Archive for the ‘Highway Carrier’ Category


 

Wood Packaging Materials: 5 Tips to Avoid Shipment Refusal

wood-palletsWe have posted a few articles about the increase in U.S. Customs refusal of import shipments due to non-compliance with the wood packing material regulations, containing everything from perishable food products to floor tiles to machinery to textiles. This remains a topical subject, and while Customs has not officially published the exact numbers, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)  issued thousands of Emergency Action Notices in 2012 nationwide, with many of those being at the U.S.-Canada border. With very rare exceptions, these shipments have required immediate re-export. No recourse and no options for further mitigation or treatment are being offered at this time.

It is estimated that the U.S. spends about $138 million dollars each year fighting the effects of invasion by non-native species, which includes plants and seeds, as well as animals and insects. While CBP (U.S. Customs and Border Protection) and the USDA (United State Department of Agriculture) have been waging this battle for a number of years, there is a definite increase in the number of inspections taking place and the severity of required actions over the course of the past couple years. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) regulations regarding wood shipping material (ISPM 15) went into effect in 2005. Since then, all wood packaging material (WPM) entering the U.S. must be either heat treated or fumigated according to these regulations. We want to be clear that the recent increased levels of inspection and refusal are not due to any new requirements, but rather more focus and increased officer training regarding this important issue.

Wood packaging materials must not only be appropriately treated and have certification issued, but if an inspection is ordered and the officer finds reason to question the validity of the stampings or documentary statements, Customs has the right and the responsibility to refuse the shipment.

This is a list of a few of the scenarios that have come to our attention recently:

  1. Cargo arrives at the port of entry with a mix of marked and unmarked WPM. No assumptions will be made by Customs as to the origin or status of the packing materials and the entire shipment will be refused and ordered for immediate export.

  2. When goods are delivered from overseas to a warehouse, the packaging is certified and appears clean. By the time it is shipped to the U.S., however, an uninvited rodent set up house in the warehouse. Even if the WPM is marked & certified, it will be rejected – likely for noxious weed seed – and refused, with immediate export demanded.

  3. The WPM is all certified and marked appropriately, but the Customs officer finds evidence, or even a question of evidence – say frass, or fresh boreholes – that it may have been re-infected, or possibly the initial treatment was not effective, or the marks and certification were fraudulent. You guessed it – the shipment is refused and immediate exportation is ordered.

  4. The WPM is certified and marked, but the Customs officer finds evidence that the WPM is concealed in some fashion – hidden between plys, or possibly an unmarked piece of bracing material. Once again, the shipment is refused and immediate export is ordered.

If your cargo is carried as a less than truckload (LTL) shipment, it may be consolidated on a truck or in a container with other shipments. If one shipment in that lot is found to be non-compliant, it is very likely that everything on that truck or container will be refused and sent back to origin. Who bears the costs involved? Every carrier makes their own decision on this, so you will want to address this issue with your client.

Clearly, the costs of having a shipment refused at the border can be tremendous. Between all of the necessary documentation, inspection fees and communications, wait time, a wasted trip to the border and return, re-import process, repacking the shipment and sending it again – possibly late this time, or the risk of having an angry customer who no longer wants the product, not to mention possible penalties issued at a later date by U.S. Customs for non-compliance… no wonder you have a headache!

So, here are a few suggestions on what can you do to lessen the likelihood of being caught up in this scenario:

  1. Make sure that your warehouse personnel and your vendors know, understand and follow the regulations on WPM – the USDA-APHIS website is a good starting place to look for more in-depth information.

  2. As you load your shipments destined for the U.S., look at it like a Customs officer will: is the shipment packed so as to be easily examined? Are all pallets and crates clearly and appropriately stamped? How about dunnage, bracing and loose packaging – are they stamped? Know the signs of infestation – bark, frass, boreholes, live insects or larvae. Is there any evidence of pest infestation on the packing? Make sure the pallets are clean and clear of rodent debris, unintended soil or plant/seed material, and any other unwelcome pests.

  3. If you are building your own crates or packaging materials, you must use materials from a registered and accredited manufacturer, and have the final packing material treated appropriately. You cannot create your own ISPM15 marks.

