In this second part about best practices and need to knows when importing freight, I will cover the importance of information in the import process, supplier importance, your internal team set up, documentation, and what should be included on invoices. In yesterday’s post I covered the introduction to best practices when importing freight covering the important rules, so make sure you give it a read as well. While Cerasis does not directly offer products and services as an international freight forwarder,our affiliates and partners do, as well as Chuck can lead you to the best international freight forwarder through his consultancy. Cerasis focuses on the freight management for shippers in North America, specifically using freight technology, a TMS, to automate process in the shipment of LTL, TL, and Small Package freight.
To manage imports effectively, the business community needs to have a better mechanism for managing information flow. You need an automated system for information flow that uses a central database so that you can manage all the way through the supply chain. If you manage your information flow and supply chain from a security point of view, the long-range benefits will outweigh the short-term costs in the process of importing freight.
Importing freight starts with a purchase order to an offshore supplier. The supplier has to get things right so problems are solved in advanced and this will eliminate delays. Whatever the approach, working with suppliers will become even more important to importers, as it is a crucial part of the C-TPAT certification process.
When the Supplier gets ready to ship, they should work with Freight forwarder to consolidate the goods into a container load.
Port strikes do occur and have to be managed by all parties involved in importation. The customer, at times, has to visit the port to where the vessel is sent to and work with longshoremen and steamship lines to expedite their shipment right on the spot. At Schwinn, I was the International Purchasing Manager and Import Manager and flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia to expedite bicycle parts for Schwinn’s assembly line during the New York dock strike. The ships were lined up for miles in Halifax, and efforts to get around it were a challenge, but being on there certainly helped.
Select forwarders and brokers that will work on their own process improvement when importing freight, and challenge you and your organization to do the same. Then measure their performance, such as evaluating how long it takes the freight forwarder to turn documents over to the customs broker, and how fast the broker clears shipments.
Additionally, provide effective oversight of your providers. About ten years ago, Customs changed the rules of the game with the Customs Modernization Act. This included the concept we now know as ‘reasonable care.
Many companies have not recognized what reasonable care has done in shifting responsibility to the importer. They still lean heavily on their broker, and may not recognize that they’re ultimately liable if the broker makes a mistake. Importers must select and manage brokers carefully, and use the broker as a source of information rather than as the ultimate decision-maker.
International trade skills are an important part of a logistics or supply chain manager’s knowledge. “Logistics managers need to control the timing and cost of moving goods across the border,” Gould says.
He urges logisticians to get smart about imports. Take courses, and look at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection web site and stay abreast of the state-of-the–art in importation!
And study INCOTERMS for translation of where responsibility for imports lie.
The following import documents shall be submitted with an import declaration, as far as applicable:
Invoices shall contain the following information:
Importing freight, while may seem complicated, can easily be mastered by following the fundamental best practices. What thoughts would you like to share when importing freight not discussed in this two part series. Let me know in the comments below, or shoot me an email to discuss further.
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