I love that my work phone only rings a few times a week, and the best part is that it is never an unhappy customer. 99% of the time (the other 1% it is probably my mother) when the phone rings it is FedEx Trade Networks attempting to collect missing documents needed to clear a shipment from our Chinese manufacturers. As a company, we provide logistic requirements to our multiple manufacturers for all of the products they assemble. One of the most important aspects of the logistic requirements are the necessary documents to clear customs without encountering any delays.
A few examples of these required documents are :
- Letters of credit
- Bill of lading
- Dock receipts
- Import licenses
- Certificates of origin
- Inspection certificates
- Certificates of insurance coverage
- Packing lists
- Commercial invoices
- Toxic Substance Control Act forms
- Fish and Wildlife permit
As discussed a few days ago, lack of knowledge and skills can be a hidden cost. In regards to customs, I have found that inexperienced Chinese manufacturers often forget to check and confirm, or simply don’t realize the importance of, the logistic requirements and leave out necessary documents leading to clearance delays. Clearance delays can last for weeks if the necessary documents aren’t included in the shipment or submitted immediately by me, which in the worst case scenarios can lead to lost sales because a product isn’t available to sell as soon as originally anticipated.
I am continuously amazed at the small details our Chinese manufacturers accidentally forget to include on the required documents, inevitably leading to customs clearance delays on the American side. Most often it happens with Commercial Invoices, where customs regulations require a cost break down of any product included on the invoice. For watches, the product I deal with on a daily basis, a cost break down is simply the total cost of the watch split up as follows: 55% movement, 25% case, 15% strap, and 5% battery. Being someone who is extremely detail oriented, I am shocked when this happens over and over again and usually from the same manufacturer. Most often this forgetfulness is due to a lack of familiarity or knowledge of the required documents for international shipments. After experiencing this situation numerous times, I am very specific and clear when communicating the requirements to our manufacturers. I have found that using this strategy and taking these extra necessary precautions is the best way to avoid any sort of clearance delay.