Customs Clearance of Goods into the United States

What do we do here anyways?

The United States is a free-market country. This means, along with other implications, that merchandise grown, mined or manufactured in foreign lands may enter the commerce of the U.S. to be consumed as unique products, or to compete side by side with similar domestic products. A free market does not mean, however, that foreign products may enter the U.S. exempt from the laws of the land. We do in fact guard our borders via U.S. Customs & Border Protection. The laws governing importations and proof of their compliance are much more complex than the laws governing American business. This proof of compliance is largely accomplished through customs brokers acting on the behalf of an importer (or foreign exporter). The primary activity of a Licensed Customs Broker is to use the knowledge of the U.S. Customs Regulations (law), plus the Regulations of Other Government Agencies that govern Imports, to ensure that a client imports product at the lowest lawful cost, with the least amount of regulatory impediment or “red tape,” and further, to arrange payment of the duty payable to U.S. Customs & Border Protection. A customs broker is the link between commerce and the government. The growth and sophistication of the customs brokerage industry provides U.S. Customs with a knowledgeable, responsible legion of professionals to place between themselves and the vastly larger legion of less informed (about import law), market oriented, traders of foreign products.

As an ABI, ACH, FDA Paperless, RLF, C-TPAT, Approved Filer, Member of NBCBA (Northern Border Customs Brokers Assn, Inc.) and NCBFAA, Near North Customs Brokers US, Inc. will ensure your goods clear Customs as expeditiously as possible regardless of the Port of Entry or means of transportation, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Although we are proficient at clearing shipments at every port in the United States, we specialize in the processing of Northern Border shipments. A unique circumstance exists in commercial transactions between Canada and the United States. The Canadian company that exports product to the U.S. generally takes the responsibility for the importation into the U.S. The foreign exporter becomes a non-resident “Importer of record”. This helps Canadian companies compete side by side with U.S. companies selling similar product, but mandates that cross-border entry processing be lightening fast and efficient.

Quick, effective, personalized service

We ensure that your goods are cleared as quickly as possible. 98% of our shipments are processed within 20 minutes of receipt of the documents. No other customs broker offers service as expeditiously. With the help of the most customs compliant software available at SmartBorder.com, our qualified staff will see to it that all of the U.S. government’s many requirements and our clients’ expectations are met.

To ensure the accuracy and uniformity of your customs entries, we have computerized profiles for all accounts. This way, you are assured that your entry information is consistently applied. Plus if you prepare your documents using the Client Side login of SmartBorder.com you ensure your shipment data is being chosen from the same data we use for submission of your entries to Customs. This includes the tariff classification, product descriptions, NAFTA application, country of origin, FDA data, plus much more.

Tariff Classification


Tariff classification is the key to establishing the rate of duty of imported items and in determining their eligibility under preferential trade agreements. All commercial and ProForma invoices must contain the ten-digit H.S. classification for all products on the shipment, at time of Customs release. Erroneous classification can result in penalties, redelivery requests or loss of import entry privileges.

Tariff classification of imported goods should only be undertaken by someone possessing an in-depth knowledge of the Customs Tariff and its legal and interpretative rules. Count on Near North’s experts to determine the tariff classification of your imported goods and manage your compliant classification database.


Free trade agreements such as the NAFTA grant importers substantial or even complete elimination of customs duties on qualifying goods. In order to benefit from the advantages afforded under a free trade agreement, importers must ensure that their imported goods are covered by valid certificates of origin. If called upon, exporters issuing free trade certificates of origin must be prepared to provide to the Customs authorities, satisfactory evidence that the goods qualify under the rules of origin. Count on Near North’s experts to help you interpret Free Trade Agreements Rules of Origin and help you determine the originating status of a good. Companies that wish to benefit from the preferential tariffs afforded under a free trade agreement, such as the NAFTA must ensure they have in their possession a valid certificate of origin at the time of importation.

Customs and NAFTA compliance audits

Customs Compliance is enforced through periodic spot check verifications, full audits and the imposition of penalties for failure to comply. Near North’s experts have guided many clients through this arduous process. Our approach to Customs Compliance addresses those areas that Customs have identified as problematic, which are: internal processes and controls (record-keeping) related to customs activities; tariff classification; customs valuation; the proper application of NAFTA tariff treatments; and the quality of the import documentation supplied to Customs. Ask us before Customs asks you! We can review your current practices and guide you to full customs compliance well before Customs calls on you.