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What is VACIS Exam?

Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System VACIS exam is one of the holds by US customs for importing goods. The system was introduced by U.S. Customs Service, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Department of Defense to inspect the cargo through law energy radio graphic images.

This system was introduced after 09/11 terrorist attacks to protect from illegal drugs, guns or currency. It is an x-ray system using gamma rays imaging to verify the contents inside the package or container without breaking the package seal. This x-ray examination is done either at pier (docks) or at port premises. VACIS equipment is used as mobile service also to use on road ,rail or any inland locations. Normally, VACIS exam is decided by Customs Border Protection (CBP) before arrival of cargo at port of discharge. Authorities at Terminal make arrangements for CBP to inspect the cargo after 48 hours of its arrival. VACIS can be decided on random, suspected or actual law violators. If contraband is found detected, the cargo or the container will be moved to Container Examination Station (CES) for thorough VACIS exam. Initially, the cargo will be scanned whole, and examination is carried out with the images obtained. If not satisfied by CBP, each packages will be unloaded and scan thoroughly.

What is VACIS exam in US import customs clearance 1 If a consignment is selected for VACIS by CBP, charges of VACIS exam has to be paid by the importer. In some cases, although CBP released the import shipment , the private companies whom the CBP had authorized for handling arrangements for inspection, may not release the goods unless they receives their charges. Apart from VACIS exam, there may have additional storage charges or demurrage charges to shipping carriers due to delay in taking delivery.

Here the point is, why the importer needs to pay VACIS exam fee for the goods not detected contraband. My appeal to CBP is not to charge any amount if not detected any contraband . The charges of VACIS examination has to be absorbed by the US government in such cases. Am I right ? Discuss. Also read - Who can inspect import cargo in US? What is USDA hold under US import clearance of goods?

Paying Custom Duties and Taxes when Shipping Products from US

Goods shipped may incur Duty and VAT when shipped to international destinations. Customs Duty is a tariff or tax imposed on goods when transported across international borders. The purpose of Customs Duty is to protect each country's economy, residents, jobs, environment, etc., by controlling the flow of goods. VAT is (similar to Sales tax in US) a consumption tax assessed on the value added to goods and services. This national/local tax applies more or less to all goods and services that are bought and sold for use or consumption in the Community. Total amount of Duty and VAT varies based on the destination country, nature of the product (Harmonized Code), country of manufacture and value of the product. There is no way to predict this value ahead of time.

  • eCommerce retailers must bring clarity: Most eCommerce retailers clarifies in their terms and conditions that the person receiving a shipment is obliged to pay Duty and VAT. In some cases, the shipped can choose a private carrier (FedEx, UPS or DHL) and send a shipment to cover the cost of duties and VAT. In such situation, the shipper gets billed later once the Duty and VAT gets calculated and product delivered. The sender does not have any option to pay Duty and VAT when shipping smaller consumer related items via USPS. Duty and VAT, if applicable, must then be covered by the person receiving the shipment. Individuals buying products from US should be careful about these extra charges and must read the supplier’s website on the responsibilities for covering these charges.

  • Calculating duties/taxes: Customs officials use a shipment's declared value (the value the shipper declares on the goods being shipped), along with the description of the goods, to determine duties and taxes. It is important to ensure that the declared value claimed is accurate. Inaccurate declared value is one of the most prevalent reasons for duty and tax disputes. A shipment's declared value represents the selling price or fair market value of the contents of the shipment, even if not sold. The first step in determining duty and tax information is to identify the product classification number, i.e. Harmonized System or Schedule B number for your product. More importantly, your goods won’t ship without this number on key shipping documents. A Schedule B number is a 10-digit number used in the United States to classify physical goods for export to another country. The Schedule B is based on the international Harmonized System (HS) of 6-digit commodity classification codes. There is a Schedule B number for every physical product, from paperclips to airplanes. The Census Bureau sponsors a free online tool called the Schedule B Search Engine. Each country’s government that list tariff (duty) rates by each product’s harmonized System code. you may visit to get the latest publication and details. It is best to check with your shipper or fulfillment service provider to assist you with this research.

