What Are Export Procedures & Documentation To Prepare When Exporting Goods To The US Market?

  1. Note about export items

The US market is one of the potential markets. However, this is a difficult market with high technical standards. Therefore, grasping export procedures is a mandatory condition for businesses

Most Vietnamese enterprises fail to sign a foreign trade contract because : 

  • Not in-depth research about permits when goods are exported to the US.
  • Lack of understanding about policies, customs and practices, lack knowledge of international issues. 
  • Failing to establish a good relationship with US distributors, shipping, banks, customs, lawyers. 
  • Uncontrollable product quality, cost, poor market prediction, …  

Note about export items:

  • The US market is a potential market for the export of food products such as rice, seafood, fruits, coffee, pepper, …
  • However, items that have not been exported to the US market such as poultry, meat, eggs, …
  • Some items are difficult to export to the US market such as alcoholic beverages, live animals, toys, perishable goods, etc, …

Depending on the specific product, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will work with other agencies such as :

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
  • The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), …
  1. Some declaration procedures when exporting to the US

Automated customs declaration (Automatic Manifest System – AMS)

  • The exporter is responsible for declaring information at the port of loading.
  • Must declare information of the shipment to US Customs 48 hours before the ship departs.
  • The exporter is obliged to declare information when the shipment is at the port of loading. However, the AMS declaration can be made by freight forwarding companies. The procedure will be completed quickly with a cost about $25 – $30 for an order.
  • The AMS declaration requires the exporter to declare the following infomation: vessel name/voyage, container number, HBL/MBL number, SCAC code…

 Import Security Filing – ISF

  • ISF was applied in January 2010 by US Customs and US border protection agency. 
  • Must declare the information of the shipment to the US Customs 48 hours before the ship at the transshipment port departs for the US.
  • ISF declaration requires importers in the US to declare information such as: importer information, manufacturer, commodity code, carrier, etc.

Container scanning (X-ray)

  • When entering the US, normally containers will be randomly checked for suspicious containers. 
  • Occurs at the port of transshipment or at the port of destination in the United States. Otherwise, the goods may be returned, even severely fined by US Customs.

Some notes in the declaration procedure when exporting to the US

  • Late declaration of AMS: If the exporter cannot complete the AMS declaration, the shipment will not be loaded onto the ship. Unless this consignment is passed through the transshipment port.
  • Edit AMS: The correction of AMS information will be applied by US Customs with an editing fee of 40 – 45 USD depending on the shipping company’s surcharge.
  • Late declaration of ISF: This principle is responsible for the importer. Usually small and medium companies will have trouble declaring ISF. If the ISF declaration is not enough, the importer will be fined up to 5000 USD/shipment.
  • Goods held for container scanning (X-ray): This is the shortcoming of most importers. Depending on the commercial conditions, the importer – exporter is responsible for this surcharge. The cost includes: container screening fee and container storage cost at the port (because time for inspection usually takes a week or more).

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