A customs office refers to the agency that monitors the movement of goods across international borders. The U.S. Customs Service regulates a number of things, including trade. They inspect goods coming over land borders as well as coming into ports and airports. They can inspect anything that you’re importing.
Why Customs Services Inspect Cargo
Governments around the world levy tariffs and duties on incoming goods. This helps domestic businesses compete with importing. For instance, if cheaper cars are being made elsewhere, a country might assist its own car manufacturing companies by imposing tariffs on imported cars. This would bring the cost of imported cars closer to domestic-made ones, thus making the domestic car industry more competitive.
This is just a simplified example. Countries discover all the time that when a tariff effects one industry positively, it may impact another one negatively. This means international trade and the health of a country’s economy is a constant balancing act that requires forecasts, compromise, and good relationships with other countries.
Helping with More Information
This influences what goods customs agencies focus on inspecting. Customs agents can’t inspect every single package coming into the country, so they focus on spot checking. They use a range of factors to identify imported cargo that is more likely to violate a law, and they focus on these categories of cargo. Not all cargo they inspect violates a law, but narrowing down potential violations helps them find cargo that does.
For this reason, it’s paramount that you are truthful and detailed on customs forms. If you label something as “a guitar” in the description of what you’re shipping, they are more likely to inspect the package. If you label the specific details, including manufacturer and model, they have more knowledge and won’t necessarily feel as much need to dive into your shipment. In this way, giving a full description like “Blue Epiphone Hummingbird semi-hollow Acoustic Guitar” helps them feel more educated and safer about your shipment than simply, “a guitar.” It’s a good idea to even add the serial number to the description.
It’s all about helping customs know more information about your imported cargo so that they can feel safer passing it through.