Hidden Costs That Can Sap Your Bottom Line While Importing Into The United States
So there you are, after months of painstaking research and hours upon hours of development and negotiation, your first shipment has landed in the United States with all the promise of untold profits and growth. That's when you receive the phone call that brings you back to reality. "Your shipment has been scheduled for an Non-Intrusive Imaging (NII) exam"your custom broker calmly explains.
NII exams commonly referred to as x-ray or Vacis exams are performed daily in ports all across the United States, and are designated randomly and are totally unavoidable. The costs average around $250 per container and can take up to two weeks to complete, depending on the amount of containers scheduled for the x-ray exam.
A Non-Intrusive Imaging exam was not part of the discussion when you were negotiating the terms of sale with your overseas supplier.
Can you imagine explaining to your new client why their first shipment is going to arrive a week to two weeks later than you promised. Rubbing salt into the wound, you also now have to pay an additional $250 just for the pleasure.
Steering through the unforeseen challenges of importing into the United States can seem daunting. With a professional team in place surprises are eliminated and the unforeseen challenge is handled efficiently and effectively.
So what are some of the steps you should take to deal with possible delays and additional costs? The first step is to acknowledge that they exist. Once you come to terms with the fact that you are not exempt from problems, planning for them becomes that much easier.
Some key suggestions:
- Determine the best ports of entry for your goods. Los Angeles is one of the busiest ports in the world and the back log of containers to be examined can stretch for weeks. Oakland and Seattle are good alternatives, usually have lower fees and are serviced by the major rail lines.
- Subsume possible delays into your projected delivery dates. This will allow for a surprised and happy client when the goods arrive a few days earlier than anticipated. If there are delays the client is still assured of receiving the goods around the time you promised.
- Present the documents to your customs broker in advance of the vessel arriving. Customs brokers are allowed to transmit shipment information 5 days in advance of the vessel arriving in port, meaning the goods can be pre-cleared and ready to go once the container becomes available.
- Have your designated carrier on alert and make sure the container is picked up, delivered and returned to the terminal depot within their time frames to avoid costly demurrage and per diem fees.
As with most unexpected surprises, a good contingency plan will take the sting out and give you the opportunity to still realize some of the rewards you imagined when you started to develop your business plan.