Importer Responsibility (Part 4 of a Series)

First we would like to express a big “thank you” to all of those who have given us comments and suggestions for our e-blasts. We take your input seriously and over the next few months we will try to address everyone’s specific recommended topics. Since Customs and the other government agencies are holding importers to a higher degree of responsibility, numerous readers have requested that we publish more information on “importer responsibility” and how importers can lessen the chances of encountering delays with arriving cargo.
To that end we decided to bring you Part Four in our Importer Responsibility series. This article outlines the typical process of importation of a perishable commodity (in this case salmon). By understanding the entire process, from start to finish, it is our hope that importers will be able to recognize one or more areas for which they can create improvements in communication, increased velocity, avoidance of delays, prevention of fines and ultimately increased product turnover and higher profitability.
Let’s look briefly at how the importation process of the selected commodity (smoked salmon fillets) SHOULD occur:
  1. The importer makes an order and advises their Customs Broker.
  2. A fisherman brings in his catch. Or a salmon harvest from his farm operation.
  3. They are sent for processing, smoked, and frozen.
  4. Then it’s off to the packing, where the salmon are inspected weighed, packaged and sealed.
  5. Then the salmon go to an exporter/shipper’s warehouse.
  6. The exporter/shipper books the salmon for shipping and sends all import documents to the Importer and Customs Broker.
  7. The customs broker starts working on the customs entry, and submits the entry to Customs.
  8. The salmon arrive.
  9. The carrier reports the shipment to US Customs and USDA.
  10. Customs, USDA and FDA review all documents and determine if any additional scrutiny is required, (physical exam, sampling, etc…).
  11. Customs and FDA release the salmon into the US. (before the shipment arrives assuming we have all the needed paperwork in a timely matter)
  12. The trucker/cold storage warehouse is notified and they pick up the cargo at the warehouse.
  13. The salmon is then distributed to customers.
  14. The bills are sent out and paid.
We hope this example will help you to evaluate your process/system for importing your commodities. With the right relationship between all parties and by following the guidelines provided in the previous Importer Responsibility articles, this is how smooth and easy importing your freight can be. As the importer you may want to take a look at you own systems and processes and compare them with those outlined in our Importer Responsibility series. Ask yourself the following questions:
  • Am I getting my broker the information they need in a timely manner?
  • Do I have the right relationship with my supplier?
  • Am I doing everything I can to get my shipment expedited through the Government agencies?
If the answer to any of these questions is NO, you may want to take some time to improve your own systems and processes. Maybe you can use our Importer Responsibility series as a “Best Practices” document for your own importation process.
Ultimately, as the importer, if you follow these guidelines you will get your shipments cleared faster. That equates to higher velocity and more profit for you!
What will the next blast be about? We would like to hear from you, our valued customers. Is there anything you would like to see in our next blast that relates to you? Let us know.