Businesses that ship internationally run the risk of encountering regulatory restrictions and customs issues. Most businesses that fail to comply with the rules of shipping over borders do so because of ignorance, rather than a willful attempt to circumvent the rules. Sadly, a lack of knowledge regarding the rules does not excuse non-compliance, and non-compliance can result in several unwanted ramifications.
Ramifications of non-compliance for international shipping include:
- Border control issues
- Customs issues
- FDA issues
- Lost merchandise
- Delayed shipments
The penalty exacted for non-compliance depends upon the particular regulatory breach. Fines can get quite hefty, reaching upwards of $5,000 per occurrence.
Many companies believe they can avoid non-compliance by researching about all the regulatory restrictions of international shipping. Unfortunately, even the most meticulous investigation often leaves two major gaps in knowledge.
Firstly, regulations on international shipping can be quite complex, so developing a comprehensive understanding requires more than just a Google search or shipping experience from years past. Secondly, non-compliance can come about as a result of not only what your company does, but also what any party involved with a shipment does. This means non-compliance by a vendor, carrier or drayage company can be attributed to your company, even if you followed regulations to a T, and instructed your partners on the proper processes.
There are, however, additional steps beyond knowing the rules that will ensure regulations are always met. These steps are:
- Developing a tracking and notification process – Tracking the activity of all parties involved with an international shipment allows you to see what steps, if any, have been overlooked. If any issues arise, alerts can be sent to the offending party with a request to remedy the problem. If nothing can be done about an issue, a customs agent can be informed of the problem, and a chance to rectify the issue may be won.
- Developing a relationship with a single customs broker – Establishing a relationship with a good customs broker not only means having a direct line to the source whenever any questions arise, but also improves their knowledge of the imported items. This reduces occasions of non-compliance, and makes it easier to correct mistakes that do occur.
The ramifications of non-compliance range from a slight delay to a significant fine. The best way to avoid penalty, big or small, is to know the rules, oversee the shipment, and keep the lines of communication open with everyone involved in the process.