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Filing an Entry

What is a consumption entry?

A consumption entry is a type of entry used when goods are imported for use in the United States and going directly into the commerce of the U.S. without any time or use restrictions placed on them, which covers about 95% of all entries. When we say for use in the United States, we mean for commercial, business or personal purposes.

A consumption entry may be formal or informal depending on the circumstances. However, the majority of consumption entries are formal and the goods that are being imported for commercial purpose and/or "resale", which requires filing an Entry Summary (CBP 7501) and acquiring a CBP bond (CBP 301). This covers a broad range of commodities (i.e. textiles, electronics, food etc.) entering the U.S. For example, a commercial shipment of textiles being shipped from China to a distributor in the United States would be a formal consumption entry. However, if the textiles were going to a warehouse prior to the distributor, a formal warehouse entry would have to be filed.

Consumption entries for goods entering the U.S. as informal entries are not necessarily filed on a CBP 7501. Various forms are used for informal consumption entries and usually no CBP bond (CBP 301) is required. Informal consumption entries generally cover shipments intended for the importers' personal use or commercial goods entering the U.S. via air, ship or mail for consumption that are valued less than $2,000. This does not include commodities subject to other federal agency regulations, most textiles, or goods subject to quota/visa restrictions. For example, a shipment of furniture being shipped from Indonesia to a homeowner in the United States valued at $6,000 would most likely be an informal consumption entry because the goods are intended for their personal use.

In addition to consumption entries, other entry types are used to clear goods entering the United States. Some entry types include warehouse, transportation, temporary importation under bond (TIB), permanent exhibition, trade fair, carnets, drawback, foreign trade zone (FTZ), vessel repair, and appraisement of FTZ's entries.


How do I file a formal entry (for goods valued at more than $2000)?

First you should identify which port your goods will be entering the country through. Call that port and ask to speak to the Commodity Specialist Team (CST) that handles the type of merchandise you are importing. You should have your commercial invoice available when you call. Commercial invoices are not required if the importation is not intended for sale or for certain other situations (please see IIUS, Appendix 1).

Ask for the following information:

The tariff classification number(s) for all the merchandise you are importing, the duty rate(s) for each tariff number, the unit(s) of measurement for each tariff number.

You should also ask if there are any special requirements or forms that apply, for example: quota, visa, FDA, EPA, DOT, and if the merchandise being imported qualifies for any special tariff programs such as GSP or NAFTA. Finally, ask about the limit of liability you will require for a Customs bond, and what type of bond you should get.

No more than a week before the expected arrival of your goods in port, or no later than 10 days after arrival, fill out CBP forms 5106 (Request for Importer Number, or Notification of Importer Number), 7501 (Entry Summary) and Release Document. Purchase a Customs bond (or be prepared to post cash in lieu of bond). Bring the paperwork and bond to the CBP port, entry branch, and ask an entry specialist to review your completed forms.

Submit these documents along with an invoice, packing list if available, shipping documents, and special documents which may be required, and a check drawn on a U.S. bank or cash for payment of duty and fees. The invoice must show tariff classifications(s) and duty rate(s) which must match blocks 30A and 34A on the CBP Form 7501.

The invoice must be in English - handwritten translations are allowed. After filing the entry with Customs and Border Protection (CBP), you will be told how much time will be required for review and processing of your paper work - usually 8 working hours. When the entry documents have been approved, pick them up and take them to the CBP Officers office (closest to where your merchandise is being held). Here again, allow at least 8 working hours for processing. After processing, your release document will either have an Officer's signature authorizing release of the goods, or a stamp designating the shipment for examination. Shipments that require examination may have to be carted - under bond - to an exam site for inspection before release (you will incur a charge for this).

Your entry may not be formally liquidated for up to one year after your goods are released. Until CBP formally liquidates your entry, your bond, or cash, will be held as surety that your importation was not in violation of any U.S. laws or regulations.

*CBP will not notify you when your goods have arrived; this is the carrier's responsibility. If your goods are not picked up within 15 days of arrival, they will be sent to a General Order Warehouse (G.O. Warehouse), where storage charges will add up quickly. The intended recipient of the goods is responsible for paying those charges. After 6 months in the G.O. Warehouse, goods may be sold at auction. Because filing a formal entry is so complicated, CBP suggests you consider hiring a Customs Broker to clear your goods for you.


How do I file an informal entry (for goods valued at less than $2000)?

In general, an informal entry involves the importation of merchandise that does not exceed $2,000 in value. This is not the case for most textiles imported for commercial use, which are, subject to quota.

Informal entries do not require filing a CBP Form 7501 (Entry Summary), posting of a Customs bond, and are liquidated at the time of release. Informal entries are used for both personal and commercial importations. The form used for an informal entry is CBP Form 3461, which is completed by the importer and submitted to CBP.

Informal entries may not be used for commercial importations of goods subject to quota, Anti-dumping or Countervailing duties, nor may they be used for any importations of handmade suits from Hong Kong.