  4. Implement processes and policies for shipments being returned due to non-compliance, particularly if you are hauling LTL loads. Be prepared with a plan of action, and remember that shipments cross the border and are examined 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at some ports, so it is a good idea to advise your Customs Broker of after-hours contact instructions.

  5. Stay in close communications with your Customs Broker regarding updates and/or changes in the regulations, and know how these changes might affect you and your cargo destined to the U.S.

Pacific Customs Brokers can help advise you on how to better your chances of success with Wood Packaging Materials compliance. We can provide you with helpful information to avoid delays and refusals and manage the entire Customs process seamlessly.

Have questions about Wood Packaging Materials? Leave them in our comments section below.

 

11 Reasons Why a Carrier Would Need to See a Customs Broker

Numbers-one-600A driver’s cross border journey is so much more than picking up freight and proceeding with delivery. Crossing international borders, especially with commercial freight, means complying with the rules of the governing country.

There are many aspects for the carrier to consider when planning their journey: transportation permits, routes, road conditions, hours and what customs requirements apply to the goods on board.

While most entries must be transmitted to the CBSA electronically for review, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. Here is a list of those exceptions to help give you a better understanding of some of the reasons you or your driver may have to stop your journey along the way:

  1. Invoice lines in excess of 999 lines — When an invoice covers a large number of purchased goods, it can take a customs broker quite some time to key it line by line. This is why customs has allowed entries exceeding 250 lines to be presented as a paper entry to help expedite the clearance process.
  2. Multiple Highway Cargo Control numbers at frontier
  3. Courier Low Value Shipment rejected from consist (2500CAD or less)
  4. Other government department permit or certificate required — There are certain goods that cannot be released electronically because they require a permit, certificate or license to be presented to CBSA. An example of this would be vehicles that require Form 1 or fire arms that require a special permit.
  5. System outage (ie. customs broker, CBSA or CFIA)
  6. Shortages, Entered to Arrive, Value Included — These goods are reported when the quantity of goods originally reported to the CBSA is different from that received by the importer or broker.
  7. Provisional — When the importer/owner or broker cannot establish a final value for duty of goods at the time of importation. In such cases, goods may be released under the interim accounting provisions.
  8. Prime & ETAs — When an item is too large to fit on one truck and transportation of the goods will be split up onto a number of trucks.
  9. Used self propelled vehicles — Goods that require U.S .customs authorization to export before they will be CBSA released.
  10. Used machinery requiring inspection — Goods that may have soil or dirt present must be inspected to ensure that the proper cleaning precautions have been taken.
  11. CBSA has requested to see a paper declaration

 

In any of the above cases, the customs broker will instruct you or your driver to come into their office to collect a paper package, which they will have prepared in advance. After obtaining instruction from the customs broker, you will proceed to the customs booth and advise the border service officer (BSO) that you need to see your customs broker. The border service officer will instruct you where to park while you take care of your documentation.

Once you’ve visited the customs broker and have obtained the paper package, those documents need to be presented to CBSA for their release decision. If release has been granted, Customs will stamp your paperwork released and you may then proceed with final delivery.

Do your due diligence and always ensure that your entries are good to go before proceeding to the border. By doing this, it gives you and the customs broker an opportunity to communicate any special instructions to each other.

What do you think? Leave us your questions or comments below or email Ask Your Broker.

ACI eManifest: Updated Timelines for System Functionality and Deployment

Update ArrowCanada Border Services Agency has provided updated timelines for ACI eManifest system functionality and deployment. These timelines and dates, which could be subject to change, are available in this CBSA presentation.

It is important to note that this presentation does not address the question that is uppermost in carriers’ minds – when will eManifest  become mandatory? Most of these updates deal with technical issues. Carriers that utilize a service provider or file their ACI eManifests using the Canada Border Services Agency web portal will be largely unaffected.

Highlights of this presentation include:

  • Implementation of Integrated Import Declaration (IID) and Document Imaging Function (DIF) in early 2015, with a February target
  • Introduction of a subset of new eManifest notices, for all EDI commercial clients, that will advise on the completeness of advance data submitted to the CBSA and on the arrival and release of shipments in December 2015
  • Deployment of electronic systems (EDI and eManifest Portal) for importers to transmit advance trade data (ATD) in December 2016

The Canadian Society of Customs Brokers’ visual timeline of CBSA/PGA initiatives also reflects these changes.

