Customs clearance is the process whereby a Government agency allows goods to move out of their country or grants access to goods coming into the country. Ideally, the customs authority gives the shipper a document that indicates they have paid all their dues and their goods are ready for export or import. To acquire this document, the customs officer must confirm the items on the shipment match those you have listed on the commercial invoice before they give you the green light. Shipping items from one country to another is not cheap. Therefore, you must ensure you do things correctly to avoid making losses or disappointing your clients. Here are some practical solutions to facilitate customs clearance for your export business.
Ensure all your documents are in order
Some of the documents the customs officer will need to approve include
- Your full name and address
- The full name and address of the recipient
- Reference number
- Weight and volume
- Invoice number and date
- Payment currency
- The shipment’s commercial value, among others.
If the officer finds even one detail amiss, they will withhold your shipment, causing delays that you could have prevented. In addition to the delay, you will have to pay holding fees.
Work with an experienced carrier company
Since you cannot oversee the movement of your cargo from point A to point B, it would help to know that they will arrive safely and in good condition. We suggest you hire an experienced carrier company or freight forwarding to ensure the safety of your items, handle the loading and unloading of cargo and fill you in on the customs and clearance procedures that could be a headache to manage independently. This company could also take the load off your shoulders while you focus on your business.
Calculate your taxes and import duties
You may have taken care of all your custom duties and are eagerly waiting to ship your cargo. However, a dire mistake would be to forget the GST, VAT, and other taxes that add to the total cost of shipping. You wouldn’t want to be caught off-guard by the extra money you all of a sudden have to pay so customs will release your parcel. We suggest you simplify trade with a customs broker, who will guide you on how to calculate the total cost so you won’t have to reach back into your pockets.
Use the correct packaging material for your shipment
We cannot stress how important it is to package your cargo well, regardless of the mode of travel. First and foremost, a well-packaged shipment will be cleared faster at customs. Secondly, the parcel is more likely to survive transit and reach its destination in great shape if you take the time to package it correctly. Ensure you indicate the right side up on the exterior of the packaging to prevent the parcel from being flipped upside down when it arrives at customs.
Select the appropriate incoterm for your shipment
Incoterm stands for international commercial terms and comprises the rules you must follow to transport your shipment. The four most common terms you could use include Delivered At Terminal (DAT), Delivered Duty Paid (DDP), Delivery Duty Unpaid (DDU), and Ex Works (EXW). If you pay your dues before you ship your items, the customs officer will mark your cargo as DDP. On the other hand, if you are yet to pay the required fees, the officer will mark your shipment as DDU and hand it over to an independent broker. However, you will have to pay extra fees with a DDU to cater for handling, inspection, insurance, storage, and disbursement.
Keep tabs on the list of regulated items
Contrary to popular belief, regulated items are not always written in black and white. Before you ship products to a particular country, it would help to check the list of regulated items. In some countries, the Government has banned all imports to promote internal trade within the country. If you don’t know this information, you will pay additional charges and will likely never get your parcel back.
Remember, international trade laws are dynamic
The only things that remain constant under the sun are change and taxes. If you are used to shipping items overseas, the process and regulations you adhered to the last time might not apply the next time you need to ship. Therefore, it would help to keep tabs on the import-export industry, so you know what to expect. The last you want is to be caught unawares with an urgent parcel that needs shipping.
Expanding your business to international markets is a scary yet exciting venture. You need to be aware of what is happening in the industry. We guarantee everything will be alright, only if you follow the guidelines discussed above.
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