ocean Bills of Lading; Negotiable and Express, and it is important to understand the difference. Bills of Lading are issued when the vessel sails and all copies, regardless of type, are given to the shipper at origin.

    NEGOTIABLE: One Original, endorsed Negotiable Bill of Lading must be surrendered to the issuer or his agent before you can take physical custody of the cargo. Because these documents are so valuable, multiple Originals are always issued. Be sure you obtain them from the shipper as soon as possible. If, for any reason, you are not able to obtain an Original Bill of Lading, you will have to contact the shipper and have them request a "telex release" from the steamship line or forwarder at origin. This can be very time consuming and result in unwelcome storage charges.

    EXPRESS: Sometimes also referred to as a SEA WAYBILL, this is a non-negotiable Bill of Lading that is not required to be

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    Marking Requirements

    The marking statute, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), provides that, unless excepted, every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the U.S. shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly and permanently as the nature of the article (or its container) will permit, in such a manner as to indicate to the ultimate purchaser in the U.S. the English name of the country of origin of the article.

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    First and foremost, you should NEVER check these items in your luggage. You should always hand carry them on the aircraft with you and never lose sight of them.

    Well before you leave, be sure to contact us as we have specific written instructions that will make the process simple and painless when you arrive at LAX. We will email those to you upon completion of a Power of Attorney isued in our favor.

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    If your merchandise is being entered under a 'parts' or 'accessories' classification, be careful; that may be incorrect and could cause problems on a Customs audit. Some of the questions to be answered are; is this a part that can operate independent of the machine it is intended for? Is it mechanically or electrically powered? Is the power supplied by the machine only or can it be operated independently? Can it be used in other applications? Call - we can help.

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    All textile fiber products imported into the United States shall be stamped, tagged, labeled, or otherwise markedwith the following information as required by the Textile Fiber Products Identification Act, unless exempted from marking under Section 12 of the Act:

    The generic names and percentages by weight of the constituent fibers present in the textile fiber product, exclusive of permissive ornamentation, in amounts of more than five percent, in order of predominance by weight, with any percentage of fiber or fibers required to be designated as "other fiber" or"other fibers" appearing last. Fibers present in amounts of five percent or less must be designated as "other fibers."
    The name of the manufacturer or the name or registered identification number issued by the Federal Trade Commission of one or more persons marketing or handling the textile fiber product. A word trademark, used as a house mark, registered in the United States Patent Office, may be used on labels, marking, s

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    For information about this topic, please click on this link:

    Link: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/import_export/animals/animal_import/animal_imports_pets.shtml

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    For information about this topic, please click on this link:


    Link: http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/BringingAnimalToUs.html

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    TTB Says Alcohol Beverage Labels Are Not Automatically Trademark Protected
    The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau has posted a new frequently asked question about trademark protection for alcohol beverage labels, which states, among other things, that TTB’s authority to issue certificates of label approval (COLAs) for alcohol beverage products does not include trademark protection; therefore, TTB approval of a COLA neither automatically confers trademark protection, nor indicates that a particular mark may be used in violation of applicable intellectual property law. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides for trademark registrations.

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    You may receive a bill if your shipment is examined by CBP.
    Under Title 19, section 1467, of the United States Code (19 U.S.C. 1467), CBP has a right to examine any shipment imported into the United States and it is important to know that you, the importer, must bear the cost of such cargo exams. Per the CBP regulations, it is the responsibility of the importer to make the goods available for examination-- "The importer shall bear any expense involved in preparing the merchandise for CBP examination and in the closing of packages" (19 C.F.R. 151.6). Household effects are not exempt. No distinction is made between commercial and personal shipments. In the course of normal operations, CBP does not charge for cargo examinations. However, there may still be costs involved for the importer. For example, if your shipment is selected for examination, it will generally be moved to a Centralized Examination Station (CES) for the CBP exam to take place. A CES is a privately operated facility wh

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    CBP does not require an importer to have a license or permit, but other agencies may require a permit, license, or other certification, depending on the commodity that is being imported. CBP acts in an administrative capacity for these other agencies, and you may wish to contact them directly for more information. You can find links to other government agencies and departments at USA.gov. ( A-Z Index of U.S. Government Departments and Agencies ) There is a listing of other government agencies in the appendix section of the publication Importing Into the United States. ( Importing into the United States (pdf - 467 KB.) ) You may also need a license from local or state authorities to do business. CBP entry forms do ask for your importer number: this is either your IRS business registration number, or if your business is not registered with the IRS or you do not have a business, your social security number will be sufficient. As an alternative, you may request a CBP assigned number by com

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    RN stands for Registered Identification Number. It is a number issued by the FTC to U.S. businesses that manufacture, import, distribute, or sell products covered by the Textile, Wool, and Fur Acts. Businesses can use this number on product labels in lieu of the company name.
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