Import Process Overview
The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) is the United States’ primary border enforcement organization. CBP is responsible for protecting and facilitating cross border trade by assessing and collecting duties, taxes, and other fees incident to international trade and verifying incoming items comply with US import regulations. All incoming items to the US must be declared to, and subsequently released by, CBP before they can be delivered to their destination.
When items are shipped to the US they must be authorized by the CBP and any duties and taxes must be paid before the items can be released, or cleared, through Customs. Multiple federal agencies regulate the importation of specific items (explanations below). In some cases these agencies require the importer to request permission prior to allowing the goods into the country. If the items are subject to any of the various import regulations, CBP will verify that any permits, permissions, or exemptions have been obtained.
This process, commonly known as customs clearance, is completed by using a commercial invoice, carrier authorization (air waybill, ocean bill of lading, truck or rail manifest), and any necessary import permits or regulatory documents to file an entry manifest with CBP. This manifest provides CBP with the data necessary to assess duties and taxes on the goods, and once these have been paid the goods are released for delivery.
Customs clearance formalities will typically be completed by the carrier or an agent of the carrier, however for regulated items or unusual circumstances NC State University has a signed power of attorney with a licensed Customs Broker that specializes in customs clearance procedures. If you are importing an item that is subject to one of the regulating agencies listed below, or your import requires special attention, contact firstname.lastname@example.org to access the Customs Broker’s services.
What do you want to Import?
- Animals, Animal products, Items exposed to Animal source material (USDA-APHIS)
- Plants, soil, plant pests, and plant products (USDA-PPQ)
- Food, Drugs, Medical Products, Cosmetics, and Tobacco Products (FDA)
- Human Pathogens, Infectious Substances, and Vectors of Human Disease (CDC)
- Chemicals (EPA)
- Defense Articles / Military Items (DDTC & ATF)