Importer Responsibility (Part 3 of a Series)

Import Document Requirements
You may be wondering why we started this series of E-Blasts. This series was started in response to meetings, calls, e-mails, etc from you, our valued customers. We listened to you and learned that everyone wanted their shipments cleared faster and with fewer headaches (no surprise here). So we decided to create a kind of general guide-line, the best way to get your shipment cleared scenario. Our goal is to get all parties involved with your imports, on the same page. The details contained in this series on Importer Responsibility are often not considered a high priority or even brought up. In our experience over the years, dealing with every kind of import, details have always been a very high priority. We have always been here to answer your questions and provide ideas on how to get your imports expedited, but we felt there may be more we could do. We hope this series will be a useful tool and guide for importing into the US.
In this, the third in our series on Importer Responsibility, we will go over your Import Documents. Page by page, detail by detail this information is how your imports are scrutinized by all Government Agencies. This is how they start the process. We’ll let you know what Customs, FDA, Fish & Wildlife, USDA and other government agencies look for on Import Documents. We’ll discuss what information should be on the required documentation and how it should be presented, and how having clear, legible, correct and accurate documents will help get your imports expedited. Your Import Documents are very important and can affect every step of the import process. Remember as the importer of record you are responsible for all aspects of the import in the eyes of all the government agencies. We don’t want Customs to receive incorrect or inaccurate information when we submit your entry documents. We rely on you, the Importer, to provide us with the most accurate information on your imports. We don’t want you to be in violation, incur any additional scrutiny or waste any time because of incorrect Import Documents.
Continuous Bond/Single Transaction Bond
If you don’t have a Continuous Bond you should consider obtaining one. Without a Continuous Bond we will always have to submit a document package to customs to clear your shipment. You may qualify for paperless entries with a Continuous Bond. This alone can save over half the time it may take to clear a customs entry. Even with a Continuous Bond, some imports may not qualify for paperless entries.
What documents are required?
A lot depends on the items imported. It is very important however that all documents are in English and clear and legible. As the importer you don’t want your shipment being held up for any reason. If you had to review hundreds of entries a day, it may take more time to review entry documents that were hard to read or understand.
In our first part of this series there are websites you can visit to find out more about what documents may be required for your imports.

Air and Ocean Imports have a lot of similarities, so we have provided a short, combined list of some of the basic requirements for both.
For Air and Ocean Imports you will want to have your exporter/shipper provide you and your Customs Broker with the following documents:
Commercial Invoice
  • In English and clear and legible.
  • Shippers name and address, phone and fax numbers.
  • Country of origin for each different line item.
  • Inco terms CIF, CF, FOB, etc.
  • Gross and net weights in kgs, description and value for each different line item.
  • Complete addresses for exporter/shipper, manufacture, packer (‘s) and or grower (‘s) and FDA registration numbers for shipments requiring FDA.
  • For more on the commercial invoice go to
Airway Bill/Bill of Lading
  • In-bound copy of the master Air Bill/Bill of Lading documents and any house bills if prepared. When importing perishable items, using a house is not advised.
  • Should contain air bill number, the shippers name and address, importers name and address, total number of cartons and gross weight, container numbers, seal numbers, freight charge and amount and a short description of shipment.
  • You should never use Flegenheimer Int’l as the importer of record or consignee on any of the Import Documents. Flegenheimer Int’l should always be on the Air bill/Bill of Lading and invoice as the Notify Party only.
Packing List
  • A supplement of the commercial invoice, in addition to the same information contained on the commercial invoice, it may contain other details about the shipment like dimensions and packing information.
Certificate of Origin
  • From the Government of the originating country.
Health Certificate
  • From the country of origin.
USDA Phytosanitary Certificate
  • For shipments on special USDA permit programs.
USDA Import Permit/Fish & Wildlife Import Permit
  • For shipments requiring USDA or Fish & Wildlife these permits are applied for by the importer and are presented with each shipment.
Cites Permit
  • For Fish & Wildlife and UDSA shipments on Cites programs.
Veterinary Certificates
Ocean Imports

ISF 10+2 information, please see attached form:
ISF 10+2 must be received in good/accurate format by CBP no later than 24 hours prior to laden of cargo. In order for us to process a timely submission, we ask that you provide the attached form fully completed with accurate information no later than 72 Business Hours prior to laden (not including weekends).
The ISF filing penalty phase began January 26, 2010. In order to ensure compliance and reduce the risk of customs penalties of $2,000.00 to $5,000.00 per violation, start filing on time today. Flegenheimer is ready to assist. Contact us anytime for further information. (310) 322-4366.
We must have a complete set of documents (invoice, certificates, packing list, and bill of lading etc…) no later than 5 days prior to the arrival of the cargo into port. This way we can have your cargo cleared before the vessel arrives and you will be able to utilize all of your allotted free time at the ports in case unexpected problems or delays may arise.
When it comes to Import Document Requirements a lot depends on the items imported.
The documents required for some imports may not be required for others. In our first part of this series there are websites you can visit to find out more about what documents may be required for your imports.
We all know how hard it is to change; we should start off right, with this in mind.
Import Documents, and the details on them, should be very clear and easy to understand. Importers are responsible for providing their Customs Broker with clear, legible, correct and accurate documents. Your Import Documents, page by page and detail by detail will be scrutinized by all Government Agencies. Having the right Import Documents can get your imports expedited though every step of the process.