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Importing to the US: Do You Need a Bond?
Importing goods into the United States can be an overwhelming process for first-time importers. While many companies choose to work with customs brokers to make the process easier, there are still some things that you should know about the customs bond, to ensure your goods make it across the border. The customs bond is a document which allows import of commercial goods into the country, specifically it guarantees to customs officials that the fees, duties or taxies on the shipment will be paid.
Each country has its own rules about bonds and border crossing. For the United States, as per the CBP, international commercial carriers need to have a carrier bond (ICB) on file. Nearly all formal entries, especially those valued at $2500 and above, would require a customs bond. However, the conditions of the bonds would vary based off what your shipment is and what type of handling it requires.
The bond ensures that any money owed to the federal government for duties or taxes will be paid, so the CBP is likely to be quite strict here. If you are an international carrier, or a domestic carrier transporting inbound imported cargo between states, you will need the customs bond. You can obtain a bond through your customs broker or a licensed surety.
The two types of bonds:
There are two options for the bonds you can get: continuous or single entry.
A continuous bond would be used for those who often import into the US, as this is the more economic option. It is valid for a year, from the date it is issued. It allows you to cross at every port and enables you entry for that year. Of course, in some exceptions where specific goods may require additional bonding, but the standard entry is covered under the continuous bond. Your broker would be able to let you know if you need additional bonding.
The continuous bond option is most efficient and cost effective for those who import three or more times per year or have high value goods. The bond stays on record until it is terminated by the Surety or customs broker, so if you are renewing it, you’d submit payment again and the Surety would bill you.
A single entry bond (sometimes referred to as single transaction bond for the US) is often used if you are not importing frequently and don’t plan to. It covers one shipment only, so if you have multiple shipments at the same port of entry they will still need their own bond.
Who has access to the bond?
Anyone who is authorized on behalf of the importer can access the bond, this means customs brokers and freight forwarders also have access. The bond can be used at any port in the U.S.
How much does a customs bond cost?
The price of bonds varies based on the type of bond and the type and value of goods you are shipping. For the United States, the clearance requirements for the goods can also affect the bond cost, as certain goods may require other government agencies involvement and thus would be higher cost.
It takes around 2 to 5 business days to obtain a bond. You can get one through a licensed customs broker or surety.
Why use a customs bond?
The bond is beneficial because it allows you to cut down any potential delays or fines at the border. It can be a frustrating process, having to deal with government agencies and then brokers on top of that; but a customs a broker in this case can do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of advising which bond is best, applying for it and renewing it automatically each year, if needed.
The customs bond is a worthwhile investment if you're planning to make frequent cross-border shipments. No two bonds are alike, which is why it's important to have some expert advice when choosing one. For more information on how to get one, contact a customs brokerage company that knows their stuff. You may benefit from the Zipments' hand picked and vetted Broker Directory, containing information on brokers near you. This feature allows you to lookup contact information as well as search brokers by location, all in one space. You stay in control and save time, with this process.
Don't let the border intimidate you. Customs bonds are far from perfect, but they not only speed up the importing process, they also help to protect your shipments from potential fines and delays, which can ultimately save you time, money, and extra effort!