Non-resident importers

The United States, unlike some other countries, permits a non-resident corporation to act as an importer of record for shipments of merchandise from that company to the United States.

The requirements and procedures permitting a non-resident company to act as an importer of record are simple, and for the most part, are the same as those that apply to companies resident in the United States. Although not a requirement of law, most importers utilize the services of a licensed customs broker to prepare and file the entry forms in the name of the importing company pursuant to a power of attorney provided by the importer; licensed brokers are also permitted to file the entry in their own name as an accommodation to their client. Similarly, non-resident companies would hire a licensed customs brokers to assist them in their entry filings.

As is also the case for all importers, a non-resident company must obtain an import bond. The import bond is intended to indemnify the US Government in the event the importer defaults in payment of increased duties or other specified obligations under the terms of the bond. In the event of default, the surety (insurance) company pays the US government on behalf of the importer, up to the bond limits. In such case, the surety company will typically seek to obtain re-imbursement from the importer. Often, the customs broker can assist in obtaining a bond; import bonds are issued by surety companies as either single entry bonds covering one import transaction, or, as a term bond covering multiple importations over a given period of time.

In addition to an entry bond, a non-resident importer must have an agent resident in the state where the port of entry is located, or, in the event of remote filing, where the entry is filed. The agent assumes no liability but must be authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the non-resident company. This requirement is typically met by appointing the licensed customs broker, who is already authorized to file the consumption entry with US Customs in the name of the non-resident company.

United States law requires that all documents submitted to U.S. Customs be complete and accurate in all respects. Among other required information, these documents must fully and completely describe the product[s], including identifying the quantity of imported merchandise, country of origin (production) of all merchandise covered by the shipment, the type of transaction (e.g. sale, consignment, inventory transfer, etc.), currency of purchase, as well as the terms and conditions of sale. The paperwork must also accurately identify the purchase price of the merchandise, including any statutory additions required by law, or if the merchandise is not being sold, the full and complete value of the merchandise declared for Customs purposes.

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