Friday, May 8, 2015
Clear Customs With Ease

When you're shipping products to other countries, the last thing you want is for those items to get held up in customs. Delayed shipments tie up your inventory and create unwanted issues for your customers. How do you keep your shipments moving — and your customers happy?

Danny Cobb, who is a operations manager at LMF and proficient in dealing with customs, says most shipment delays can be prevented. It just takes an understanding of the international regulatory system and precise documentation.

Here are some tips Cobb suggests to make your customs clearance run smoothly:


Do your research. Before you ship, make sure you and your recipients have a solid understanding of the import requirements for your destination country — what is and isn't allowed and what paperwork is needed. For instance, Cobb says, most shipments require a Commercial Invoice, something many shippers overlook. "That's one of the most common mistakes people make. Either they don't fully complete the Commercial Invoice or they don't realize that they have to submit one." Depending on the commodity and its value, other clearance information and documentation (in addition to the Commercial Invoice) may be required for a shipment, such as packing dec or import permit. Your shipment may be held up in customs until they receive all the required documentation from the importing recipient.

Avoid surprises. Ancillary clearance service fees may apply to shipments with special clearance needs. Double-check proir to shipping to learn what may be incurred for your shipment.

Stay connected. "I think one of the most basic things a person can do is to make sure to have good information about the recipient," Cobb says. Include an up-to-date mailing address, phone number and email address. Should issues arise while your shipment is in transit to the destination country, make it as easy as possible for Lochm contact the recipient.  

Be thorough. Identify whether the shipment is personal or for business, and be specific when giving a shipment description. For instance, if you're shipping laptop bags, don't just write "bags." Include precise information about the bags ? what they are, how they are used, their size, what they are made of, and so on. "The more detail you can give, the more it will help the process move smoothly," Cobb says. 

Be upfront. State the accurate value of a good ? a miscalculation can hold up its approval in customs. "Even if it's not intended for resale, you should not put [the amount as] 'zero dollars'," Cobb says. Everything has a value, he says.

Automate. Lochm provides you with the ability to create air/seaway bills, Commercial Invoices and any other paperwork necessary to successfully complete your international shipment. Automated steps mean fewer issues arising at customs.

A little bit of work on the front end can drastically improve the import-clearance process, so that your products can get where they need to be — and you can breathe easy.
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