5 Keys to Import Successfully into the USA

Importing into the USAIf you are new to importing goods into the United States there are many requirements, restrictions, and regulations involved. From quota restrictions, other government agency permits or inspections to customs forms. Some information, such as an item being eligible for reduced rates of duty or eligible for one of the many Free Trade Agreements, or products that are not permitted to enter the commerce of the United States because they are manufactured from a facility located in an embargoed country, can only be determined if you know the products Harmonized Tariff Schedule Classification. Determining your product’s tariff number can be extremely complex. Starting out with a good understanding of customs regulations and requirements are key to importing success. Below is a brief overview of what is required when shipping goods into the United States.

Requirements for importing into the United States:

1. Determine the use of a customs broker.

Customs clearance also commonly referred to as customs release is probably the first thing to consider.  Depending on the value of your shipment you need to determine if a customs broker is required.

For shipments valued under $2500.00, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will typically allow the goods to enter into the U.S. under an informal entry.  However, in cases where the goods are regulated by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or if the goods fall under Anti Dumping Duty/ Countervailing Duties, quota, or other restricted goods, these goods require a formal entry and do not qualify for this exemption.

If a formal entry is required you need to have an account set up with a customs broker and documentation prepared prior to shipping. Documentation is usually completed by the exporter or supplier prior to the goods being delivered to the carrier.  The importer of record is ultimately responsible to ensure that the documentation provided is accurate and complete.  It is critical that you have all the proper documentation and information. Once paperwork is submitted to your customs broker, they will review the information for accuracy prior to the information being submitted to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

2. Prepare import documents prior to shipping.

Documents that are typically required with each shipment are listed below:

  • Customs or Commercial Invoice
  • Bill of lading
  • Other government agency documents
  • Commodity specific requirements or documents

3. Meet commodity specific and Other Government Agency (OGA) requirements.

Commodity specific and other government agency (OGA) requirements depend on other government agencies’ safety, energy efficiency, health, standards, etc.  Many of the items cannot be imported without a permit, license or additional documentation to satisfy the agency’s requirements.

Everything imported into the U.S. must be properly marked with the country of origin. There are some exceptions to the marking requirements which are listed in the federal code of regulations 19CFR134.33 the J List exceptions. Some products are very hard, or impossible, to mark such as:

  • bolts
  • nuts
  • washers
  • cut flowers
  • firewood

If imported in a container and the container reaches the ultimate purchaser,  then it is required to be marked with the country of origin.

4. Pay import duty fees and taxes.

Duty rates are fees that are paid to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  Duty rates are based on the classification of the products that are entering the USA.  The Importer of Record is responsible for paying these fees.  Your customs broker has the authority to pay the duty fees on your behalf and invoice you for them or set up an automated clearing house account for you to pay the duty directly to U.S. Customs.


5. Determine correct harmonized tariff schedule.

Products that enter the U.S. are classified according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.  Goods are placed in a product category called classification, the number used to classify the product is more commonly referred to as a Harmonized Tariff Schedule or HTS number. The classification number is 10 digits and that number determines the rate of duty that will be applied to your product.  U.S. Customs has an online version of the most current HTS codes available.

Classification can be a very difficult process that generally requires a lot of research and product information.  As the Importer of Record (IOR), you are ultimately responsible for providing the correct product classification to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  Entering goods into the United States with an incorrect classification or duty rate could result in penalties or increased duty bills. Many importers choose to hire a customs broker to assist them with the classification of their goods. Do not be surprised if your customs broker asks for ingredient lists or written literature on your product when assisting you with your product classification.

In conclusion, it is the Importer of Record’s responsibility to make sure that their goods meet all the requirements for entry into the United States.  A customs broker is there to lend a hand and assist you with the various requirements and regulations.  Always plan ahead and be sure to know before you go to ensure a hassle free importation into the U.S.


If you are importing or exporting goods into the USA, Pacific Customs Brokers can help. We work with all types of importers from a broad range of industries offering U.S. and Canadian customs brokerage, trade compliance consulting, freight forwarding, warehousing and distribution services.


Learn more about importing into the USA:

Get a comprehensive understanding of the process involved when importing into the USA at our upcoming webinar Importing for the Beginner-US [Part 1]. Take your learning a step further by attending the Importing for the Beginner-US [Part 2] webinar and delve into the details previously touched upon in part one of the series.

Our in-house seminar on U.S. Customs Compliance is another great way to understand the movement, compliance and regulations around goods imported into the USA.


