serving the trade community Since 1865


Entry Process

If you are viewing this page, chances are that you are a new importer, and are seeking guidance regarding the clearance of your freight. We hope that you find this information useful and that you will choose to use our services.

Prior to Arrival

If you are a new importer, it is important that we begin working with you prior to the arrival of your shipments to avoid any possible delays, and or additional charges. The first step is that we must obtain from you as required by Customs Regulations. Then, we will assist you in determining what type of customs bond is right for you. We will also determine the proper classification and value to be used on the customs entry when the merchandies arrives. We will also discuss your needs for warehousing and or delivery.


In order for us to clear your shipment, we must have legible copies of the following documents:
  • Bill of Lading or Airway Bill
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Packing List
  • Additional documents may be required depending on the nature of the merichandise.(i.e certificate of origin, TSCA Certification, Agriculture license, etc.)
It is recommended that you advise the shipper that we are your broker, and that they make us the Notify Party on the shipping documents and bill of loading. This will enable the carrier to contact us about the arrival of the freight.

Customs Release of Freight

At this point, we will begin the first step of the release process which is the preparation and filing of Customs Form (CF-3461). Upon approval by Customs, this document enables you to pick up your merchandies from the pier or airport. In most cases, we are able to recieve a paperless release from the Customs ABI system, if not a release is normally received by the next business day.

Caution: Customs may decide to examine your shipment. In this case it will take longer to recieve your cargo, and you will be responsible for the exam charges, which must be paid prior to the pick-up.

Duty Payment

The next step is the preparation of the CF 7501(Entry Summary). Using the valuation and classification that was determined earlier, this form indicates the amount of duty and fees that must be paid to Customs. (You have ten working days, from the date of release to file the CF7501 with the appropriate duty and fees). There are numerous methods that can be used to arrange this payment. You may chose to send us your check drawn to U.S. Customs, wire transfer the funds to our account, or pay by ACH.


This is the final step in the entry process. In this stage, Customs reviews all the paperwork submitted to them for accuracy. If they agree with the papework they will close out the entry. If for some reason they disagree, the may issue a refund or send a bill for additional duties or fees. For additional information please go to the liquidation section of this site.

Additional help can me found on ourFAQ page, or by contacting our office.

Entry Page

Our staff is experienced in the preparation of all types of Customs Entries. We will determine the appropriate type of entry necessary for your merchandise based on 19 CFR Cp. 1, Customs Regulations. Our expertise includes the following types of entries:
  • Formal Entries
  • Informal Entries
  • Transportation Entries (I.T., I.E., T&E;, etc.)
  • Foreign Trade Zone Entries
  • Warehouse Entries
  • Temporary Importation Bonds
  • Personal Effects
  • Quota Entries

Other Government Agencies

In some cases, it is necessary to obtain clearance from other government agencies (OGA's) in addition to U.S. Customs. Cambell & Gardiner's experiece includes the following:
  • FDA (Food & Drug Administration) FDA Paperless Filing
  • FWS (Fish & Wildlife Service)
  • FCC (Federal Communications Commission)
  • EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)


The U.S. Customs Service requires (19 cfr. Chapter 1. Part 113) that a bond is posted for any individual or corporation, who is importing into the United States. A Customs bond is a form of insurance wherein the holder of the bond (principal) states that a certain dollar amount (liability amount) has been pledged as a guarantee of payment when "liquidated damages" (changes in duty, fees, fines, etc.) are assessed. These damages occur when legal and regulatory obligations are not met. Although a bond can be posted in the form of cash (U.S. currency only), most bonds are issued through a U.S. surety company. There are two basic types of bonds:

1. Single Transaction Bonds (STB's) This type of bond is used for the small or occasional importer. It is prepared as needed, and covers only a single customs entry. Then general rule of thumb is that the bond must be for two times the value plus the duty.

