Navigating the paperwork needed to successfully import products into the US can be daunting, especially for first-time importers. Understanding the essential documents required by US Customs helps your shipments clear customs quickly and avoid costly delays.
Key import documents every importer should have
This DIY guide breaks down the key import documents every importer should have to smoothly transport goods into the US:
The commercial invoice is the core import document detailing the transaction between you and the exporter. It includes complete descriptions of the merchandise, pricing, quantities, weight, origin country, and more. US Customs reviews it to assess duties.
A detailed packing list identifies and quantifies every individual item within your shipment. Having an accurate packing list prevents goods from getting “lost” in transit. Link it to your commercial invoice specifications.
Bill of Lading
The bill of lading is your contract with the shipping carrier. It confirms their receipt of your goods for transport and terms of delivery. The ocean bill of lading proves legal ownership of cargo. Airway bills serve a similar role for air freight.
This affidavit certifies the goods were produced by the manufacturer stated on the commercial invoice. It’s signed by the foreign manufacturer and verifies the origin of your imported merchandise.
Importer Security Filing (ISF)
Also known as “10+2” filing, the ISF provides CBP with added shipment visibility. Importers must file 10 fields of data (plus 2 for ocean imports) before goods depart the foreign port.
Having a marine insurance certificate demonstrates your goods are insured against damage, theft, or loss during transit. It must include the policy value and contact details for the insurer.
Certificate of Origin
This document specifies the country of manufacture, production, or growth for your imported goods. It’s often required to determine duty rates.
Streamline Your Process
The best way to stay organized and fully compliant with import documents is by working with a licensed customs broker who can pull together and file all required paperwork on your behalf based on your specific imports.
Investing in customs software also helps DIY importers manage documentation digitally in one place while linking data across forms to sync up invoices, packing lists, and origination details. Get your papers in order and breeze through importing!
Using HTS codes and AI solutions like Bina for easy tariff code classification when importing:
Simplify HTS Classification with AI
A key step in completing import paperwork is determining the accurate Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) code for your products. The tariff codes classify imported goods to calculate duties and determine restrictions.
Looking up unfamiliar HTS codes manually can be time-consuming for DIY importers. Thankfully, artificial intelligence solutions exist to simplify the process. (hts lookup tool)
Bina is an AI-powered tool that allows importers to instantly classify their products by simply searching or describing the items. Within seconds, Bina’s advanced neural networks identify the most applicable HTS codes for your imports to use in customs forms.
This AI tariff classification assistant saves importers hours of work while maximizing accuracy on documentation. Let smart technology handle the heavy lifting so you can focus on importing!
Leveraging logistics technology like AI and customs software along with help from licensed brokers allows DIY importers to stay on top of required paperwork and import goods seamlessly into the US.
Follow this guide to ensure you have all essential import documents ready for customs. With your paperwork ducks in a row, you can sail through importing without hassles!