Have questions or comments regarding importing to the USA? Leave them in our comments section below or email  Ask Your Broker.


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5 Frequently Asked Questions About ACI eManifest – Part 3

FAQ about eManifest

As highway carriers struggle with the challenges presented to their business by ACI emanifest regulations and strive to get compliant, we frequently receive enquiries that need clarification. In the coming weeks, we’ll feature five frequently asked questions about ACI eManifest. Jan Brock, recently retired Chief of Commercial Operations with Canada Border Services Agency for the Pacific Highway and Abbotsford Huntingdon districts and now a Senior Trade Advisor with Pacific Customs Brokers (Canada) will answer your questions about ACI emanifests and compliance.

So what are highway carriers’ biggest questions this week?

1. Will ACI eManifest slow down processing times with the customs broker?

ACI eManifest will not directly impact customs brokers as their process for entry submission will remain the same. That said, customs brokers will see an increase in volume as CBSA will no longer be accepting multiple shipments on one entry.


2. Do I need to file an eManifest for an empty truck or trailer?

Yes, with the exception of Customs Self Assessment (CSA) carriers, you must file an eManifest “Conveyance Report” when driving an empty truck or pulling an empty trailer. Bobtail tractors (commercial motor vehicle not attached to a trailer) are exempt.


3. What happens if I arrive at the border without first filing an eManifest?

From July 10, 2015 to January 10, 2016 carriers who do not comply with eManifest requirements may be issued zero-rated penalties (non-monetary) under the CBSA’s Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).

Beginning January 10, 2016 carriers who do not comply with eManifest requirements will be issued monetary AMPS penalties. Your goods will not be allowed to proceed past the FPOA without an eManifest submission.


4. What are my after-hours eManifest submission options for trucks that get loaded outside of office hours?

When it comes to ACI eManifest submissions, there are no after hours. ACI eManifest can be transmitted 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. If you normally self-file ACI eManifest and are unable to do so outside of regular business hours, you may utilize a third-party service provider such as Border Pro for Carriers who is ALWAYS OPEN.


5. How do I file eManifest correctly? 

Attend one of our upcoming ACI eManifest Seminars and Webinars this fall to learn how to correctly file eManifest. In these 90-minute sessions we will answer questions, offer practical solutions and help with the ACI eManifest regulations in effect.

These sessions are presented by Jan Brock, recently retired Chief of Operations with Canada Border Services Agency for the Pacific Highway and Abbotsford Huntingdon Commercial Operations. Jan is now a Senior Trade Advisor with Pacific Customs Brokers (Canada).

For details and to register »


We hope this post helps answer some of your questions. If you have other questions about ACI eManifest, we invite you to leave them in our comments section below or email us at [email protected]


For regular updates on this topic follow Pacific Customs Brokers @askborderpro.


Why You Need An ACI eManifest Contingency Plan


The July 10, 2015 deadline for ACI eManifest compliance has come and gone and we are now into the 6-month zero-rated penalty” phase. During this period, carriers will not be denied entry into Canada or be subject to monetary penalties for reasons associated with ACI eManifest non-compliance.

By now, proactive carriers have already registered with a third party service provider, or directly with CBSA with the intent of using their web portal. These early adopters are filing ACI eManifests and have used the informed compliance period and zero-rated penalty phase to work the bugs out of their systems without the fear of monetary fines. Other carriers are scrambling to become compliant while some others are taking the ostrich approach and have buried their heads in the sand.

So, let’s say that you are one of the proactive carriers who has gotten their ducks in a row and is already filing ACI eManifests. What happens if your primary service provider has a system outage, or if the CBSA web portal is down for some reason? This is where the Canadian ACI program differs from the US-bound ACE program – you cannot just contact another service provider and have them act on your behalf. CBSA requires that you register each and every service provider with them.

So what can you do in the event of the previously mentioned system outage or connectivity issue?  This is where a contingency plan comes in. There is no cost to register with Pacific Customs Brokers as your secondary service provider. If your primary service provider performs the way they are supposed to, or the web portal proves to work flawlessly, you will never need this option. However, in the event that you require emergency assistance, it will be at your finger tips and be available 24/7.

If you are still a little uncertain about ACI eManifest and how it will affect your business, attend the next ACI eManifest Seminar or Webinar. In these 90-minute sessions we answer questions around the ACI eManifest regulation and offer practical solutions. These sessions are presented by Jan Brock, recently retired Chief of Operations with Canada Border Services Agency for the Pacific Highway and Abbotsford Huntingdon Commercial Operations. Jan is now a Senior Trade Advisor with Pacific Customs Brokers (Canada).

