The Key to Running and Export/Import Business — Customs Compliance

A high stack of shipping containers next to a rig and a large ship Working with customs laws and regulations requires attention to detail and constant monitoring of changes and modifications to current laws. As a business that takes on the responsibility of bringing in and exporting goods across borders, there is a responsibility of making sure you are in compliance with U.S customs law. Simply ensuring your compliance is an essential part of making sure your business stays open and profitable. We thought we’d take a look at some important compliance issues and some recent news about customs laws that might be of interest to people in the business. 

As we mentioned, in customs, laws are liable to change, as are regulations. Every new administration might mean new trade policies or restrictions that cause the entire export/import business to adjust and comply. This is why having a professional help you through customs is essential for the longevity of your business. 

Let’s start here. So what is the major role of customs and border protection? 

This agency has a great many roles including—broadly speaking—as the primary gatekeeper into the United States. That is, they monitor and ensure that everything that comes into the country is safe, legal, accounted for, and permitted. After the Customs Modernization Act of 1993, the lifeblood that runs through the export and import business is that of informed compliance and shared responsibility. This means that the onus is on the importer himself to learn the laws and abide by them, as well as record and track their own goods. 

 As far as the tasks that are relevant to your export/import business they include:

  • Intercepting the flow of illegal goods in the United States
  • Collecting tariffs
  • Regulating exports
  • Collecting data on imports
  • Enforcing the law of incoming and outgoing goods 

Changes to Note in the Trump Administration 

The Trump DOJ has a harsher implementation of matters relating to customs and has sought much more criminal penalties. They have sought these penalties through existing provisions in the customs laws as well as what are often called non-Customs provisions, like matters of obstruction of justice. By seeking out non-customs provisions as a way to seek criminal penalties for violations, the Trump administration has shown its serious attitude towards the non-compliant importing of goods into the country. 

A Few Key Things to Keep In Mind

Learn Import Restrictions and Foreign Import Regulations

As we mentioned, the law in 1993 placed a great responsibility on the importer. So it is important to hire someone that has the experience and knowledge of the CBP regulations but also knowing them yourself. 

Congress passed the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement in 2016, which was one of the most overhauling changes in Customs rules since the 93 regulation. It changed a whole many things including policies on intellectual property. The digital age has definitely presented new problems and questions regarding the flow of goods today—given that the flow of goods and valuable intellectual property can now cross borders through the digital realm. 

Good Record Keeping is a Life Saver — Good Records Means Good Compliance

In order to ensure that you and your clients are protected, accurate and efficient record keeping is an invaluable asset to your company and business short term and long term. Keeping track of product orders, transportation logs, product manifests, means that you have the capacity to prove that you have been in compliance in the event that a problem or question by CBP might arise. 

Know What is Legal and What is Not

This one means understanding the legalities of certain goods and products from the outset so there is no confusion. The best way is to familiarize yourself with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and understanding some of the most common mistakes. One common mistake is bribery and sometimes it is done without full knowledge of what is in the books. So it is key to understand what is allowed and what isn’t before moving forward with your business and putting your entire enterprise at risk. 

Current Industry Trends and Things to Look Out For 

As always, global markets are dictated by supply and demand but indirectly through cultural changes and other trends that might drive up the demand for a certain good or product. According to CustomNews, exports of leather and footwear are likely to reach US 21. 5 Billion dollars. During the first months of 2019, they reported, the output of leather shoes stood at an estimated 246.4 million pairs. That’s certainly a lot of leather shoes but it shows important trends in the market. 

Stay Compliant and Keep Your Business Strong

The key to keeping your import/export business up and running is simply to be informed and stay compliant. Here at RM Custom House Brokers, we study the industry, follow the changes, and simplify the process for you. We do the footwork in order to ensure that your imports or outgoing goods are in full compliance and following the law. We take care of the record-keeping and help protect your business from any issues down the line. Give us a call today to find out more about how we can help your business grow.