7 Mistakes To Avoid at All Costs as an Importer

Avoid at All Costs as an Importer

If you are new to the importing game, then you might be wondering where you should start. Thinking that you can jump right in without a game plan is the easiest way for your business to fail.

Importing is very strict in its rules and regulations, and not following the proper rules can not only slow down the importation process but can also cause you to lose money.

Instead of going at it alone and getting things wrong, here are 7 common mistakes that you can avoid so that you don’t end up with more hassle than you bargained for.

1. Not Providing A Complaint Commercial Invoice

Invoices and billing paperwork must contain all the information that’s needed for the Customs and Border Protection officials; without this information, the goods you’re importing won’t be cleared in 24 to 48 hours and that can slow your business way down.

Paperwork containing this information will receive a seal of approval and be deemed admissible to import.

Filling out the paperwork is the responsibility of the importer to ensure that all of the vendors they’re working with are compliant. A proper commercial invoice should include:

  • The names of the buyers, sellers, shippers, and receivers
  • A detailed description of the merchandise and its country of origin
  • The weights and measurements of the shipment
  • The purchase price of the items that are going to be sold
  • Any rebates, drawbacks, or bounties that apply to the goods
  • The currency being used in the transaction
  • The goods and services used in the production of the merchandise that isn’t included in the invoice price

It’s important that you double-check all of your paperwork too after it’s been filed to ensure that there are no errors. Any mistakes could result in your paperwork being sent back to you for you to redo or not being able to receive the goods at importation.

2. Not Listing The Country Of Origin

It’s necessary to state where your imports are coming from. This should be on the label, including the address of the country’s location.

It would be a good idea to also include the address of the location where the imports were purchased from if it is different from the origin country.

The country of origin is important for the purposes of duty rates, trade agreements, quotas, and trade sanctions. Customs and Border Protection Agencies are pretty vigilant about the accuracy of the country of origin.

3. Using The Incorrect Duty Rate

Within the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, there is a section that determines what tariff duty must be paid on your imported goods. Using the wrong one can cause a lot of problems, and you’ll also waste a lot of time having to refile the paperwork with the correct duty rate.

Always double-check to ensure that you’re paying the proper rate the first time. Not paying the proper duty rate could result in some fines, as well as having to refile the paperwork.

4. Completing The Right Paperwork

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are in charge of all the laws and regulations related to your imports and require that the proper paperwork be filled out, for both expediency and correctness. They require:

  • A commercial invoice listing the purchase price, country of origin, and tariff classification of your items
  • A packing list detailing your imports
  • A bill of lading listing goods in the form of a receipt
  • An arrival notice from the U.S. agent

This is why most importers hire a Licensed Customs Broker since they will be more aware of the license requirements and paperwork that needs to be filed. Avoid the hassle the first time by hiring a professional to help you get the job done.

5. Not Providing Proper Incoterms

Incoterms are internationally-accepted definitions and rules for most commercial items.

These terms are typically used around the world in both international and domestic contracts involving the sale of goods so that when they get to their destination, there’s no confusion about what could be in the packaging.

Imports have to be defined correctly so that any official looking at them will have some idea of what could be inside.

6. Lack Of Merchandise Detail

If there is no product description on the paperwork, then you’re going to be in a bit of trouble and the goods are likely to be rejected at the border. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to provide detail a proper product description is to answering the following questions:

  • How many are there?
  • What type of product is it?
  • What is it made of?
  • Where was it manufactured?
  • What country was it made in?

Having a merchandise detail can help the Border Protection agencies to know what’s inside and whether it falls within the proper Incoterms of the goods.

7. Not Contacting A Customs Broker

The customs clearance process can be difficult to get through on your own, especially if you’re just starting out in the import business. A licensed customs broker can help your goods arrive safely without having to endure any hurdles.

It would be a good idea to contact a reputable broker to avoid any issues, hopefully before you’ve begun the importation process. They can talk you through everything that’s involved, what to expect, and the right steps to take to avoid any problems or fines in the future.

Even with the knowledge you need to avoid these seven common mistakes of the importation business, have a customs broker on your side to help you get through the more difficult aspects of the process.

You’ll be more thankful that you had someone with training and experience on your side. Not only will the process take less time, but you’ll also save a lot of money on getting everything done right the first time.

If you’re interested in getting into the importation business, then you should contact the nearest reputable customs broker to help you get through this difficult process.

This is a Contributor Post. Opinions expressed here are opinions of the Contributor. Grindsuccess does not endorse or review brands mentioned; does not and cannot investigate relationships with brands, products, images used and people mentioned, and is up to the Contributor to disclose.