For details and to register »

To find out more about Pacific Customs Brokers eManifest filing services please contact our carrier help desk at 855.542.6644.


Are you ACI eManifest setup? Leave us your eManifest questions or comments below.

This post is co-authored by Darren Turnbull and Jan Brock.


ACI eManifest: Requirements for Brokered Loads and Carriers with Contracts of Exclusivity

ACI eManifest: Requirements for Brokered Loads and Carriers with Contracts of Exclusivity
















This blog post aims is to clarify ACI eManifest reporting responsibilities when more than one carrier is involved in the cross-border movement of an Advance Commercial Information (ACI) shipment.

What is a brokered load?

Highway carriers (primary carriers) often contract with other carriers (secondary carriers) to transport goods on their behalf. This movement is commonly referred to as a brokered load.

What roles do primary and secondary carriers play?

The primary carrier:

  • Maintains liability for the goods until they reach destination
  • Maintains records for proof of cargo release
  • Transmits the eManifest cargo data with their carrier code associated to the cargo [Cargo Control Number (CCN)]

The secondary carrier:

  • Physically transports the goods into Canada and is liable to report the goods at First Port of Arrival (FPOA).
  • Maintains records for proof of conveyance report (eg. stamped lead sheet)
  • Transmits the eManifest conveyance data with their carrier code associated to the Conveyance Reference Number (CRN). This transmission will include the Cargo Control Numbers transmitted by the primary carrier.

What are the eManifest requirements when more than one carrier is involved?

For this type of movement a Letter of Authorization (LOA) is no longer required at the First Port of Arrival (FPOA) as the authorization is achieved by the secondary carrier submitting conveyance data and linking the cargo submitted by the primary carrier.

Further to this, a Letter of Authorization (LOA) will no longer be required for a carrier working exclusively under contract with another carrier.

What is a Contract of Exclusivity?

A Contract of Exclusivity signifies that a carrier, regardless of the signage or logo on the truck is actually representative of the primary carrier. The contract (not the LOA) must be presented to the Border Services Officer, if requested at the First Port of Arrival (FPOA). The primary carrier is responsible for the transmission of the eManifest cargo and conveyance data and their carrier code must be associated to the CCNs and CRN. The primary carrier maintains liability for the goods until they reach destination and maintains records for proof of both report and release of cargo.

We hope this has helped clarify any questions regarding brokered loads and Contracts of Exclusivity. If you are still getting on board with ACI eManifest and are unsure of how the program works we recommend you sign up for one of the upcoming seminars or webinars on ACI eManifest.

Learn more about ACI eManifest

Our ACI eManifest Seminars and Webinars are 90-minute sessions where we answer questions, offer practical solutions and help with the ACI eManifest regulations in effect. These sessions are presented by Jan Brock, recently retired Chief of Operations with Canada Border Services Agency for the Pacific Highway and Abbotsford Huntingdon Commercial Operations. Jan is now a Senior Trade Advisor with Pacific Customs Brokers (Canada).

For details and to register »


Is your business implementing ACI eManifest successfully? We welcome your questions and comments in our comments section below.


Additional Resources:


Related Blog Articles:



NAFTA: 6 Best Practices To Maximize Trade Benefits

6 NAFTA Best Practices That Will Maximize BenefitsWith the end of the year quickly approaching, now is an excellent time for North American importers and exporters to review and update their blanket NAFTA Certificates of Origin.

Since this is an annual project for those companies who create, collect and/or maintain blanket certificates, it is worthwhile reviewing the key areas to protect importers from potential financial repercussions.

As with many annual projects, one tends to lose track of the steps involved or even where to start. You could compare this to putting up Christmas lights…Where did you store them? Which string do you start with? Do you need to change any bulbs or alter the design?  How will you affix them to your house to make sure they stay up?   Are they still going to work?   Personally I’m convinced that a naughty elf is at work in the summer messing up my system, or maybe I just can’t remember what I did twelve months before!


Here are some best practices that you should consider while getting your NAFTA Certificates of Origin in order.

Best Practice #1. Ensure certificates are accurately completed

For companies reviewing NAFTA Certificates of Origin (NCO) from their North American vendors, the first step is to ensure that at face value, the certificate has proper coding and is fully completed.  While this might sound like common sense you would be surprised how many certificates are missing information or contain unacceptable data (for instance, indicating a dollar value in the Net Cost column).  In order to assure accuracy of the data you need to have sufficient knowledge regarding the completion of the document, the basics of which are usually found on the second page of the NAFTA Certificate of Origin.  For further information you can also refer to our previous article How to Accurately Complete a NAFTA Certificate of Origin.

If you are unsure about your knowledge and ability to perform this step, enlist the services of a customs broker to perform the review on your behalf. Pacific Customs Brokers offers a variety of services to cover verification, collection, review and maintenance of NAFTA Certificates of Origin.

  • FTA Concierge Services  – For clients with time constraints, we offer convenient FTA Concierge Services. We can solicit FTA certificates directly from your exporters allowing you to do what you do best – run your business.
  • Tariff Classification Consulting – We offer expert analysis for clients seeking guidance on tariff classification. You may know the ins and outs of your business, but we know the intricacies of trade and always look out for our clients bottom line.


Best Practice #2. Determining if goods are NAFTA Eligible

A problem in the review process is verifying that the goods listed on the NAFTA Certificates of Origin are indeed eligible for NAFTA. For importers this can be a huge challenge as they are relying on their foreign vendor to determine how their products qualify.   Remember, this isn’t just another document that is simply completed with trade data and a signature; there is a detailed process to determine if the goods qualify for NAFTA certification. Here are some things you can do:

  • Check the certificate to determine who signed the document. Generally a more senior employee will have exercised a higher level of care and due diligence.
  • Probe to discover if they use any amount of raw materials sourced from outside North America. If so, ask the person who signed the certificate how they determined NAFTA qualification. The response will be a good indicator of how carefully they conducted their review.

Tip: Both U.S. and Canada Customs use the same strategy when conducting an audit.

  • You may also want to read the NAFTA De Minimis regulations and Specific Rules of Origin for the tariff classifications covering the respective products. In some industries, there may be goods that are excluded from NAFTA if certain foreign materials are used.   It may worthwhile to be aware of these just in case your vendor has not researched it.
  • If there is any degree of uncertainty regarding their NAFTA knowledge, you may wish to suggest that they enlist the services of a customs broker or customs consultant to help them conduct a thorough review. This step is highly recommended if they export large quantities within North America and have never undergone a formal qualification.


Best Practice #3. Review Each Customs Entry

Whenever NAFTA is claimed on a 7501 (U.S. customs entry) or B3 (Canadian customs entry) a valid NCO must be on file for those products. Establish a process of checking every entry particularly if you are frequently importing new products. This can be an area of concern if NAFTA is a topic only reviewed at the end of each year. For instance, does your NAFTA management process have a procedure in place to obtain updated blanket NCOs if you purchase new products part way through the calendar year?


Best Practice #4. Select Between Blanket or Individual NCOs

Decide whether to use blanket certificates of origin, which cover a 365 day period, or individual certificates (one-time use). For infrequent purchases it may be easier to have a vendor provide an NCO for each shipment.


Best Practice #5. Devise a NAFTA Maintenance Program

If you are chosen for a NAFTA verification audit by Customs authorities, could you locate your certificates and supporting documentation? Have a system for tracking and maintaining these documents. In Canada, import documents must be maintained for six years plus the current year (five years for the U.S.).


Best Practice #6. Build Your NAFTA Know-How

Penalties and potential duty charges may be significant if errors are found and neither customs agency will accept ignorance as an excuse (AMPS and the NAFTA Certificate of Origin). We strongly suggest that you attend a NAFTA seminar or webinar  to increase or refresh your knowledge, particularly if you manage many NCOs, or manufacture and sell to North American companies. Use the information and practices you learn at these sessions to create or improve your NAFTA management process.

  • NAFTA Workshop – In this full-day workshop we will provide you with a comprehensive field-by-field guide to completing a NAFTA certificate. We will assist you in understanding product eligibility, rules of origin, common errors and the importer’s responsibilities under the program to maximize savings.

Learn more or register now!

  • NAFTA Webinar Series – Join this two-part webinar series to learn about rules of origin under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Each part in the series is 75-minutes in length and will clarify a common assumption that all products manufactured in Canada, the United States or Mexico are eligible for duty free status.

Learn more or register now!


Helping you manage your NAFTA processes

Pacific Customs Brokers offers a wide range of FTA related services and resources. Download a FTA services flyer here or find details below.  For enquiries or more information about how we can help you with your NAFTA requirements, please contact us.


Has your business benefited from NAFTA? Do  you have questions about NAFTA? We welcome your comments below or email  Ask Your Broker.



Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) Program 2016 Version Release

Export - Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) Program


The Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) Program was launched by the Canada Border Services Agency on January 1, 1998, as a fast, inexpensive and easy way of reporting goods exported from Canada. The CAED application enables exporters or their agents (including service providers) to electronically report their goods directly to the Government of Canada thus eliminating the manual reporting process form (B13A). CAED is a great tool because it reduces your company’s exposure to the Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS).

About the CAED Application

The CAED application is free of charge and includes the following features:

  • A Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (H.S.) classification search
  • Built-in encryption
  • Dialog boxes that remember input
  • Extensive online help
  • Online submission functionality

Update for Current Users of the CAED Application

For those that are currently using CAED, the 2016 version of the Canadian Automated Export Declaration (CAED) program software will be available and ready for download when it is released on December 7, 2015. The 2015 version of CAED will expire on January 31, 2016, at which point only the 2016 version will be valid.

CAED participants should upgrade to the CAED program, 2016 version, by downloading the software along with the release notes from the website www.statcan.gc.ca/exp.


Changes to “Place of Exit” and Revised Port Names

The following offices will be eliminated from the “place of exit” field in the 2016 version of CAED:

  • NB – Deer Island Point (208)
  • NB – Grand Manan Airport (224)

The following offices will be added to the “place of exit” field in the 2016 version of CAED:

  • NB – Bloomfield (200)
  • NB – Fosterville (220)
  • NB – Forest City (222)
  • NB – River de Chute (226)
  • QC – Herdman (302)

The following offices, shown with revised port names, will be added to the “place of exit” field in the 2016 version of CAED:

  • AB – Calgary – Air Commercial (701)
  • AB – Edmonton – International Airport (702)
  • BC – Vancouver – Waterfront and Warehouse Operations (806)
  • BC – Penticton – Airport (807)
  • BC – Kamloops – Airport (814)
  • BC – Prince George – Airport (820)
  • BC – Kelowna – International Airport (831)
  • BC – Sidney – Victoria International Airport (837)
  • NS – Yarmouth – Ferry Terminal (025)
  • NS – Halifax – Stanfield International Airport (026)
  • ON – Cornwall Traffic Office (409)
  • ON – Niagara Falls – Queenston Lewiston Bridge (427)
  • ON – Sault Ste. Marie Bridge (441)
  • ON – Fort Frances Bridge (478)
  • ON – Toronto – Interport Sufferance Warehouse Ltd. (496)
  • SK – Saskatoon – Commercial (605)
  • YT – Dawson City Yukon River Landing (894)

When using the CAED program to report export goods to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), ensure that the declaration is fully completed, accurate and that a detailed description of all goods is provided. Doing so may prevent any unnecessary delays with your shipments.

For CAED information: Contact the CAED Helpdesk – Statistics Canada

  • Tel. 1-800-257-2434 (toll-free calls within Canada)
  • Tel. 613-951-6291 (charges apply for calls outside Canada)
  • E-mail: [email protected]
  • Statistics Canada website: www.statcan.gc.ca/exp

For more export reporting information, consult:

Alternatively, you may contact the CBSA Border Information Service (BIS).


New to the CAED Application

For those not yet registered, for you convenience, there is a software demonstration that can be found at the following link at Statistics Canada: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/exp/demonstration


Electronic Filing for B13A

Some steamship agents will no longer submit the export documentation as there is a push to get exporters to be use the Canadian Export Declaration System (CAED), and thus saving you the shipper/receiver to have to present the export documentation in person at the appropriate designated export office.

It is important to note that shipments that require permits, you can still submit electronically, however, you must submit a hard copy of the CAED (B13A), along with a hard copy of the export permit in person to the designated export office at the place of exit.


Export Consultation Services

Pacific Customs Brokers offers export consultation services. We can assist and advise you as your independent consultant. To learn how Pacific Customs Brokers can help you open the door to export opportunities, speak with one of our logistics specialists today.


Global Export Seminar               

As a Canadian exporter, if you are shipping beyond the U.S. and into the global market, Global Export Seminar will cover key topics. In this seminar you will gain a better understanding of free trade agreements, regulations and how to prepare the documentation for export. We will provide you with a solid foundation of reporting, record-keeping requirements and terms of sale.

Register for an upcoming seminar today!


Have questions questions about exporting from Canada? Post them in our comments section below or email us at Ask Your Broker.

Additional Resources