By Stephen Hamilton, Managing Director, ChemLogix Global
Importing products can be a daunting task, especially for small- to mid-sized companies with minimal logistic resources and limited internal system processes dedicated to logistic operations. The same appropriate actions or reasonable care is required of all U.S. companies importing products to ensure correct and safe entry of merchandise into the States. This involves correct classification of goods, payment of appropriate duties, checking what is received, maintaining required records and other compliance requirements.
In managing reasonable care in meeting compliance, importers should have an experienced in-house employee with knowledge of customs laws and regulations or employ an outside expert who possesses the in-depth knowledge of compliance regulations and processes to efficiently manage compliance requirements, reduce errors and expedite information exchange among trade partners.
Different third party resources are available to shippers:
Licensed customs broker: Contracted to assist with customs documents, rules and regulations associated with reasonable care and fees related to imported goods, customs brokers help ensure goods are cleared through customs in a compliant and timely manner. While shippers can contract other outside experts to prepare documentation, customs brokers are the only third party that can file entry documentation on behalf of an importing client. As not all brokers can process entries at every U.S. custom ports, importers must ensure they hire the right customs broker to meet their requirements by checking their license, permit to import certain goods and other paperwork.
Law firms offer advice on a variety of custom topics including all aspects of reasonable care, negotiate broker contracts and manage broker activities, conduct training classes and guide shippers in creation of import policy and procedure manuals. Some law firms specialize in providing legal services associated with seizures and forfeitures related to imported products.
Consultancy firms or third party logistic providers (3PLs) offer a range of managed services from assessments of current compliance programs, establishment or update of best practices, broker management, recordkeeping, process systems and internal controls, regular audits as well as import compliance training. These consultants offer hands-on service in managing specific aspects of compliance for a shipper or can handle an entire compliance program.
A 3PL also can combine compliance expertise with the latest web-based technology to help importers avoid the risk of non-compliance and reduce logistics costs. A compliance solution, supported by an web- or SaaS-based transportation management system (TMS), can dramatically improve processes, accuracy and efficiency related to import compliance without requiring any software or hardware investments by companies. In addition to streamlining operations by integrating multiple locations, the TMS can automate communications with trade partners, recordkeeping and other tasks associated with compliance so companies can operate more effectively and efficiently to reduce costs, improve operational methodologies and enhance relationships with Customs.
Large multinational corporations often hire a licensed customs broker or trade compliance consultant as part of their own staff. Smaller companies with limited budgets often turn to import consultancy firms or third party logistic companies (3PL) to contract managed services.
When using any type of outside expertise, importers should discuss their import program in detail, providing complete and accurate information about import transactions. It is important to establish what a consultant can do and who is going to manage specific tasks to form a successful partnership.
Even if using an outside consultant, whether a broker, law firm or 3PL to assist with the compliance, the importer of record maintains full responsibility and burden of proof for compliance of imported products.
For assistance in ensuring compliance of goods, contact ChemLogix at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 215-461-3805.