Bond and shipping charges USA

Question

After having exported an artwork to the US I have just been hit with an un-expected bill for nearly $4500.00 in addition to the original shippers fee.
The charge is made up of:
Merchandise Processing fee $485
Single entry bond fee $1819
Airline Storage fee $1960
This is not my first export but I have never heard of these fees before.
My questions are
Should the shipper have included these fees in his charge, or at least made me aware of them?
The storage fee is because the shipper filled in the documents incorrectly, shouldn’t he be responsible for that?
What is a Merchandise processing fee?

Answer

Hi, the Bond Fees and Mechandise Storage fees are charges which are associated with the process of clearing the goods though customs in the USA. This is separate from import duties; these charges usually apply when goods are too high in value to allow a simplified customs clearance process to be used, and relate to the full customs clearance process. These would be charges that you would expect to pay if you have sold the goods under Delivered Duty Paid terms, in other words if you have agreed to pay the import duty and customs clearance charges in the USA as part of your contract with the buyer. If that is the case, and if you made this clear to the forwarder when you got the quotation, I would expect them to include these fees in the quotation. Please bear in mind that a forwarder or shipping company would not normally automatically know what terms you have agreed with your client, so you should explain the situation clearly, if you want an accurate and comprehensive quotation.

As to why you have not head of these fees before, it may be if you have not shipped to the USA before, but to other countries; alternatively, if you have sold previously to the USA, but your goods were of lower value they may not have applied.

One way to avoid this in the future is to sell the goods "Delivered at Place" – this makes the buyer responsible for all import duty, taxes and customs clearance charges.

As to the storage fees; in theory if the shipping company made an error in the customs entry or documentation, they should expect to pay the consequences; however, shipping companies rely on clients to provide complete and accurate information, so there may be more to this than is evident. I would suggest you ask them for a detailed explanation of why they feel that it is your responsibility to pay this fee.

Answer

Hi Gary,

It looks like this was a sale to the US but if you ever send your art overseas to an exhibition, where you expect the goods to be returned to the UK, you may wish to consider applying for an ATA Carnet document. There are some rules and conditions to understand but if suitable for any overseas trips your goods make the document saves you having to pay import and export duties.

It’s not suitable for overseas sales though, so I agree with Mike that it’s key to understand your terms of sale.

Ian.

Answer

Thank you, I guess I’ll have to put it down to experience and a useless shipping agent.

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