2. Continuous Term Bonds Importers that have more than 5 shipments per year most often use this type of bond. This bond is obtained through a surety and covers all imports during the term of that bond. The bond can be renewed on a yearly basis. Due to the variety of regulations covering bonds and the differing requirements placed on specific types of merchandise, bond liability amounts can vary from shipment to shipment. A common liability amount for continuous bonds is $50,000. However, that amount can change depending upon the quantity and value of importations within a given year. Additionally, Customs may increase bond requirements if a particular importer has been assessed an excessive amount of liquidated damages.

Cambell & Gardiner will discuss your options with you, and help you determine which type of bond, fits your needs best. We deal with a number of different sureties to insure that we get you the best premium available for either type of bond.

U.S. Customs has proposed making changes in the required bond amounts. Please view an article in our "Current News" section for more information.


Permit Number 99-00071
On July 19, 2000 Cambell & Gardiner received their National Brokers Permit. This new permit which was enacted with the "New Broker Regulations(Part 111)" on April 14, 2000, enables the firm to participate in the following activities:

Place employees in the facilities of clients that are located in customs broker districts where the broker does not have a district permit, provided the broker is already conducting other customs business for the client elsewhere.

File electronic drawback claims at a designated drawback office in a location where the broker does not have a district permit.

Participate in any operational component of the National Customs Automation Program to conduct customs business electronically within a district for which the broker does not have a district permit.

Ocean Freight Charges

As an indirect effect of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA) of 1999, customs brokers are no longer able to obtain ocean freight charges from the carrier. This information is required on customs entries for two reasons: First, the ocean freight may be included in the sale price and it may or may not be treated as a non-dutiable charge, and secondly it is used for statistical purposes by various government agencies.

In the past, we would call the carrier and they would give us the charges, which we would use when filing the entry. Since we are no longer able to do so, it is now the importers' responsibility to supply this information. As the importer of record, it is your responsibility to use reasonable care, and to provide us with accurate information for your shipments. We recommend you speak to your shippers about this new procedure, and make arrangements for them to provide you with the ocean freight charges, along with the other standard shipping documents that you receive.

Proof of Freight Charges Required

A recent Customs Ruling (HQ 548138 CC) has set forth the following regulations regarding the deduction of freight charges. Freight charges serve two purposes in regards to import transactions:
  1. Determining the dutiable value or the price actually paid or payable for a shipment.
  2. Statistical Purposes.
In cases where the freight charges are not included in the price of the merchandise (i.e. FOB shipment) an estimate of the actual charges is acceptable, since they are solely used for statistical purposes.

However, when the freight is included in the price of the merchandise (i.e. C&F; shipment) these charges must be accurate. It is the importers' responsibility to possess documentary proof, of the freight charges that are being deducted in order to reach the dutiable value of a shipment.

It is the importers' responsibility to use "reasonable Care" when reporting information to U.S. Customs as set forth in the Customs Mod Act. As brokers, it is our responsibility to rely on the accuracy of the information reported by our clients for use in preparation of their Customs entries. In order to insure compliance with all regulations, we will require written advice as to the type and amount of charges associated with your shipments.

If you have any questions, regarding this change in policy, please contact our office. For additional information about the Mod Act and >Reasonable Care please follow these links.

Quota Pre-processing Program (QPP)

Customs has announce the expansion of the QPP to all Customs ports effective October 9, 2002. This program gives importers the opportunity to file quota entries up to five days prior to arrival for ocean shipments, and upon wheels up for air shipments. The expiration of this prototype has been extended to December 31, 2004.

Eligibility Criteria: Entry types (02) and (07)
  • The entry must have atlease one line with items from HTS chapters 61 or 62.
  • Quota category must be less than 90% full.
  • Entry must be filed via ABI system.
  • Duty must be paid via ACH system.
  • Carrier must participate in the AMS system.
Importers must apply for participation in this prototype. If you require assistance with your application, or would like us to apply on your behalf, please , contact our office.