What are the methods of customs inspection in the United States? How long does each inspection take?
作者: Guanghe Logistics

The customs inspection method for shipping containers in the United States has always been relatively mysterious, and many cross-border sellers are unaware of the inspection process. Today, we will explain the mysteries and processes involved

Generally speaking, the inspection in the United States is a closed container inspection, which only shows whether the inspection is completed or not. Generally, there is no notification of the inspection process or which goods have been inspected. As long as one shipment of goods in the container is inspected, the entire container will be seized by US customs. The entire container will not be released until the inspection of this shipment is completed, and many cross-border e-commerce sellers have also been implicated, However, as long as your goods comply with US customs regulations, the inspection time is also very fast. Of course, it does not rule out some problematic or non compliant goods, which will take a longer time. For example, suspected counterfeit, infringing, textile goods, electrified goods, and safety goods, the inspection rate is also high.

There are a total of four common inspection methods in the United States, which can be said to cover more than 95% of the entire inspection of goods in the United States. These four types of inspections are

VACIS EXAM (Basic Inspection)

CET (Machine Scan Inspection)

Tail Gate (open cabinet inspection)

MET (manual inspection)

Of course, there are other methods of inspection, but the probability is almost rare. It can be said that there is not necessarily a special inspection, such as sampling and testing, for inspecting 500 shipments.

VACIS EXAM (Basic Inspection): It is the most basic inspection method of the United States Customs, which requires the shipper to provide relevant documents (including customs manifests and clearance documents) for customs clearance review;

This kind of inspection is similar. When you encounter a police officer on the street, you need to check your ID card

CET (Machine Scanning Inspection): This type of inspection, also known as Non Invasive Inspection (NII), generally requires containers to be scanned by the port's X-ray machine upon arrival at the port. Customs personnel only need to view the images, and if everything goes smoothly, they will release the containers according to the program;

This kind of inspection is like taking the subway in China, where you usually ask to put your backpack in the machine for scanning before entering the station.

The above two types of inspections are some of the conventional inspection methods in the United States, which occur almost every moment and do not affect the normal transportation time. However, the two types of inspections introduced next should be relatively strict.

Tail Gate: After the container is inspected by the X-ray machine at the dock, if customs personnel still have questions, they will open the seal of the container and push the door open to look inside. However, this inspection usually does not completely open the boxes inside the container, only a simple inspection will be carried out. If everything is normal, it will be released. If problems are encountered, it will be upgraded to the last inspection method.

MET (Manual Inspection): This type of inspection is the strictest inspection method in the United States maritime transportation. The entire container will be transported by customs to the designated inspection location, and SCE will conduct centralized unpacking inspection. SCE is a private company authorized by customs, which will open all the cargo boxes inside the container and conduct one-on-one inspections. When suspicious items are encountered, it will even notify customs personnel to conduct sample checks on the goods.

Of course, each inspection method requires a certain amount of time, such as VACIS EXAM (basic inspection). As long as there are no issues with the materials you submit, the process will be completed within 24 hours. CET (machine scanning inspection) generally takes less than 48 hours. If container inspection, also known as Tail Gate (open container inspection), is required, this time will also be extended to 3-5 days of working time. If unfortunately, it is upgraded to, The last type of MET inspection (manual inspection) is relatively long. Normally, it takes 5-10 working days without any problems, and even on weekends, the time will be extended. If problems are found with the goods, the time spent is also uncertain. We encountered a customer who was sent to the US Customs for safety testing due to issues with the matching adhesive, which took more than 2 months.

The above four inspection methods are only applicable to the CBP inspection of the United States Customs. There will also be inspections by some functional departments in the United States, such as the FDA department, CPSC department, DOT department, etc. They have the right to conduct additional inspections or detention after the CBP release. Generally, there is no written inspection notice for inspections in the United States. Foreign customs clearance is declared to the US Customs through the system, and the customs will return the status of the goods through the system, And we can only focus on the inspection status from the system. If there are any issues, Guanghe Logistics will also assist customers in contacting US customs and relevant departments to submit materials for appeal.

In addition to paying attention to the inspection methods, the inspection time is also very particular. US customs generally focus on conducting surprise inspections at a certain time period, with a focus on selecting products that are prone to infringement for inspection. Based on Guanghe Logistics' previous experience in container handling, it is March, April, November, and December each year. In these months, US customs will increase their enforcement efforts in cargo inspection, Of course, this time is only for reference.

It should be noted that if there is a bad record in customs clearance in the United States in the past, the inspection rate will also greatly increase. When delivering, it is necessary to provide additional explanations and develop corresponding plans based on the situation to reduce inspection risks. Of course, it is impossible to completely avoid it. Therefore, it is recommended that major cross-border sellers, legal and compliant customs clearance is the real long-term solution.