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    Common situations individuals or companies ship car into or out of the US are when a person migrates to another country moves back to the US from another country or importing vehicles as a business. If you encounter a delay in the release of your car shipment by Customs, brace yourself for some inconvenience. If your car shipment is part of your business, the delay can be an inconvenience or a bad buying experience for your customer, and even revenue loss.     

     Customs and Border Protection Agency (CBPA) along with Consumer Safety Protection Commission (CSPC) are government entities that have been mandated by the US government to check that goods coming in and out of the country conform to all the requirements before they are released. They have the exclusive right to check the validity of documents for any kind of exported goods and open containers to prevent contraband, smuggling, or tax evasion. The entities are also responsible for conducting inspections of goods designated for export. 

    Tax evasion, using illegal means to avoid paying taxes, typically includes the seller under-declaring the value of the property to lower tax rates. Shipments with a value of $2,500 or over require a Customs broker who arranges for taxes to be paid so the shipment can be released. Non-payment of taxes can result in the shipment being confiscated or destroyed. 


    Common Causes of Delay at Customs

     You may appreciate that to ensure all goods are legally shipped to and from the US a series of steps are observed by the CBPA. Delays at the US customs come from the implementation of legal procedures regarding examining the conformity of goods and export paperwork to the current stipulations. There are three main reasons for delays at US Customs:

    1. Customs backlog

    Shipments are frequently held because they are waiting for their clearance in the queue. Trillions of dollars worth of goods are exported to the US each year. It is easy to understand the quality of items that go through Customs the agency has to deal with every day. 

    1. Random physical inspections

    Some items are randomly picked to be inspected against the bureau’s inspection list. 

    1. Checking for valid documentation

     Manifest Examination Team (MET), a separate branch within the CBPA, deals with documentation.


    Physical examinations can be subdivided into several types:

         Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (VACIS)

    1.     Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team (A-TCET)

          The container’s contents are x-rayed During VACIS and A-TCET examinations. 

       are any discrepancies regarding the exported goods’ description in the documents and their actual value, and weight.

    1.     Commercial Enforcement Holds (CEH) 

           It is applied when the shipment infringes on any registered trademarks or doesn’t meet the required US safety standards.

    1.     Manifest Examination Team (MET)


    What to Do When Your Shipment is Held by Customs  

    If a shipment is held by Customs, contact the transport company and wait for information from their staff. Ask about issues. Be sure to get a tracking code to be able to track your package. Provide all necessary documents needed for clearing your shipments such as a copy of your passport or a government-issued ID, and phone number, information about the consignee in the destination country, and bill of sale if the vehicle was bought in an online auction. Avoid missing or incorrect paperwork as they cause unwanted Customs delays. 

    All charges for the inspection and other additional fees are the responsibility of the customer. These fees depend on the cause of delay and inspection type and they vary from port to port within the US.

    It is always safe and prudent to deal with professional service providers such as shippers and sellers when transacting with high-value goods such as cars. You could afford the great inconvenience caused by delays outside of the standard Customs process.    

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