United States Custom and Border Protection (CBP) is a federal law enforcement agency that is part of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is the largest agency comprising the DHS, and it is the US’s main border control agency.
It helps regulate and facilitate international trade into and out of the country. CBP is in charge of collecting import duties and enforcing American regulations that include trade, customs, and immigration. The agency is tasked with preventing individuals from entering the country illegally, as well as preventing illegal imports into and export out of the United States.
President George Washington initially formed the United States Customs Service in 1789 in order to collect import duties. The Immigration and Naturalization Service was formed in 1933 to control and monitor immigration into the United States.
In 2003, President George W. Bush combined the United States Customs Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to form United States Customs and Border Patrol. The consolidation of the organizations allowed the newly formed CBP to create seamless security procedures in regard to maintaining the integrity and security of American borders and ports of entry.
CBP is authorized to search all inbound and outbound shipments. This allows them to seize any contraband merchandise entering or exiting the country. This also enables them to prevent the illegal entry of individuals into the country.
The agency comprises of various personnel. These include:
CBP customs agents play a major role in regulating the import and export of goods in the United States. They have the authority to enforce any and all US trade laws on merchandise that arrives in the country. This authority exists as the items arrive at US ports of entry and also once items enter the US marketplace.
In terms of international trade regarding the USA, CBP policies are designed with three aims in mind. These are:
Customs border agents are responsible for entry procedures for imported merchandise. They also have authority over admissibility requirements, classification, valuation, and collection of duties and other taxes and fees relating to the imported merchandise.
If you plan on importing items into the country, customs border agents are tasked with ensuring that the items are safe and legal. The import process for any cargo includes:
It should be noted that while most cargo items will not require an import license, some will. CBP maintains guidelines describing which items will require a license or a permit, and agents will check to ensure that all licensing is in order before allowing goods to enter the country.
If you are exporting items, keep in mind that all export items are subject to export control laws. Furthermore, some items may require an export license. In order to check if the item you are exporting requires a license, you will have to check the guidelines of the federal agency that has jurisdiction and regulatory powers over the item for export.
CPB offers tips for new importers and exporters so they can ascertain whether they are following all laws and regulations. These tips will help guide you through import and export laws to ensure that you follow all legal procedures.
"Customs duties play an important role in your international shipment. How they're determined and calculated varies from country to country"
Klaus Lydsal, vice president of operations at iContainers