As the import and export authority that resides in every country, Customs is essential to shipping. The management of customs duties is vital for controlling the international flow of goods, but at times the processes can seem very complex.
The first part of the process is to ensure that goods aren’t forbidden or restricted in any way. This depends on the legislation and regulations of each country individually. In the same way, each customs authority has the power to set its own import and export costs depending on the type of shipment being processed.
The most important part of the customs process is the documentation. All relevant documentation must be completed with no error; misrepresentation of goods could lead to customs seizing goods or refusing exportation/importation. For exports, shippers must supply purchase orders, sales invoices, packing lists, shipping bills, air way bill, certificate of origin and any financial or other documentation specified by the buyer or importing country regulations. For imports, shippers also require purchase orders, sales invoices, packing lists and a certificate of origin, but also require a bill of entry, a bill of lading and any other documentation required by the buyer or importing country.
Due to the volume of administration, customs brokers are instrumental to any shipping company.
As containers pass through the customs process they are warehoused while they await clearance. Storage fees can quickly add up if the clearance does not go smoothly – whether this is because the right documentation hasn’t been provided, the container is improperly loaded or there is concern over the goods shipped.
Through the customs process, it’s also helpful to be aware of what fees and levies will be required of you. This can include not only import and export duties, but import declaration fees, revenue stamps, horticultural crop development levies and even foreign motor vehicle permit fees. There could possibly be exemptions from certain charges and levies, but these need to be well researched with the local customs agency.
The customs process ultimately depends on high quality organization, both in terms of goods and documentation. With a well-trained and high standard shipping broker, the customs process can be simple, efficient and hassle free.