  • Can we ship any product?: Generally speaking, there is no restriction and most items are permitted to be shipped internationally. The items which can be shipped falls in category of Clothing, DVDs, electronic, magazine, books etc. However, certain items are prohibited such as biological materials, bacteria or virus samples, firearms or their parts, flammable products, hazardous waste material, lottery tickets or other gambling items, money or other forms of money or cash equivalents. We also cannot ship alcohol.

  • Products manufactured in US has advantage: Some countries have very high duties and taxes; some have relatively low duties and taxes. If your product is primarily made in the U.S. of U.S. originating components it may qualify for duty-free entry into countries with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement. US currently have free trade agreements with more than 20 countries including Canada and Mexico. Targeting “Free trade agreement” countries is a good market entry strategy because buyers pay less tariff for goods made in the U.S. compared with similar goods from countries without “Free trade agreement”. Country of manufacture, therefore, must be stated when preparing “bill of lading”. Products manufactured in China or India but shipped from US do not qualify any advantage of “Free trade agreement”.

Shippers See Some Port Calls Skipped, Cargo Rolled

Route changes come “in less than an organized fashion” says OWL chief

Bill Mongelluzzo, Associate Editor | Oct 25, 2011 1:24PM GMT The Journal of Commerce Online - News Story Container Lines | Container Shipping | Maritime | United States

Some trans-Pacific ocean carriers are skipping port calls and holding back vessel departures if bookings are weak, illustrating how feeble the peak shipping season has been and how aggressive carriers will get in the coming months to manage overcapacity.

Ocean World Lines CEO Dan Gardner said carriers have made route changes “in less than an organized fashion” as they grapple with overcapacity and declining freight rates in the eastbound Pacific.

Capacity shortages could worsen if more carriers discontinue vessel strings for several months this winter. Imports normally spike for a brief period in January or February as factories in China churn up production before closing for lunar New Year celebrations, which could last up to two weeks, Gardner told the Footwear Traffic Distribution and Customs Conference Monday.

Some carriers also canceled voyages in the first week of October to coincide with the shutdown of Chinese factories for the Asian country’s annual National Day celebration. Only 129 container vessels totaling 227,000 20-foot equivalent container units of capacity have been laid up worldwide so far, said Gardner. That amounts to 1.8 percent of total global capacity. By contrast, during the depth of the 2009 recession, 723 vessels were laid up just in Singapore alone, he said. “We can’t do anything about being rolled,” said Charlie Kantz, vice president of logistics and warehousing at Bakers Footwear Group.

Kantz said he was surprised some of his containers booked to leave Asian ports last week missed intended voyages because of vessel capacity shortage. If there really was a space problem in Asia in recent weeks, it was probably “artificial,” he said.

-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at Follow him on Twitter @billmongelluzzo.



Optical-Disc Industry is Sellers’ Market Now: CMC Chairman Wong

Taipei, June 10, 2011 (CENS)--Thanks to excessive demand, the profit margins for optical-disc makers have turned positive, while CD-R disc prices are expected to rise by 20% in the second half, according to CMC Magnetics Corp. chairman Robert Wong.

Ritek Corp., another major optical-disc maker in Taiwan, also pointed out that disc prices have been rising this year due to rising material prices, adding that disc prices are expected to further climb in the third quarter.

Wong said that many local optical-disc makers have been withdrawing from the business, while some Japanese disc makers also stopped production after the massive earthquake in March. CMC has raised all its disc prices by an average 30% in March.

The supply shortage of CD-R discs has pushed up prices by about 40% since early this year, the first since 2009, Wong said, while the price adjustment has been accepted by customers.

The chairman pointed out that the optical-disc sector has turned into a sellers’ market to benefit CMC`s future operation.

CMC is very optimistic toward sales in the second half, saying that flooding orders are filling production lines throughout the year-end, and may raise prices, while predicting fourth quarter operations to turn profitable.