Importing goods or commodities is not usually the problem; getting it right upon entry is the major concern. Customs’ civil penalty law is used to scrutinize errors made by importers relating to tariff classification, the applicability of NAFTA or other free trade agreements, the value, trademarks, compliance with EPA, DOT, CPSC, USDA, FDA or other agency regulations affecting importation.
These errors are legally called “negligence” and it triggers the customs’ civil penalty law. This law allows customs to go back 5 years to recover any underpaid duties after bypassing the 90-day statute of limitations applying to liquidations. Penalties are imposed up to 4 times the underpaid duties and customs use these penalty laws routinely. The most common mistakes made by importers are outlined below in no particular order
#1: Allowing freight forwarders to come in-between the customs broker and the importer
Most customs brokers are freight forwarders but not all freight forwarders are customs brokers. Many importers make a mistake of consulting a non-custom broker of freight forwarder who is incapable of controlling the transaction. What they do is they consult a customs broker to handle the custom entries for them. Freight forwarders too are sometimes cut off direct communication between the importer and the customs broker just because they don’t want to lose their forwarding business to a customs broker. They usually cause serious trouble for customs by using disastrous customs result. As an importer, you have to ensure you are communicating directly with your customs broker and not through any freight forwarder. That is why you need to choose a reliable and reputable customs broker for Clearit customs brokerage to handle your clearance for you.
#2: Casual response to information requested by custom brokers
There is a great risk of customs problem if every section of the CBP form is not handled seriously. As an importer, you need to be reminding yourself that the customs brokers are not responsible for reviewing your transactions; they are more concerned with finding faults with importers. Every CBP form you receive should trigger some concern from you as they are not sent out routinely. Ensure that you closely insect every response on the form.
#3: Getting legal advice from custom brokers
Custom brokers render a valuable service and are usually very knowledgeable about the various customs requirements relative to making entry. They are allowed by customs to practice customs law at the administrative level but their knowledge is limited to some valuations, some tariff classification and some other areas depending on their experience. However, they really don’t have the training or time to expertly evaluate the complex maze of laws facing an importer. Therefore, your legal duty as an importer is to know what an experienced custom attorney will tell you from the beginning.