FAQ

Frequent questions for customs brokerage and transport.
  • Does Alpha Customs Brokers USA handle personal shipments?

    No. We only deal with commercial merchandise.

  • I’ve never imported into the USA before. What should I do beforehand?
    • Ask your US Consignee for their Federal Tax ID number.  It needs to be written on the commercial invoice, under their address.
    • Ensure you have a customs broker – Alpha Customs Brokers USA at your service!
    • Ask your supplier to send you a copy of the commercial invoice.
    • Ask your supplier for a NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement, duly completed and signed – only if the goods are manufactured in the USA.  See FORMS section for the form and instructions.
    • Ask your supplier for a copy of the packing list.
    • Verify with your broker the duties on your goods- you don’t want any surprises once the goods arrive in the USA.
    • Speak with your customs broker about any other potential fees such as Single Entry Bond, MPF (Merchandise Processing Fee), Lacey Act fee, Security Fee, TPL, etc…
    • Verify with your customs broker if your goods are subject to FCC and TSCA.  See FORMS section.
    • Contact FDA to register your facility if you plan on shipping any merchandise subject to FDA (food, health products, products to be applied on the skin, etc…)
    • Contact US Customs Border Protection to ascertain if any permits are required prior to importation (Phytosanitary Certificates, Import Licenses, etc…)
  • How many copies of the commercial invoice should be included on the outside of the box or pallet?

    Three.

  • When is a NAFTA Certificate applicable?

    Only when the goods are MANUFACTURED in North America (Mexico, USA, Canada).

  • What is ISF (Importer Security Filing) 10+2?

    Applies to import cargo arriving to the United States by vessel (Marine). Failure to comply could ultimately result in monetary penalties, increased inspections and delay of cargo.

    What is an Importer Security Filing? Before merchandise arriving by vessel can be imported into the United States, the “Importer Security Filing (ISF) Importer,” or their agent (e.g., licensed customs broker), must electronically submit certain advance cargo information to CBP in the form of an Importer Security Filing. This requirement only applies to cargo arriving in the United States by ocean vessel: it does not apply to cargo arriving by other modes of transportation. Remember, even when using a broker, , the importer of record, is ultimately responsible for the correctness of the entry documentation presented to CBP and all applicable duties, taxes and fees.

  • I would like to export commercial goods. What should I do beforehand?
    • Prepare a commercial invoice, packing list and FTA certificate (if applicable)
    • Special certificates may be required for countries with which the United States has free trade agreements (FTAs).
    • Some certificates of origin including those required by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the FTAs with Israel and Jordan, are prepared by the exporter. Others including those required by the FTAs with Australia; the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) countries; Chile; and Morocco; are the importer’s responsibility).  Read more on the CBP website https://2016.export.gov/logistics/eg_main_018121.asp
    • If you are shipping your goods in wood packaging, ensure your packaging is ISPM 15 (Wood Packaging) compliant.
  • What is Electronic Export Information (EEI) – formerly Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED)?
    • The Electronic Export Information (EEI) needs to be filed when the value of the commodity classified under each individual Schedule B number is over $2,500 or if a validated export license is required to export the commodity. The exporter is responsible for preparing the EEI and the carrier files it with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) through the AES or AES Direct.
    • Prior to exporting, the exporter should acquire the Schedule B number for the commodity they intend to export. The Schedule B number must be reported in the AES to identify the goods being exported. This number can be obtained from the Census Bureau at 1-800-549-0595, option 2.
    • Exemptions to requiring and EEI: Exporters sending shipments in which the ultimate destination is Canada, as long as the goods are not licensed or contain rough or uncut diamonds, or shipments to U.S. possessions (i.e. Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Midway Island, Wake Island and American Samoa). However, if the shipments ultimate destination is the U.S. Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico the EEI must be filed. For additional exemptions, see the FTR Sections 30.36-30.40.
    • Read more on the CBP website https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/292/~/when-to-apply-for-an-electronic-export-information-%28eei%29
  • What is a PARS shipment?

    PARS is an acronym for Pre Arrival Review System. Shipments coming in by TRUCK from the USA are pre-released before the truck arrives at the border. The driver affixes his PARS barcode to the commercial invoice. The driver must fax his documents to the customs broker at least two (2) hours before crossing. Otherwise the PARS will most likely fail.

  • What is a PAPS shipment?

    PAPS is an acronym for Pre-Arrival Processing System.  Shipments coming in by TRUCK from Canada destined to the USA are pre-released before the truck arrives at the American border.  The driver affixes his PAPS barcode to the commercial invoice.  The driver must email/fax his PAPS documents to the customs broker at least two (2) hours before crossing.

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