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Entry of Goods

  When a shipment reaches the United States, the importer of record (i.e., the owner, purchaser, or licensed customs broker designated by the owner, purchaser, or consignee) will file entry documents for the goods with the port director at the goods' port of entry. Imported goods are not legally entered until after the shipment has arrived within the port of entry, delivery of the merchandise has been authorized by CBP, and estimated duties have been paid. It is the importer of record's responsibility to arrange for examination and release of the goods.

  Goods may be entered for consumption, entered for warehouse at the port of arrival, or they may be transported in-bond to another port of entry and entered there under the same conditions as at the port of arrival. Arrangements for transporting the merchandise in-bond to an in-land port may be made by the consignee or by a customs broker or by any other person with an interest in the goods for that purpose. Unless your merchandise arrives directly at the port where you wish to enter it, you may be charged additional fees by the carrier for transportation to that port unless other arrangements have been made. Under some circumstances, your goods may be released through your local port of entry, even if they arrive at a different U.S. port from a foreign country. Prior to the goods' arrival, arrangements for entry must be made at the CBP port of entry where you intend to file your duties and documentation.

  Goods may only be entered by their owner, purchaser, or a licensed customs broker. When the goods are consigned “to order,” the bill of lading, properly endorsed by the consignor, may serve as evidence of the right to make entry. An air waybill may be used for merchandise arriving by air.

Entry For Consumption
  Entering merchandise is a two-part process consisting of:
  (1) filing the documents necessary to determine whether merchandise may be released from CBP custody, and
  (2) filing the documents that contain information for duty assessment and statistical purposes. Both of these processes can be accomplished electronically via the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) program of the Automated Commercial System (ACS).

Entry Documents
Within 15 calendar days of the date that a shipment arrives at a U.S. port of entry, entry documents must be filed at a location specified by the port director. These documents are:
 -  Entry Manifest (CBP Form 7533) or Application and Special Permit for Immediate Delivery (CBP Form 3461) or other form of merchandise release required by the port director,
 -  Evidence of right to make entry,
 -  Commercial invoice or a pro forma invoice when the commercial invoice cannot be produced,
 -  Packing lists, if appropriate,
 -  Other documents necessary to determine merchandise admissibility.

  If the goods are to be released from CBP custody at the time of entry, an entry summary for consumption must be filed and estimated duties deposited at the port of entry within 10 working days of the goods' entry.

  The entry must be accompanied by evidence that a bond has been posted with CBP to cover any potential duties, taxes, and charges that may accrue. Bonds may be secured through a resident U.S. surety company, but may be posted in the form of United States currency or certain United States government obligations. In the event that a customs broker is employed for the purpose of making entry, the broker may permit the use of his bond to provide the required coverage.

Entry Summary Documentation
  Following presentation of the entry, the shipment may be examined, or examination may be waived. The shipment is then released if no legal or regulatory violations have occurred. Entry summary documentation is filed and estimated duties are deposited within 10 working days of the entry of the merchandise at a designated customhouse. Entry summary documentation consists of:
 - Return of the entry package to the importer, broker, or his authorized agent after merchandise is permitted release,
 - Entry summary (CBP Form 7501),
 - Other invoices and documents necessary to assess duties, collect statistics, or determine that all import requirements have been satisfied. This paper documentation can be reduced or eliminated by using features of the ABI.

Unentered Goods
  If no entry has been filed for the goods at the port of entry, or at the port of destination for in-bond shipments, within 15 calendar days after their arrival, the goods may be placed in a general-order warehouse at the importer’s risk and expense. If the goods are not entered within six months from the date of importation, they can be sold at public auction or destroyed. Perishable goods, however, and goods subject to depreciation and explosive substances may be sold sooner.

  Storage charges, expenses of sales, internal revenue or other taxes, duties, fees, and amounts for the satisfaction of liens must be taken out of the money obtained from the sale of the unentered goods. Claims for the surplus proceeds of sale may be filed with the port director at whose instruction the merchandise was sent to sale. Any claim for such proceeds must be filed within 10 days of sale and supported with an original bill of lading. A photostatic copy or certified copy of the bill of lading may be used if only part of a shipment is involved in the sale. Carriers, not port directors, are required to notify a bonded warehouse of unentered merchandise. Once notified, the bonded warehouse operator/manager shall arrange for the unentered merchandise to be transported to his or her premises for storage at the consignee’s risk and expense. If the goods are subject to internal revenue taxes, but will not bring enough to pay the taxes if sold at public auction, they are subject to destruction.

The importer/exporter is solely responsible for his act of importation/exportation, and he is solely liable for the the duties, fees, and penalties upon his act of importation/exportation. The information provided on is to our best knowledge and experiences and it is not your definitive source for information. If you have any doubts or need additional clarifications, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and other US government agencies are the definitive sources for your questions.