Prior to shipping, a couple of issues must be addressed.

All goods must be individually marked with the country of origin. It must be permanent, and conspicuous. If you wish, we can review any marking to ensure it is compliant with the ambiguous regulation of conspicuous. Unmarked merchandise is subject to seizure, and additional marking duties, and placing the importer in jeopardy for future examinations. These examinations are expensive, and cause long delays in the release of your merchandise upon arrival in the USA.

Prior to any ocean freight shipment, an importer security filing (ISF) must be filed with US Customs and Border Protection, normally by your Customs Broker (Service Shipping Inc.). The 12 data elements are able to be sent to us on an ISF Form we created, and have attached herein. The information required is assembled by the shipper and the foreign freight forwarder, and sent to us for electronic filing. This is imperative again, as the penalty for non filing or inaccurate filing is $5,000.00 per occurrence.

Packing in a method that protects the goods from the rigors of multi-mode transportation, are crucial to your success as an importer. Communicating this to your seller, and working with them to ensure this is imperative to the safe arrival of your goods to your door. Failure to provide adequate, appropriate packing will not only have your merchandise arrive damaged, but will also nullify your cargo insurance coverage.


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Talk to our team of Expert Customs Brokers to learn more about Customs clearance, and the logistics of importing international shipments to all US ports.

When working with the seller, it is important to stress that if any solid wood packaging is used, it is subject to the International Solid Wood Packing Materials (ISPM) regulations, and must be marked by a registered marked with the ISPM-15 Compliant stamp on all solid wood packing materials. There is a zero tolerance policy on SWPM, and cargo packed with non-compliant wood is not allowed to be separated, and the ENTIRE shipment must be exported to a non contiguous country for removal of the illegal wood packing material.

The carrier’s liability is normally less than the value of your shipment, and therefore we ALWAYS recommend that you have us provide All Risk Cargo Insurance. The costs are comparatively low, and the only way to protect you and your cargo for door to door safe passage of your goods.

Customs clearance is preferred to be done in advance of the arrival of the merchandise in the USA. This minimizes or eliminates Storage or container demurrage charges, which start as soon as 2 days after the arrival of the merchandise. Therefore documents via e-mail are imperative to be in our hands at a minimum of 5 days prior to arrival of the merchandise.

To clear the goods, for most commodities, we need at LEAST these three documents:

1) Commercial invoice

  • In English
  • Showing full description, value and currency of the goods
  • Must be signed by the preparer
  • Must show country of origin
  • Should show terms of sale, normally using INCOTERMS 2010 version

2) Packing List

3) Bill Of Lading

  • Consigned to the buyer
  • Show Service Shipping Inc. and our details as the notify party
  • Prepared in a Telex Release format(Express Bill Of lading), unless Originals are required for banking purposes

For a Customs Broker to represent you in the transaction of Customs business, we require a Customs Power Of Attorney to be executed and provided to us, and must be signed by a principal or a corporate officer of the importer of record.

If Customs decides to examine your cargo, you must pay for the fees associated for the imaging, or physical examination, as an additional responsibility for being an importer. This will add time and expense to your importation, so full compliance is necessary to ensure that future examinations are minimized.

When the goods are released from our nationwide electronic entry presentation, the goods then can be delivered to the ultimate consignee, or packed up, as the individual situation dictates.

These procedures are general covering the importation of goods that do not have other Government Agencies (OGA) regulations, FDA, FCC, DOT, EPA, FWS, USDA, FTC, TTB ETC.

When entering into a new product line, we recommend you speak to one of our representative to ensure that there are no additional regulatory issues that are not obvious (like animal feed being subject to US Food and Drug Administration regulations).

Communication with us is free, and part of our recommended course of action as your Customs Broker. Informed compliance is the law.

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