One of the most common areas of delay affects ocean and air shipments, which unfortunately have the highest storage costs. To ensure you avoid delay and the subsequent extra charges at ocean terminals and airports, follow our three ocean and air arrival tips below.
1. Share Your Import Documents Early
Like the early bird that gets the worm, early document submission avoids the storage costs! Whether you are working with a customs broker or providing the declaration to customs on your company's behalf yourself, you should be aware of the allowable transmission time frames. In the case of air and ocean arrivals, declarations can and should be made to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) well before your shipment arrives at the port.
Inbound ocean declarations can be submitted to CBP up to 5 days in advance of arrival. Inbound air shipments can be submitted once the aircraft is wheels up.
Unfortunately, container ports and airports are bustling and need importers to move their goods out of these sites as soon as possible to free up space for incoming vessels. In order to promote prompt pick up, most ports institute storage fees.
In the case of ocean ports, many yards allow a couple of “free storage” days only. After those days expire, steep storage fees start to accumulate. Often these fees can amount to several hundreds of dollars a day.
In the case of airports, many only allow the first 24 hours as “free” time.
At minimum, submit your shipment documentation to your customs broker 5 days in advance of arrival for ocean shipments, and at the time of loading for air shipments. This will allow them the time to circumvent any issues ahead of arriving at the port while avoiding storage fees due to a delay in release.
2. Ensure Your Customs Broker Is Listed As The Notify Party
Sometimes, an importer's customs broker is not listed on the ocean bill of lading, resulting in the broker not receiving the arrival notice. This is often the case with infrequent shipments or after a change in customs broker.
If your customs broker is not notified of the arrival of your shipment, they are already behind! In many cases, the shipping line will not communicate with a customs broker who is not listed on their bill of lading. Therefore, even if the importer notified their broker of the incoming shipment, unless they also provided the documentation, the customs broker will not be able to access any information about the incoming shipment from the shipping line.
As you can assume from this scenario, charges will likely result from your customs broker not having received a release decision from Customs at the time of arrival, to no fault of their own.
To avoid this, ensure that your shipping line is aware of your customs broker’s name and that their contact details are also listed on the steamship bill of lading. Additionally, ensure that your customs broker is aware of the incoming shipment’s estimated arrival time at the port by sending them the required documentation well ahead of time.
3. Notify Your Customs Broker Of New Commodities Early
In the event that you are importing a commodity that your customs broker has not previously cleared for you, it’s a good idea to reach out to them before you ship it.
Often, these new commodities require tariff analysis to ensure that they are declared correctly. This extra level of compliance is not offered by all brokers (it is here at PCB!). When it is, it can result in the avoidance of incorrectly classified items and, therefore, under or over-paid duties and taxes.
To avoid this, keep open communication lines with your customs broker, always notifying them of new commodities you're planning on importing. Often, customs brokers can help you make decisions on your internationally sourced goods, significantly reducing your import costs.
As you can see, you have many ways to reduce your import costs. Open communication with your customs broker, timely submission of customs required documents, and ensuring your shippers know your customs broker’s contact details can save you time and money. We hope you find these tips successful in reducing your delays and storage fees.