Import documentation and general customs clearance procedure
8.2 General customs clearance
The documents used in the binoculars
and telescopes import business with us are highly important.
There are three basic documents you must understand
and use correctly: air waybill or bill of lading, commercial
invoice and packing list.
， Air waybill
The air waybill is used for the
air shipment which serves as:
， documentary evidence of the conclusion
of a contract of carriage
， proof of receipt of the goods for shipment
， an invoice for the freight
， a certificate of insurance
， guide to airline staff for the handling, dispatch
and delivery of the consignment.
The air waybill is usually completed by our freight
forwarder. The document consists of three originals
and nine copies. The first original is intended for
the carrier and is signed by our state-owned export
agent; the second original, the consignee's copy, is
signed by our export agent and accompanies the goods;
the third original is signed by the carrier and is handed
to our export agent as a receipt for the goods after
they have been accepted for carriage.
Since it is sent with the air shipment
by the same plane, the air waybill is usually associated
with wire transfer advance payment. With air waybill
number given, you can track the shipment online.
， Bill of lading
A bill of lading is used for the
sea shipment. It is:
， A certificate of ownership to
As such, it must be produced at
the port of final destination by the importer (you)
in order to claim the goods. As a document of title,
the bill of lading is also a negotiable document and
you may sell the goods by endorsing or handing over
the bill of lading to another authorized party, even
while the goods are still at sea. Although negotiable
bills of lading are in common use, some countries do
not allow them or make it difficult to be used. So,
you have to be sure that negotiable B/L is accepted
in your country. Otherwise, non-negotiable B/L is issued.
， A contract between the shipper
(our export agent and us) and the shipping line which
defines in detail the terms for the carriage of goods
from the sea port (Guangzhou) to your destination sea
， A formal, signed receipt for
a specified number of packs which is given to the our
export agent by the shipping line when the shipping
line receives the consignment. If the cargo is apparently
in good order and properly packed when received by the
shipping line, the bill of lading which the shipping
line issues, is termed 'clean'. The ship-owner thus
admits full liability for the cargo described in the
bill. In most cases, clean bill of lading is required.
Clean bill of lading is usually
associated with letter of credit transaction. With the
B/L number or container number given, you can track
the shipment online.
， Commercial invoice
The commercial invoice indicates
the quantity and description of the goods, the loading
port and destination port, the mode of transportation,
the country of origin, the price per unit and total
cost of the goods. The commercial invoice is provided
by our export agent.
， Packing list
The packing list indicates the number
of packs involved, the contents of each pack and the
individual weights and dimensions. This list enables
you to check that the correct number of units has been
received. Customs authorities can also easily identify
a specific pack they wish to inspect. The packing list
is provided by our export agent.
Apart from these three documents,
to some countries, and depending on the price terms
and the packing materials used for the binoculars and
telescopes, there are several other documents that are
， Proforma Invoice
After receiving a quotation from
us, the importer (you) may request a proforma invoice
which is a preliminary invoice and is prepared prior
to shipment or even before a firm order has been received.
The purpose is to enable you to obtain an import license
(if required) or a letter of credit. In some countries,
proforma invoice is a required document for customs
clearance. The proforma invoice is provided by our export
， Fumigation certificate
Fumigation certificate is required
as proof that the packing materials e.g. wooden crates,
wood, wool etc), have been fumigated or sterilized.
Certificates contain details such as purpose of treatment,
articles concerned, temperature range used, chemicals
and concentration used etc.
In our case, we often use pallets
to bundle the packs of binoculars and we find it's the
best measure taken for protecting binoculars from being
out of collimation. We'll ask Chinese Commodity Inspection
Bureau (CCIB) to apply the treatment to the wood pallets
to ensure that the pallets used are free of insect or
Please note that in some countries
like Australia, fumigation treatment is not required
for air shipment, but required for sea shipment. So,
please check with your customs broker or the local customs
The fumigation certificate is issued
by CCIB and costs USD 90$/shipment.
， Certificate of Origin, GSP certificate
or Origin (Form A)
In some countries, optical instruments
claiming preferential treatment in respect of tariffs
require proof of origin. Certificate of origin is provided
by CCIB or CCPIT, GSP certificate of origin is provided
， Insurance certificate
For air shipment, air waybill serves
as insurance certificate; for sea shipment, insurance
certificate is issued as evidence of the existence of
the marine insurance policy. The marine insurance policy
is a contract between the assured and the insurer, and
its principal purpose is to define the terms of the
agreement between the assured and the insurer.
Based on the CIF price term, insurance
certificate is required for customs clearance in some
General customs clearance tips
， Find a customs broker
To different countries, import customs
clearance procedure may differ. In some countries, The
customs service does not require an importer to have
a license or permit and an individual may make his own
customs clearance of goods imported for personal use
or business. You'd better, however, have a licensed
customs broker (or freight forwarder) act as the clearing
agent for you unless you're very familiar with the import
customs clearance formalities in your country.