An informal entry may be done on the spot. Once the carrier bringing your goods to the U.S. has notified you of your goods arrival*, you should go to the entry branch of that port's Customs house and inform the staff that you have an informal entry to process and pick-up.

If the goods arrive at a port that is a long distance from you and you have not made arrangements with the shipper to have them freight forwarded to a port near you, or for the carrier (or courier service) to act as consignee in your behalf to clear the goods, you may authorize someone else to clear your goods on a one time basis. This can be done by writing a letter to the CBP Port Director where your goods were delivered, naming the person who you are authorizing to act as your agent, and giving details about the shipment that will verify that you are the rightful owner. Enclose any bills of sale or invoices that apply. When your agent presents him/herself to the port to clear your goods, he/she will be required to present valid identification.

*Customs and Border Protection will not notify you when your goods have arrived; this is the carrier's responsibility. If your goods are not picked up within 15 days of arrival, they will be sent to a General Order Warehouse (G.O. Warehouse), where storage charges will add up quickly. The intended recipient of the goods is responsible for paying those charges. After 6 months in the G.O. Warehouse, goods may be sold at auction.

What is the In-Bond Program?

The In-Bond Program involves cargo entering the country that may be destined to other locations.

An in-bond entry is required when cargo transits to another location for entry, transits the U.S. destined to another country, or is immediately exported


What is Tin-Man?

Tin-Man is the project name for the redesigned in-bond system. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will use this program to determine the compliance level of in-bond movements. It also will contain some automated enhancements to the in-bond system.

Tin-man does statistically valid random inspections at either the port of origin or destination and post-audits of in-bond records, random post audits of all in-bond records at 60 days, random post audits of "open" or unreconciled in-bond records at 90 days, automatic archiving of in-bonds after 6 months, enhanced examination and post-audit result reports at the port and national level, and QP/WP which is a new Automated Broker Interface (ABI) module that allows brokers and carriers to input in-bond movement data and notify CBP of the arrival or closure of the movement.


What are the procedures for Immediate Transportation Entry (IT) and assignment of in-bond numbers?

An Immediate Transportation Entry (IT) is filed with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when imported goods arrive at a U.S. port, with another port in the U.S. as the final destination. An IT must be filed at the first port of arrival in order for an "in-bond" movement to take place. When filing an IT, the importer, Customs Broker or carrier must be bonded to be assigned an in-bond number. Importers that do not have an IRS number are encouraged to have a broker or carrier obtain the in-bond number on their behalf and arrange having the goods sent in-bond to the final destination.

Be aware there may be fees involved for this service. A CBP bond can be obtained from a U.S. Department of the Treasury licensed surety company and in-bond numbers are issued at the ports of entry, which are listed on their Web site. To obtain in-bond numbers, call your local port of entry and ask for the in-bond desk or the in-bond issuance officer. Carriers, Customs Brokers or freight handling operations requesting in-bond numbers are required to supply the following information to the port:

  • CBP filer code or CBP importer number (IRS number reported to CBP) or a SCAC carrier code
  • The quantity of numbers requested (blocks of numbers are assigned by the port ranging from 100 - 500,000 at a time)
  • A return FAX number for receiving numbers


What are the requirements for the manufacturer identification code (MID) and how do I construct one?

Importers and brokers must use reasonable care to accurately construct the MID using the methodology set forth in CBP regulations (as an appendix to 19 CFR 102, or Federal Register [70 FR 58009], dated October 5, 2005). When a single entry is filed for products of more than one manufacturer, the products of each manufacturer must be separately identified. The first two digits of the MID must be the same as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) code for the country of origin of such products. Trading companies, sellers other than manufacturers, etc. cannot be used to create MIDs. Entries and entry summaries in which the first two characters of the MID do not meet the country of origin ISO code, or are created from a company that is known to be a trading house or agent and not a manufacturer, will be rejected for failure to properly construct a MID. If a port has suspicions that a declared MID is not a manufacturer, the port should pursue the correct information post entry. Repetitive errors in the construction of MIDs for entries of textile or apparel products will result in the assessment of broker and importer penalties for failure to exercise reasonable care.

Please see 19 CRF 102 Appendix (APPENDIX TO PART 102—TEXTILE AND APPAREL MANUFACTURER IDENTIFICATION) for complete instructions about constructing a MID.


Can imported goods clear Customs and Border Protection (CBP) from a port other than the first port of arrival? For example, can goods that arrive in Los Angeles be cleared in Miami?

To obtain clearance from Customs and Border Protection on imported goods, entry must be filed at the first port of arrival. To clear goods from a location other than the first port of arrival, an Immediate Transportation Entry (IT) must be filed on a CBP Form 7512 by a Customs Broker, carrier or importer that is bonded with CBP and has either a filer code, SCAC carrier code or importer number (IRS number). An in-bond number must be obtained from the in-bond issuance Officer at the port and put on the CBP Form 7512 prior to being submitted to CBP. Once the goods arrive at the destination port, another type of entry - usually a consumption or warehouse entry - must be filed to get clearance from CBP.


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