What is the best “first thing” I can do to start the process?
Make sure that all documents relating to your hunt indicate your Full Legal Name and Address.

New U.S. Fish and Wildlife CITES regulations, became effective 09-24-07.

Regulation (50CFR Part 23.23 C) reads:

10. Name and address

The complete name and address, including country, of the exporter and importer must be used on all documents.

If you hold a U.S. FWS Import permit for Leopard or Bontebok the Export Permit from overseas must match the name on your import permit.

We believe Fish and Wildlife will consider your first given name, middle initial, and last name to meet their requirement.

We have been preaching this for years in seminars but it finally took FWS to come to this conclusion when they started seeing too many “nicknames” on documents and confusion on paperwork for multi-generational family members with the same name and no Sr., Jr., II, III, etc. indicated.

What must I do to ensure my trophies get back to me?
Your first line of defense is to apply hunt tags to the individual trophy parts in the field. This means every separate skin and horn has its own luggage-type tag. We recommend you use your business card on one side, and on the other, indicate which Coppersmith office you want your trophies shipped back to. You can usually get 8 luggage tags laminated at your local office supply store for about $7.50. Purchase the 8-inch day-glow colors variety pack of plastic electrical ties from your local hardware store. Assign one color to each hunter in your group – this way when they walk past the skinning area they can see at what stage their skins are in the process. We have developed a new kind of hunt tag for our clients. It will even survive the tanning process. If you would like some, please contact any Coppersmith location.

What is a Customs Broker and do I need one?
A Customs Broker is a person licensed by the Treasury Department, who has passed an extraordinarily difficult examination, as well as having been vetted by the FBI to represent a company or individual in their transactions with Customs and Border Protection as well as the other Government Agencies required for the product being imported.

Simply put, Hunters may clear their own trophies. They would have to make their own arrangements to go to the various Government Agencies in the proper order and file the applicable paperwork each agency requires. If you prefer to act on your own behalf please be sure to advise the parties overseas of your current contact numbers as the airlines only give you a limited number of hours to clear your shipment before the storage clock starts running. Anyone acting on behalf of another MUST be given a signed Power of Attorney by the other party to act on his or her behalf.

We like to use the analogy that we act in the same capacity as the CPA you use to file your taxes with the Internal Revenue Service. We have taken the trouble to learn all the necessary regulations as well as keep current on the nearly weekly changes in the various government agency regulations. We know what information is needed on each form and how to smooth the bumpy road through Other Government Agencies to achieve a successful result.

What happens to my trophies when I return home from my hunt?

We will need to know if you are bringing back any of the following animals, because they will require special document handling:

• Primates – Monkeys or Baboons • Swine – Bush Pig or Wart Hogs • Rodentia Family – Porcupine, Squirrels, Spring Hare, Rats, Hedgehogs or Shrews • Viverridae Family – Civets, Genets and Mongoose • A USDA Approved Taxidermist or Tannery must reprocess any porcupine, swine or non-human primates arriving in a dip and pack state into the U.S.

Decide before your hunt which approved establishment you will be using. Your professional hunter or outfitter will either offer to dip and pack your catch himself or take you to visit with his buddy, a local taxidermist. Try to talk your PH into visiting at least two, or better yet, three such firms before deciding if you want your trophies mounted overseas. After making a decision as to whom you want to use – obtain several of that taxidermist’s cards and get an e-mail address for them.

What do I do next?
Upon your return, call your local Coppersmith office or contact us toll-free at 888-827-4388 and let us know who has your trophies and what time table you were promised for delivery. Let your representative know if your trophies are mounted or dipped & packed. Also forward a list of animals taken so that we may review and advise any special documentation possibly needed.

During this conversation with Coppersmith, you will be asked for your full given name. We will then check our computer database to see if we have your current information. If you are not on file with us, you will be asked to complete a Hunter Information Sheet, Power of Attorney, Credit Card Authorization and to provide the necessary ID verification documentation for Homeland Security requirements.

A custom Power of Attorney, what is that and what am I signing?
This form allows us to act on your behalf with not only Customs and Border Protection, but also any other Government Agency required to clear your trophies. Pursuant to Customs Regulations a Customs Power of Attorney must be obtained for each and every party we represent.  Persons under the age of 21 may have shipments cleared in their parent or guardian’s name.

What do you need from me to complete a Customs Power of Attorney?
We need your full given name, as provided to the Social Security Administration. Also both your mailing and physical home addresses. If you live in a rural area this must be your United States Postal Service approved fire department address.

We will need your Social Security number. CBP Regulation 19CFR 24.5 (b) (ii) reads if no Internal Revenue Service Employer Identification Number has been assigned, the Social Security number is required to identify the Importer of Record. We are not permitted to share your personal information with anyone other than the Government Agencies involved in your specific transaction.

