Frequently Asked Questions

Exporting FAQs

What paperwork is required for export transportation services?

The standard document set includes a Commercial Invoice and Packing List. Additional documents may be required, based on factors such as the country of destination or commodity being shipped.

What is a Schedule B Number?

A Schedule B Number is a 10 digit identification number used to identify commodities for export. Need help classifying your commodity? Visit:

What are Incoterms?

Incoterms are a series of pre-defined commercial terms published by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) relating to international commercial law. They are widely used in international commercial transactions or procurement processes and their use is encouraged by trade councils, courts and international lawyers.

What is an ATA Carnet and what is it used for?

An ATA Carnet is an international Customs document which allows the temporary importation of commercial samples, professional equipment, or exhibit materials. It is valid for 1 year and is used to gain relief from some customs, duty, and taxes that are levied against imported items.

Can Griffin & Company Logistics help me to ship my personal belongings or car overseas?

Our focus is on the shipping of commercial goods for businesses. Unfortunately, we do not handle personal effects shipments.

Does Griffin & Company Logistics offer cargo insurance?

In most cases, Griffin & Company Logistics can offer all risk, door to door insurance at an additional cost that is based on the cargo type and value. Please ask us for more details.

Importing FAQs

What is a Customs Broker?

Customs brokers are licensed and regulated experts that are empowered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to assist importers with meeting government requirements governing imports. They have expertise in entry procedures, admissibility requirements, classification and other areas associated with the import process.

Do I need a Customs Broker to clear my goods through Customs and Border Protection (CBP)?

CBP’s website states “There is no legal requirement for you to hire a Customs Broker to clear your goods.” However, many importers opt to do so for the convenience. Customs Brokers are licensed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to conduct CBP business on behalf of importers. They take the burden of filling out paperwork and obtaining a CBP bond off the importer’s hands. The importer is always ultimately responsible for knowing CBP requirements.

What paperwork is required for U.S. Customs Brokerage services?

Document requirements for a Customs entry vary but, in general and at a minimum, an entry is to be presented to Customs containing a commercial invoice, packing list, bill of lading or air waybill and immediate transportation (IT) information if it did not arrive in port direct. Other Participating Government Agency (PGA) information (for example, Food and Drug Administration, Fish & Wildlife etc.), forms or licenses may also be required depending on the commodity.

Why do you need a Customs Power of Attorney in order to file an entry for me?

A Customs power of attorney is a written authorization to a grantee to perform certain acts relating to the filing of an entry. A Customs Broker is required, by Federal regulations, to have a properly executed one on hand before transacting Customs business on behalf of an Importer.

What is a surety bond?

Is a type of bond that is required for almost all formal CBP entries valued at $2,500 or more, and may be required for some informal entries valued under $2,500. Bonds guarantee that the government will collect their duty since the goods are most often released to the consignee prior to duty payment. Surety bonds are also used for the activities of CBP warehouse proprietors, carriers, cartage operators, masters of vessels, drawback filers, etc…

What is a Harmonized Tariff Number (HTN)?

It is a number that is used by Customs in the classification of merchandise. It determines the applicable tariff rate and statistical categories for all merchandise imported into the United States and is based on an internationally agreed upon system of nomenclature.

When is duty due?

Duty to CBP is to be paid within 10 business days after release, however, customarily it is paid 8 business days from release.

Do I need to declare a value even if my shipment is a sample with no commercial value?

Yes, a value needs to be declared on all shipments. If transaction value cannot be used the importer should base their valuation on the value of identical goods before considering another valuation method.

What is Importer Security Filing -ISF?

It is a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulation that requires importers and vessel operating carriers to provide additional advance trade data to CBP for non-bulk cargo shipments arriving into the United States by ocean vessel. For containerized freight this data is required to be transmitted to CBP 24 hours prior to vessel loading overseas. Failure to file timely may result in a $5,000.00 penalty to the importer of record.

How do I obtain a binding ruling for tariff classification?

Contact a licensed Customs Broker for assistance or apply for one from CBP direct. In order to apply for one directly from CBP go to

What are INCO Terms (International Commercial Terms)?

Incoterms® are internationally recognized terms of agreement. They govern the buying and selling goods around the world. When negotiating an international purchase the seller and buyer should agree to an Incoterm® to govern the transaction. The term agreed to should appear on the commercial invoice. They determine who is responsible for the origin fees, transportation, insurance and when the title of the goods changes hands. Incoterms® are generally accepted rules for international trade drawn up by the International Chamber of Commerce. They are not law nor binding. When buying goods, we recommend E or F Terms. When selling goods, we recommend C Terms.

Overview of the entry process:

  1. All transportation and clearance documents should be sent to the Customs Broker for entry filing prior to the shipment arriving at destination.
  2. Entry is electronically filed by Griffin and Company’s staff through CBP’s ACE system.
  3. After review Customs either releases the goods electronically or issues an exam notice.
  4. Customs release documents are issued by CBP.
  5. With release documents in hand the shipment can be delivered!
  6. If an exam is required the goods are transferred to an exam site.
  7. Once the exam is completed, goods are released or subject to further processing to bring them into customs compliance. Marking with country of origin being the most common.
  8. Duty is paid to CBP within 10 days of cargo release.
  9. An Entry is “officially” done when it liquidates in approximately 340 days after release.

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