Therefore, the first tip is to find
a licensed customs broker who can work with you on a
long-term basis. They are especially valuable to you
when your business is not located in the destination
air/sea port which is usually the port of entry - if
you're unable to be there to prepare and file your entry,
the customs broker may act as your agent, pick up and
deliver the shipment to your door. The customs broker
could be found by personal referrals, looking in the
local yellow pages, or running a search online.
， Know the documentation required
for customs clearance in your country
In all countries, three documents
are required for customs clearance:
Billing lading (air waybill)
For the imported merchandise of
binoculars and telescopes, depending on the packing
materials and different customs regulations in different
countries, the documents below may be also required:
Certificate of origin
GSP certificate of origin
Work with your customs broker to
find out what kinds of documents are required for your
local customs clearance, and then tell us, so we can
provide and prepare the relevant documents at our end.
， Inform the date of arrival
The customs service does not notify
you of the arrival of your shipment. Notification is
usually made by the carrier of the goods. With the air
waybill no. or B/L no. given, you may track the shipment
online to get the date of arrival. You or your clearing
agent may recheck with the local office of the carrier
to be sure there is no unexpected delay with the flight
no. or the ship name.
The purpose is to enter the imported
binoculars and telescopes through customs in a timely
manner. The customs services in most countries stipulate
that all goods declared must be downloaded and entered
within 7-15 days after the arrival of the importing
ship. Failure to do so will result in the goods to be
conveyed to a general customs warehouse to be held as
unclaimed. You're responsible for storage charges which
are incurred while unclaimed binoculars and telescopes
are held at the warehouse. If it remains unclaimed at
the end of 3-6 months, the merchandise is sold at auction.
If, due to the unexpected reasons
in some countries, a long delay in the clearing procedures
is expected, Goods are placed in the bonded areas before
going through clearing procedures. Bonded areas are
warehouses under the control of customs authorities,
Customs duties are not paid unless goods are taken out
of the bonded area.
， Submit the documents and apply
for the Customs Declaration Form
For air shipment, the documents
are sent to you or your clearing agent with the cargo
on the same plane and arrive at the destination airport
at the same time. Upon arrival, you'd better provide
the documents to your clearing agent immediately. With
the correct documentation, the Customs Declaration Form
For sea shipment, the documents
are sent by our bank to your bank. Upon arrival of the
documents, you bank will inform you that you should
pay to get the documents. After the payment is made,
you or your clearing agent obtain the documents to apply
for the Customs Declaration Form before the goods arrives
at the destination sea port.
， Download the goods and proceed
to the customs
When the goods arrive at the port,
the goods should be listed in a document that lists
all goods present on the shipment. Only if the goods
are listed, they can be downloaded and a delivery order
issued. The delivery order is a document issued by the
shipping company which states the price to be paid for
In our case, based on CIF (cost,
insurance and freight), there is no problem for the
issuing of the delivery order.
， Clear the goods
In order to clear the goods, relevant
documents should be presented. Goods are given a "Customs
Entry" document that contains the number of the
shipment and its value. At this stage, the clearing
agent identifies customs and duties to be paid and completes
the Customs Declaration Form. In some countries, clearance
procedures are normally done directly in the customs
broker's office using electronic communication systems
directly connected with the local Customs Authorities.
If the goods do not go through clearance after being
downloaded from the ship/plane, they must be placed
in bonded areas. If goods go through clearance and there
are delays during the clearing procedures, you might
pay demurrage and storage fees.
The dutiable value of merchandise
is determined by Customs. Generally, the transaction
value of the merchandise serves as the basis of appraisement.
Transaction value is the price the you actually pay
us for the binoculars and telescopes being imported.
The customs will examine the goods to determine the
value of the goods for customs purposes and their dutiable
status. Examination may usually be made on the docks,
at container stations, or cargo terminals.
Customs duties rate is a percentage
which is applied to the dutiable value of the imported
goods. Work with your customs broker to check your local
tariff schedule and duty on the binoculars and telescopes.
For APEC (Asian Pacific Economic Community) countries,
the import duty rate on binocular and telescopes can
be checked online on APEC Tariff Database (http://www.apectariff.org/).
For other countries, you can get clue on Customs Tariffs
of the world (http://customs-tariff.freeyellow.com/).
， Pick up the goods
After the goods are released, you
or your customs broker will pick up the goods, and deliver
to your premise.
And don't forget to set up an easy-to-use
record keeping system. In some countries like U.S.,
records regarding any import must be maintained for
five years. Failure to produce these records in response
to a reasonable request from customs may result in penalty.