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Transporting Cargo and the Customs Surety Bond

As your clients operating as freight forwarders understand, all cargo brought into the US must go through a specific process during entry. For anyone importing merchandise into the US for commercial purposes, anything valued over $2,500 or a commodity subject to other federal agencies requirements (i.e. firearms or food), they must then post a customs surety bond to ensure that all duties, taxes and fees owed to the federal government will be paid.

A customs agent may wish to examine the merchandise in compliance with customs regulations. Customs agents will require all cargo transporters to produce documents pertinent to the shipping of goods when requested. Once the inspection is concluded and everything is in order they’ll receive a custom clearance bond. In the case of a default of the bond, they must take responsibility if there is evidence of any damages, which may be charged against the bond.

Import duties and taxes

The primary purpose of a customs bond is the payment of import duties and taxes, along with the assurance of compliance with all laws and regulations governing the entry of merchandise from foreign shipping points into the US. For example, for merchandise that may fall under restrictions, the bond is required to cover an amount above and beyond the commercial invoice value.

For international carriers transporting cargo or passengers via air, vessel or vehicle from a foreign destination to the US, or a domestic carrier that merely wants to transport imported cargo “IN BOND” from one state to another, they will also have to obtain a customs bond. The bond can also be used to cover the commercial invoice value for any items deemed to be non-restricted merchandise, plus the duties and taxes applicable to the shipment.

If your client owns or operates a warehouse or is a facility operator and wants to become a customs bonded facility (with the ability to store or secure imported or exported goods), they will be required to obtain a customs surety bond as well. This is a standard process used in all import and export of goods, but it’s recommended that your clients learn more about this process if they have concerns.