Monday, July 25, 2011

Maintain your Customs Records

Anything that is imported must be properly recorded - maintaining accuracy and validity of all the entry records you create. The government can always pop in unannounced and ask questions on your importations. The questions that arise are usually based on "Red Flags" they find via a database filled with information about factories, goods, people from across the globe.

How long are you required to maintain records? 5 years after importation (drawback claims, 3 years after payment of drawback claim).

What is Customs looking for? Could be anything but the most common areas Customs looks at are classification, valuation of merchandise, compliance with the law, and the importer's right to import or export merchandise. THE FAILURE TO KEEP RECORDS RESULTS IN PENALTIES UPWARDS OF $100,000.00.

Who can maintain the records? The law does not force the importer itself to maintain the records. The importer may hire an agent to do so however, importer maintains full liability for any errors resulting from the maintenance of the records.

In addition, a system of certification for recordkeepers has been established by the government. It is a voluntary program available to those importers and their agents who take steps to assure that records are properly kept. You may read more about it in detail here

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Pay Your Duties!

One of the main functions of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is to collect duties. What are "duties"? Duties are a form of tax that an importer has an obligation to pay. Inherent in the payment of duties is liability to which the government defines to be a personal debt due from the importer to the U.S. that can only be discharged by paying the FULL amount. There is no haggling with Customs!

Please be careful because the failure to pay your duties on time may result in an audit, penalties, and other legal consequences leading you to be on Customs bad side.

When is duty due?
A deposit of estimated duties are due during the time of your merchandise entering the U.S. Any additional duty found is due 30 days after liquidation (Liquidation means the final computation or ascertainment of the duties).

Customs duties are often paid by the importers customs broker who is clearing the shipments to be paid over to Customs. However, Customs Brokers are not agents of Customs and therefore payment of duties to your Customs Broker does not relieve you from liability if Customs is not paid.

Two ways to pay Customs: 1) Checks Payable to Customs which are delivered with a Customs entry; 2) Automated Clearing House which permits Customs to withdraw duties from your bank account - allows a 10 day window to pay AFTER entry.

Feel Free to e-mail me with any questions :)