According to import regulations set by the U.S. government, all merchandise entering the U.S. borders must clear customs. It is also required for the company importing the goods to pay duties for any items that need to be declared. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) imposes many requirements, safety standards and documentation when it comes to imported goods.
For restricted merchandise, a license or permit must be obtained for clearing its entry. The restricted merchandise list includes alcoholic beverages, certain drugs, animal and animal products, vegetables, fruits, nuts, meat and meat products, milk, dairy and cheese products, plants, petroleum products and firearms and ammunition. Such import licenses are intended to control the flow of goods that may compete with the local products. The CBP is also permitted to impose sanctions on countries who export their goods at a higher price than its local market rate.
The volume or quantity of the merchandise is also controlled by the CBP; there are two types of quotas imposed on import regulations. Absolute quotas refer to a maximum number of goods cleared for entry at a certain period of time. If a product fails to arrive on a given schedule, it is stored in a warehouse or a foreign trade zone until the following quota period starts. Tariff-rate quotas assign lower customs duty to imported goods entering a quota period. With no restrictions on the volume, higher duties are assigned on the excess quantities.
A series of documents accompany any shipment of imported goods. The CBP require that these important papers should be filed within five working days of the arrival date in the U.S. port of entry. These documents include bill of lading, commercial invoice, pro-forma invoice, customs surety, weight certificate and entry manifest. Packing lists may also be helpful in expediting the clearing process. An import license is required in case of importing restricted products.
Fake or illegal reproductions of branded goods are a major concern for the CBP. It is also tasked to protect trademarks, patents and copyrights as part of import regulations; violations are deemed punishable under the intellectual property rights laws.
Safety and Product Liability
The CBP has to ensure safety of all merchandise entering the U.S. ports. To protect the consumers from substandard products, goods must be thoroughly checked for their quality and safety. Underwriters provide certifications to products that pass safety standards, and product liability laws protect consumers from losses when using defective products.