1 – Find a customs broker

To different countries, import customs clearance procedure may differ. In some countries, the customs service does not require an importer to have a license or permit and an individual may make his own customs clearance of goods imported for personal use or business. You’d better, however, have a licensed customs broker (or freight forwarder) act as the clearing agent for you unless you’re very familiar with the import customs clearance formalities in your country.

Therefore, the first tip is to find a licensed customs broker who can work with you on a long-term basis. They are especially valuable to you when your business is not located in the destination air/seaport which is usually the port of entry – if you’re unable to be there to prepare and file your entry, the customs broker may act as your agent, pick up and deliver the shipment to your door. The customs broker could be found by personal referrals, looking in the local yellow pages, or running a search online.

2 – Know the documentation required for customs clearance in your country

In all countries, three documents are required for customs clearance:

For the imported merchandise of binoculars and telescopes, depending on the packing materials and different customs regulations in different countries, the documents below may be also required:

  • Pro forma invoice
  • Fumigation certificate
  • Certificate of origin
  • GSP certificate of origin
  • Insurance certificate
  • Sales contract
  • Import license

Work with your customs broker to find out what kinds of documents are required for your local customs clearance, and then tell us, so we can provide and prepare the relevant documents at our end.

3 – Inform the date of arrival

The customs service does not notify you of the arrival of your shipment. Notification is usually made by the carrier of the goods. With the air waybill no. or B/L no. given, you may track the shipment online to get the date of arrival. You or your clearing agent may recheck with the local office of the carrier to be sure there is no unexpected delay with the flight no. or the ship name.

The purpose is to enter the imported binoculars and telescopes through customs in a timely manner. The customs services in most countries stipulate that all goods declared must be downloaded and entered within 7-15 days after the arrival of the importing ship. Failure to do so will result in the goods to be conveyed to a general customs warehouse to be held as unclaimed. You’re responsible for storage charges which are incurred while unclaimed binoculars and telescopes are held at the warehouse. If it remains unclaimed at the end of 3-6 months, the merchandise is sold at auction.

If due to the unexpected reasons in some countries, a long delay in the clearing procedures is expected, Goods are placed in the bonded areas before going through clearing procedures. Bonded areas are warehouses under the control of customs authorities, Customs duties are not paid unless goods are taken out of the bonded area.

4 – Submit the documents and apply the Customs Declaration Form

For air shipment, the documents are sent to you, or your clearing agent with the cargo on the same plane and arrive at the destination airport at the same time. Upon arrival, you’d better provide the documents to your clearing agent immediately. With the correct documentation, the Customs Declaration Form is issued.

For sea shipment, the documents are sent by our bank to your bank. Upon arrival of the documents, your bank will inform you that you should pay to get the documents. After the payment is made, you or your clearing agent obtain the documents to apply for the Customs Declaration Form before the goods arrive at the destination seaport.

5 – Download the goods and proceed to the customs

When the goods arrive at the port, the goods should be listed in a document that lists all goods present on the shipment. Only if the goods are listed, they can be downloaded and a delivery order issued. The delivery order is a document issued by the shipping company which states the price to be paid for transportation.

In our case, based on CIF (cost, insurance, and freight), there is no problem for the issuing of the delivery order.

6 – Clear the goods

In order to clear the goods, relevant documents should be presented. Goods are given a “Customs Entry” document that contains the number of the shipment and its value. At this stage, the clearing agent identifies customs and duties to be paid and completes the Customs Declaration Form. In some countries, clearance procedures are normally done directly in the customs broker’s office using electronic communication systems directly connected with the local Customs Authorities. If the goods do not go through clearance after being downloaded from the ship/plane, they must be placed in bonded areas. If goods go on clearance and there are delays during the clearing procedures, you might pay demurrage and storage fees.

The dutiable value of the merchandise is determined by Customs. Generally, the transaction value of the merchandise serves as the basis of appraisement. Transaction value is the price that you actually pay us for the binoculars and telescopes being imported. The customs will examine the goods to determine the value of the goods for customs purposes and their dutiable status. The examination may usually be made on the docks, at container stations, or cargo terminals.

Customs duties rate is a percentage which is applied to the dutiable value of the imported goods. Work with your customs broker to check your local tariff schedule and duty on the binoculars and telescopes. For APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Community) countries, the import duty rate on binocular and telescopes can be checked online on APEC Tariff Database. For other countries, you can get the clue on Customs Tariffs of the world, and for Vietnam is here

7 – Pick up the goods

After the goods are released, you or your customs broker will pick up the goods, and deliver on your premise.

And don’t forget to set up an easy-to-use record keeping system. In some countries like the U.S., records regarding any import must be maintained for five years. Failure to produce these records in response to a reasonable request from customs may result in a penalty.