June 2, 2020  
Gaebler.com is a daily online magazine covering small business news. We help entrepreneurs transform ideas and innovations into greatness.

Articles for Entrepreneurs


Articles on Importing


Import Business Forms and Paperwork

An import business can be a great business model for ambitious entrepreneurs. But before you start placing orders, you'll need to get a handle on the avalanche of forms and paperwork that are standard operating procedure in importing.

Importing plays a vital role in today's global marketplace.

For entrepreneurs, importing is an attractive business option because it offers the potential for profit and unlimited growth opportunities. Even existing business owners find themselves drawn into the importing game as a way to achieve vertical integration.

But creating a successful import business model isn't as easy as it sounds. In addition to securing international suppliers and domestic buyers, importers are required to navigate a complex system of regulations and customs requirements. Freight forwarders and customs brokers facilitate the process, but ultimately import business owners themselves are responsible for the safe, efficient, and legal delivery of their merchandise.

One of the most daunting tasks for new importers is the successful completion of import forms and paperwork. In the U.S., imports are regulated by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP). Reorganized after 9/11, this agency is primarily tasked with keeping unwanted shipments and people out of the country. But they are also responsible for overseeing much of the paperwork you will be required to complete as an importer, including the following documents and forms.

Customs Automated Commercial System (ACS)

To streamline the process, CBP has created the Customs Automated Commercial System (ACS). This is an electronic documentation process that reduces import time delays from days to hours or in some cases, minutes. Carriers, brokers, and importers are permitted to use the system, and it's something you'll need to become familiar with if you're serious about importing.

Importer Security Filing (ISF)

Recently, CBP has instituted a requirement for importers to file an ISF document at least 24 hours before shipments leave their country of origin. Also known as "10+2", this form is designed to "push out" U.S. borders so CBP can identify threatening cargo before it gets anywhere near the U.S.

Formal Entry vs. informal entry

Normal cargo with a value less than $2,000 may be excluded from formal import documentation requirements. All other imports are considered "formal entry" and require the following documentation:

  • Entry manifest (Customs form 7533)
  • Bill of lading or carrier certificate (as evidence of right to make entry)
  • Commercial invoice
  • Packing list
  • Surety bond documentation

Related Articles

Want to learn more about this topic? If so, you will enjoy these articles:

Setting Up An Import Business
Transportation And Shipping Tips For Your Import Business
Trade Restrictions

Conversation Board

We greatly appreciate any advice you can provide on this topic. Please contribute your insights on this topic so others can benefit.

Questions, Comments, Tips, and Advice  Code Image - Please contact webmaster if you have problems seeing this image code
Problem Viewing Image
Load New Code



Additional Resources for Entrepreneurs

Search Engine Marketing

Social Marketing Optimization

Business Forms

Business in the Jungle - Business in Fiction - Negotiating

Radio Ad Costs

Newspaper Advertising Rates

City-Specific Resources for Entrepreneurs

Small Business Insurance

Global Entrepreneurship

China & Entrepreneurs