Air shipment: click here and type in your AWB#.
Sea shipment: click here and type in your MBL#.
Import duty is an indirect tax imposed by the government on the value of an imported product. The duties you will owe upon importing into your government are determined by your product’s HTS code. Normally it is not included in the freight and paid by the buyer’s side. What’s more, there is a free tax under a certain value for personal parcel only.
Your shipment may be selected for a Customs examination, especially if you’re a first-time shopper. Shipments may undergo an X-ray exam, a Tail Gate exam, or an Intensive exam.
An X-ray exam is the least intensive exam. If CBP selects your shipment for a Customs exam, the container will be driven through an X-ray machine at the ocean terminal. A customs officer will then review the X-ray images and either release the container or escalate it to a Tail Gate or Intensive exam.
A Tail Gate exam is the next step up from an X-ray exam. During a Tail Gate exam, the customs officer will break the seal of the container at the ocean terminal, open the doors, and look inside the container. The customs officer will then either choose to release the container or escalate it to an Intensive exam.
An Intensive exam is the most thorough exam. During an Intensive exam, the container will be trucked to a Centralized Examination Station (CES) where the container is unloaded so that a Customs officer can examine the cargo.
As you know, every type of customs exam will result in fees & delays. It depends on shipment terms.
If your cargo is shipping via express service, it will be put on a direct flight to its destination, making it the most expensive type of air service.
If your cargo is shipping via standard service, the cargo will likely make stops at one or two airports, where the cargo either switches planes or other cargo is on/off-loaded. Standard is the most common type of air service.
If your cargo is shipping via deferred air service, the cargo will make multiple stops along the route to its final destination. Deferred air is the cheapest type of air service, but deferred air freight rates are still higher than LCL rates.
These three types are the most common ones used for container shipping. Because prices are similar for 40ft container (2.39m H) and 40 HQ container(2.70m H), we suggest 40 HQ, cost-effective and convenient for loading & unloading.
As a general rule, FCL is generally fast compared to LCL because of the less general handling and unforeseen delays. It is also great for cargo that requires high security and fewer risks of damage. On the other hand, LCL is a more cost-effective solution for small-volume shipments. This makes it the best option for businesses with smaller orders as it reduces inventory investment while providing more flexibility.
LCL (less than container load) is a mode of ocean shipping where multiple importers’ shipments are consolidated at a CFS (Container Freight Station) into one container. If you don’t have enough cargo to fill up a container, LCL is a cheaper option than FCL, although additional days are added to transit time for consolidation and deconsolidation.
FCL (full container load) is a mode of ocean shipping where one importer’s cargo occupies a full container. FCL shipments are faster than LCL, as they don’t need to spend time at a CFS at the origin port and destination port, and can be traced directly to their final destination.
There are currently 11 incoterms, but you’re most likely to encounter FOB, EXW, DPU, and DDP:
EXW – Ex Works (named place of delivery): means that a seller has the goods ready for collection at his premises (Works, factory, warehouse, plant) on the date agreed upon. The buyer pays all transportation costs and also bears the risks for bringing the goods to their final destination
FOB – Free on Board (named port of shipment): The seller must themself load the goods on board the ship nominated by the buyer, cost and risk being divided at ship's rail.
CIF – Cost, Insurance & Freight (named port of destination): Seller must pay the costs and freight to bring the goods to the port of destination, in addition, procure and pay for insurance for the buyer. However, the risk is transferred to the buyer once the goods have crossed the ship's rail.
DPU – Delivered at Place Unloaded (named place of destination): This term means that the seller delivers the goods to the buyer to the named place of destination in the contract of sale. The goods are not cleared for import or unloaded from any form of transport at the place of destination. The buyer is responsible for the costs and risks for the unloading, duty, and any subsequent delivery beyond the place of destination. However, if the buyer wishes the seller to bear the cost and risks associated with the import clearance, duty, unloading, and subsequent delivery beyond the place of destination, then this all needs to be explicitly agreed upon in the contract of sale.
DDP – Delivered Duty Paid (named place of destination): This term means that the seller pays for all transportation costs and bears all risk until the goods have been delivered and pay the duty. Also used interchangeably with the term "Free Domicile". The most comprehensive term for the buyer. In most of the importing countries, taxes such as (but not limited to) VAT and excises should not be considered prepaid being handled as a "refundable" tax. Therefore, VAT and excises usually are not representing a direct cost for the importer since they will be recovered against the sales on the local (domestic) market.
Marine insurance is very cheap, rough US$50-US$100 based on the shipment invoice value. There’s no reason not to have your consignment insured with a little additional money. It will cover the transportation damage, but please note it doesn’t cover any quantity or quality issues. The risk and cost are not always the same for Incoterms. In many cases, the risk and cost usually go together but it is not always the case.
If you are new to importing and haven’t found the right forwarding agent, you’d better choose an incoterm that takes the cargo as far as possible, until you are definitely sure you can handle the rest, like CIF/DPU/DDP.
If you have a trusted forwarding agent with good prices, we suggest you can select EXW or FOB terms. Regarding to wood products (eg. Our retail shop display units, or other sensitive products), it is suggested FOB terms, because your forwarding agent may be in trouble for exporting customs clearance
Anticipate tighter capacity and higher rates during certain times of the year when import volumes are up:
Peak Season ramps up during the second half of the year, as importers begin to bring in stock for the holiday season. As businesses prepare for the winter holidays import volumes will rise and ocean and air rates will increase. Prepare for high rates, rolled cargo (cargo that cannot be loaded onto the vessel it was scheduled to sail on because the vessel ran out of capacity), trucking delays, and other interruptions.
Golden Week is a 7-day festival in China starting on October 1st to celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Suppliers and carriers will take the week off, so space becomes constrained in the weeks leading up to Golden Week, amplifying the already tighter space and higher rates of Peak Season.
Chinese New Year is celebrated in February, and similar to Golden Week, suppliers and carriers will have the week off and usually take time to travel before and after the holiday, so expect additional closures and delays
Always plan ahead when shipping near holidays and anticipate delays and higher rates.