If you have any questions about ACI eManifest, or any other cross-border transportation matters, please do not hesitate to contact our Carrier Relations Liaison at 855.542.6644  or via email at carrierhelpdesk@pcb.ca.

For the latest updates on eManifest visit the Carrier News section of our website regularly or sign up for our weekly Border Pro newsletter. Additionally, you’ll find the Your Broker Knows YouTube channel to be an excellent resource.

 

Additional Resources:

Shipping Holiday Gifts into Canada – A Word to the Wise

Shipping Holiday Gifts into CanadaWith the holiday season upon us, many businesses and individuals send and receive gifts that cross borders. Whether you are sending corporate gifts to clients and vendors, online shopping or receiving gifts by mail from family and friends, you should be aware of a few details with regards to holiday gifts and cross-border shipping.

A. Sending holidays gifts from a business to a business

1. Don’t let customs clearance catch your recipient by surprise.

When sending a business gift, the receiver of the gift should not have to be responsible for customs clearance charges. Especially since they will not have the required information of the item being gifted in order to complete the customs entry. Arrange for customs clearance through your customs broker. Even though these are free, non-solicited gifts, they will require clearing customs and payment of all applicable duties and taxes.

Customs clearance requirements:

The gift will need to be accompanied by a pro-forma invoice, including all of the same required information as a commercial import. You must also declare an accurate commercial value for the product, as the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) does not accept inaccurate valuation.

2. Alcohol and spirits can be more expensive when shipping internationally.

Importing alcohol into Canada is subject to high duty and excise tax rates, and the import must be routed through a board, commission, officer, or governmental agency legally authorized to sell intoxicating liquor. If gifting liquor is a must, try contacting a winery or liquor store in the Canadian domestic market to purchase from and ship on your behalf.

3. Select the right gift basket.

If purchasing prepackaged gift baskets, be aware of its contents. Certain items such as meats, cheeses, fish and plant products require additional certificates, licenses, permits, and often carry high levels of applicable duties, making it extremely difficult to process such small quantities of these items contained in these gifts. We suggest giving gift baskets made up of items such as cookies, chocolates, coffee, crackers, oils, candles, etc., and avoid anything made from animal or animal products.

 

The bottom line:

If your organization is sending gifts cross-border, be prepared to treat them like every other export that is moved across international borders.

B. Shopping for holiday gifts online.

Many shoppers are choosing to stay away from the crowds, and are turning to online shopping these days. Be aware that the vast majority of online purchases are shipped from a non-domestic market (international) and will be required to clear through customs.

Check the online store’s or seller’s terms of sale and delivery

Confirm who is required to pay for the customs clearance – the seller or purchaser. If the purchaser is responsible for the customs clearance you will need to be prepared to pay all applicable duties and taxes when the item moves across the border. If the shipment is sent by mail and valued under $60.00 CAD, then there is the potential for the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) to allow the shipment to enter Canada without duties and taxes being paid.

Customs clearance requirements:

Although it will be a personal, non-commercial entry, in order to process the import you will be required to provide an invoice, including country of origin of the product, currency, and a complete description of the product(s) being shipped.

 

C. Mailing personal gifts to family and friends.

If you have friends or relatives who live abroad and are mailing you gifts, please ensure that they properly qualify the item as a gift and include a customs declaration.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • For an item to qualify as a “gift”, a friend or relative must send it to you personally and include a card or other notice indicating that it is a gift.
  • If you receive an imported gift by mail that is worth $60 CAD or less, you will not have to pay duty or tax on it.
  • If the gift is worth more than $60 CAD, you will have to pay any applicable duties and taxes on any amount over $60 CAD. For example: If a relative sends you a gift worth $200 CAD, you will pay any applicable duty, GST or HST and PST on $140 CAD.

Certain items do not qualify for the $60CAD gift exemption and are listed below:

  • tobacco
  • alcoholic beverages
  • advertising material
  • items sent by a business

Please also note that the $60 CAD gift exemption cannot be combined with the $20 CAD exemption that is available on most items valued at $20 CAD or less.

