Tips for new importers and exporters

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Tips for New Importers and Exporters
Revised 8/31/2009

(08/31/2009)[pic]In order to avoid potential problems in the clearance of your merchandise, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) strongly recommends that you familiarize yourself with CBP policies and procedures prior to actually importing/exporting your goods. You should also be aware of any entry requirements specific to theparticular commodity you are importing/exporting, including those of other federal agencies. To assist you, we offer the following tips for new importers and exporters.
What kind of license is required to import merchandise into the United States?
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 thecommodity 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 ( 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 Intothe 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 completing a Customs Form 5106 and presenting it to the Entry Branch at a CBP port of entry. ( CBP Form 5106 )
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Web site contains valuable information for the new or experienced importer.
CBP INFO Center maintains a data base of questions and answers that can be searched by topic. ( Frequently Asked Questions )We recommend that importers review the topics on the CBP Trade page. In particular, we suggest viewing the information contained in the section titled Basic Importing and Exporting. ( Basic Importing and Exporting ) There are many topic-specific links to explore. This will lead you to information on CBP import requirements, arrival of goods, formal entry vs. informal entry, classification,protest, mail shipments, restricted merchandise and more. For other agency requirements you may need to meet, and if you become a frequent importer with higher valued shipments, we recommend you read Importing into the United States. ( Importing into the United States (pdf - 467 KB.) ) This publication contains more in-depth information and is valuable reading for anyone seriously venturing into theimporting business.
We also urge you to read the informed compliance material on the CBP Web site. CBP has prepared a number of Informed Compliance Publications (ICPs) in the "What Every Member of the Trade Community Should Know About..." series on a variety issues. ( Informed Compliance Publications ) If your business will cause you to travel in and out of the country, we recommend that you reviewthe traveler information in the Know Before You Go!. ( Know Before You Go )
Prior to importing, you may contact the CBP office at the port of entry where your merchandise will enter the United States
A complete directory of the various ports of entry can be found on the CBP Web site. ( Locate a Port Of Entry - Air, Land, or Sea ) If you are unsure of or haven’t decided the port where yourshipment will arrive, or you are looking at importing through multiple ports, you may contact a service port of entry near you. Ask to speak with a CBP import specialist assigned to the commodity you are importing. Import specialists are a valuable resource for commodity specific knowledge and can provide classification advice, commodity specific requirements, advisory duty rates, and respond to...
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