The Benefits of Continuous Customs Bonds in Shipping
With so many shipments, there are strict procedures to keep global commerce moving efficiently. Here, you’ll find information on continuous customs bonds.
Last year, the United States imported a massive $2.81 trillion in goods and services from around the globe. With numbers that high, it’s no surprise we are ranked the #1 import country, with #2-ranking China trailing behind at $2.06 trillion.
With so many shipments arriving at our ports, there are strict procedures to keep global commerce moving efficiently. Those procedures come with plenty of paperwork to ensure that all importers follow the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) regulations.
One essential document is the customs bond, which is available in two basic types: single-entry and continuous. But which one is suitable for your shipping needs?
What is a Customs Bond?
When a principal or importer wants to bring freight into the United States, they must file a Customs bond with the CBP.
This document acts as an insurance policy for the CBP by guaranteeing the United States government that they will receive payment for all import fees, duties, and taxes, even in the rare event that a principal cannot provide payment due to bankruptcy or business closure.
It also proves that the shipment meets the requirements outlined by Partnering Government Agencies, which have further regulations for all imports. Principals should be aware of all rules outlined by the following PGAs and their sub-agencies, as provided by Customs and Border Control:
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services
- APHIS Trade
- Food Safety and Inspection Service
- Agriculture Marketing Service
- Foreign Agriculture Service
- Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
- Federal Drug Administration
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Department of Commerce (DOC)
- Environmental Protection Agency
- National Marine Fisheries Service
- Enforcement and Compliance within the International Trade Association
- Office of Textiles and Apparel
- Department of Transportation
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- Department of Justice (DOJ)
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Department of the Interior (DOI)
- Fish and Wildlife Service
- Department of the Treasury
- Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau
In the past, principals had to pay cash when they picked up their imported shipments. Until the transaction was complete, CBP stored the freight and collected storage charges.
Now, you can collect your shipments before making payment, giving you time to calculate the final costs through your surety agency without piling on additional fees.
Do I Need a U.S. Customs Bond?
Every import shipment that comes through a U.S. air or seaport must have a Customs bond unless classified as an “informal entry.”
Per the CBP, “Informal entries do not require a posting of a Customs bond and are liquidated at the time of release. Informal entries are used for both personal and commercial importations.”
Principals cannot register goods regulated by a PGA as an informal entry, even when the value is less than $2,500.
Obtaining a U.S. Customs Bond
Your customs agent will help you fill out your Customs bond application, determine how large the bond should be, and, in some cases, file through the CBP on your behalf.
Depending on the surety and agent you work with, you can finalize your bond in just a couple of days.
Once you’ve received your goods, you are responsible for paying back the surety agency. If you don’t, the agency has the right to sue for reimbursement.
Customs Bond Types
Importers can choose between two basic types of bonds:
Single-entry or Transaction Bonds
Often notated as SEB, a single-entry bond grants one-time entry to the U.S. at the port named in the entry documents. This bond is ideal for principals who import goods only occasionally because the cost of filing for multiple single-entry Bonds can be very costly.
The formula for calculating the cost of a single-entry bond is the value of the imported goods plus all duties, fees, and taxes, with a minimum of $100. For PGA-regulated imports, multiply the value by 3.
Continuous Customs Bonds or Annual Bonds
If you plan to import goods regularly, a continuous bond is more appropriate.
This type covers all shipments through all CBP-regulated ports for 12 months from the issued date.
The bond amount equals 10% of the duties, taxes, and fees that a principal paid during the previous year, with a minimum value of $50,000. Depending on your specific needs, that amount can increase in increments of $10,000 up to $100,000, then in increments of $100,000.
The Benefits of a Continuous Customs Bond
For principals who plan to import goods multiple times per year, the benefits of a continuous Customs bond are undeniable.
First, you can ensure that your imports reach their destination efficiently.
Because annual import bonds are valid for 12 months and automatically renew, you never have to worry about bond issues delaying your deliveries. With a single-entry bond, you’d have to refile each time you’re expecting an import, which can become very tedious.
Additionally, continuous Customs bonds give importers more flexibility in choosing their port of entry.
Once filed, the port listed on a single-entry bond is final. While it might not be a big deal for principals who plan to import only once or twice a year, larger-scale businesses have the convenience of adjusting their ports between shipments.
Finally, the cost of a continuous customs bond is much more affordable than filing multiple single-entry bonds.
Instead of purchasing a single-entry bond that can fluctuate in cost from shipment to shipment depending on the value of the goods, a continuous Customs bond only requires a one-time annual payment of 10% of the previous year’s duties, taxes, and fees.
Invest in Efficiency
Once you’ve decided on the type of U.S. customs bond that works best for your importing needs, keep your SoCal shipments moving efficiently with Coastal Cartage.
We offer a range of services that ensure your goods reach their destination on time and intact, specializing in local residential and commercial deliveries. Reach out to one of our experts in client services, and we’ll get started streamlining your shipping process.