*These guidelines are applicable all year round, and are not specific to the holiday season.

 

Need assistance with shipping your holiday gifts into Canada this season? Pacific Customs Brokers can help. Contact our Client Services team for questions or a quote.

 

Will you be shipping Christmas gifts cross-border this year? Have questions? Leave them in our comments section below.

U.S. West Coast Container Ports — Contending with Congestion

West Coast Ocean CongestionThere is considerable and understandable concern within the trade community regarding the current West Coast trade disruptions, and the resulting delays and diversions of vessel cargo arriving and departing from West Coast ports.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association have been in negotiations since May 12, 2014 over a new West Coast longshore labor contract. The current six year labor contract expired at midnight on June 30, 2014 so the ILWA and PMA have been working to renew labor contracts by reaching an agreement on a new contract.

Back in June of this year we wrote a blog article regarding possible contingency plans that importers and exporters might consider in mitigating the disruptions that a Longshore strike could cause.  While a strike has not yet been called, and negotiations are continuing, we are ever aware of the growing disruptions and delays currently happening at all major West Coast ports.  Now might be a good time to review some of the alternative options, as there does not seem to be a projected return to normalcy in this matter, and it may get worse before it gets better.  A strike is not yet ruled out of the realm of possibility.

Particularly because there is no way to know when this situation might resolve, we suggest that you consider the options that we’ve put forward here, in addition to working with your overseas partners for minimizing disruptions as much as possible.

In addition to our suggested options reiterated below, U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Seattle has issued a Trade Information Notice updating the procedures that are available and to be taken in relation to the port congestion, particularly in regards to diversion of vessels.

The various scenarios outlined in the Trade Information Notice include:

  1. Vessel Diverted to Foreign Port and Discharged
  2. Vessel Diverted to Foreign Port Not Discharged
  3. Vessel Diverted to Another West Coast Port and Discharged
  4. Vessel Diverted to Another U.S. Port Not Discharged
  5. Vessel Diverted from Intended West Coast Port to Gulf or East Coast for Discharge
  6. Vessel Rests at Anchor and Not Diverted

 

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will continue to disseminate information as it becomes available. In addition, U. S. Customs has clarified that members of C-TPAT will experience “front-of-line privileges” upon resumption of normal business practices. To the extent possible and practicable the containers can be moved ahead of any non C-TPAT shipments awaiting exam, regardless of how long they have been there.

 

Alternative steps in dealing with the severe West Coast port congestion:

As a majority of imported retail goods are shipped through West Coast terminals and gates, a successful contract negotiation is of critical interest to all in the supply chain.  It is now clear that a new agreement will not be reached without considerable disruption, having a contingency plan in place in case of a strike, lockout or long-term disruption will help your business mitigate inevitable supply chain disruptions. Below are some alternative steps you could take to safeguard your shipments.

  1. Scope your alternatives – Develop a backup plan with an experienced logistics provider to ensure the proper flow of merchandise.
  2. Choose alternate port routings – Look at routing shipments to Canadian and East Coast ports not affected by these activities.
  3. Consider moving products via sea-ground options and/or air freight to minimize the impact of increased costs. Air might be a good choice for critical time-sensitive products.
  4. Transload, truck, and intermodal - Be prepared to consider multiple means of transportation, utilizing truck and intermodal as needed to keep products moving.
  5. Prepare for likely delays and stoppages at the ports as the disruptions and diversions continue.
  6. Stay updated on the status of the negotiations – Pacific Customs Brokers is monitoring the situation and will continue to post updates to the Trade News section of our website as they become available.

How Pacific Customs Brokers can help

Additionally, our affiliated companies Pacific Overseas Forwarding and PCB Sufferance Warehouse can help you devise a customized backup plan. We offer solutions from cross docking and clearing your goods to transporting them down to your North American destination. U.S. exporters might look to use our bonded warehouse as a destination to ship overseas bound cargo for container loading. Contact us to learn how one of our logistics specialists can help you prepare your contingency plan.

 

Have questions or concerns about the potential U.S. West Coast port strike? Use the comments section below to leave us your thoughts or email Ask Your Broker.

 

Additional Resources: