Hello and welcome to another episode of how we are going to help you become a pro importer! Okay so this is not a show, but don’t you think we could actually have a show of our own?
Here is the latest scoop: US imports have exceeded the exports by 0.9% – landing onto a whopping $290.7 Billion, as per the recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. As of today, we are going to talk about something that is key to smooth shipping: describing your merchandise and providing clear and accurate information about it, wherever required.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection wants to know everything about what you are importing; rightfully so, if you ask us. So logically, the clearer the information you provide, the more likely it is for you to avoid all possible inconveniences.
What is a Merchandise Description?
Well, it is exactly what the name suggests: a detailed description of the goods you are importing. Like most requirements, a merchandise description is also for the customs authorities. It gives them the relevant information to check if the goods that are being imported are allowed to enter the country, whether they fulfill all legal requirements, and allow them to access taxes and duties.
What is Included in it?
It is not that difficult to write an accurate merchandise description. Some basic questions that you can ask yourself are:
- What is the good?
- What is it made of?
- What is it used for?
These questions act as a good starting point to writing a merchandise description, upon which you can further build your description. The description should be specific and not vague, so make sure you really cover all the elements of the goods – no detail is too small. If the package contains branded items, you also need to include the brand and model number in the description. We will repeat it: no detail is too small.
If you need some more help in understanding, here is an example of a bad description and a good one.
Men’s cotton button-down shirt. Includes buttons down the front, a pocket, and full sleeves. Weight: 3oz (85 grams).
Here are some of the aspects that are included in a merchandise description:
- Country of origin
- Merchandise composition
- Intended use
- Product value
- Total quantity
- Total weight
- Intellectual Property Rights
The Consequences of a Vague Merchandise Description
Well, if you make the mistake of writing your merchandise description poorly, there can be so much that can go wrong. The shipment can be held or delayed by customs, or worse. The CBP wants complete information on the goods you are shipping, and if we put it honestly, not giving them cannot end well for your new initiative. Not only will it create inconveniences for your current imports, but it can also have negative implications for the rest of your importing experience.
So, there you have it. Another crucial insight on simplifying the import process. We hope this was helpful for you. So go out there and write your heart out when creating the merchandise description. Need help with the technical bits? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will help you get there!
Stay tuned for our next post!