Ok, I’ve signed the Customs POA – now what?
With the POA you will have received a Hunter’s Information Sheet. It will provide you with the complete name and address of the person handling this portion of the transaction for you. We are now required by CBP to validate the information that you have given to us. In order to do that we will require a copy of either your Social Security Card or a copy of correspondence from the IRS/SSA dated within the past  year and a copy of a picture ID such as Driver’s License or Passport. If you have an original U.S. Cites Import Form for one of the animals being imported send the original to Coppersmith via traceable overnight package service.

Will I have to fill out this form again?
No. Once you have done this and are entered in our computer’s database your POA will remain in effect until you revoke it. As a note, if you already have a POA on file with another Customs Broker, you might want to call or fax them to advise that you are revoking the POA you have on file with them.

Ok, back to my trophies, what now?
There may be a time lag from the time the skinner completes their work and the PH/outfitter or staff delivers your animals to the taxidermist doing your mounting or dip and pack work. Outfitters often store the dried skins and take only a group of them in at one time to the local taxidermist for processing. Now you know why the hunt tags are so important. Ask your PH or outfitter how they will be handling your skins. The overseas taxidermist will require a deposit before work commences. The taxidermist will then complete your dip/pack or mounting of the animals. The time frame for this varies wildly – get an estimate before your decision is made. They will then fax, call or e-mail you stating they require the remaining balance of x amount of dollars before they will release the animals for shipment. As soon as they receive payment, the taxidermist will arrange for pickup or delivery of your trophies to the transport agent. Sometimes the taxidermist, but more often the transport agent, will then proceed to obtain all of the export permits required by that country in order to ship the trophies.

How do I make sure that the taxidermist uses Coppersmith’s services?
You advise them when you place your taxidermy order that Coppersmith is your Customs Broker. If they try to tell you that your trophies can only be imported over one U.S. Port and you must use another broker – remind them that you know otherwise and assert your ownership rights. After all you are the one paying all the charges. Another area of importance is the preparation of the actual invoice by the Taxidermist to reflect what was done to your trophies. Ask to see a sample of their export invoice.


If the animals are fully mounted, or skins have been tanned and the skull and horns have been bleached and mounted on a plaque – they are considered a finished trophy and the invoice and shipping documents must state this. No other treatment will be required upon arrival in the U.S.

If the animal parts have only been chemically treated and packed then they are called dip and pack and these may require reprocessing of some sort in the U.S. before they can be transferred to you or your U.S. taxidermist. The invoice and shipping documents must then indicate that the animals are unfinished.

All taxidermy invoices must reflect the cost (with type of currency indicated) assessed for the processing of each individual animal as well as the actual name of the genus and species of the animal being shipped. This is why we ask for you to obtain the taxidermist business cards.

Once you notify us that your trophies are at a specific location we will either contact that taxidermist or the shipping agent. We will be happy to follow-up to get an update on the status of your shipment as part of our Customer Service Commitment. That is all part of our PROFESSIONAL SERVICE PROVIDED WITH PERSONAL CARE.

Ok the taxidermist has received all the export permits, I’ve paid him, now what?
If your instructions have been followed, the agent will forward either to us, or to you directly, a quotation for the shipping of your trophies. This quote should include insurance. The agent will suggest a coverage amount based on SCI published values. It can be increased or decreased at your request. The shipping agent will likely require that you prepay your freight with a credit card or bank wire transfer. Before doing so determine from them to whom and in what port in the U.S. your shipment will be sent. Advise them that you will not be making any payments to them unless the shipment is consigned directly to the Coppersmith office nearest to your home, taxidermist or tannery. If need be we will be happy to intervene on your behalf. If you choose to prepay the shipment, there should be a credit card authorization form following the quote which you would fax directly back to the overseas agent for processing. If you prefer just one invoice from Coppersmith for all charges ask the agent to send the shipment on freight collect basis. Air shipments can generally be made on a collect basis; however ocean freight shipments must nearly always be made on a prepaid basis because of extended transit times.

Demand that copies of all shipping docs, especially CITES Permits be emailed to you & the Coppersmith Office Location responsible for clearing your shipment prior to export.

As owner and Importer of Record, you are solely liable for the accuracy of your documentation. CBP, USFWS and all other Government agencies hold you responsible for all documentation presented for clearance of your trophies, so it is imperative that you be proactive and assure correctness of all documentation.  We will also review documentation for accuracy so all errors can be corrected before export to avoid seizures, fines or penalties.

I’ve got my quote for airfreight – what’s the deal – my shipment weighs one thing, but I am being charged for a higher weight?
Welcome to the wonderful world of dimensional volume. Every air carrier charges you freight based on the weight or space displaced or utilized on their equipment. If your shipment displaces more space than it actually weighs – you will be charged the dimensional volume weight.

There is a formula to compute this. Remember the rest of the world uses the metric system. Your quote will give you dimensions in centimeters. To convert centimeters to inches you multiply by .3937. Round that number up and multiple the inches of the Length by the Width by the Height and divide the total by 166. That will give you the chargeable pounds. To convert the pounds to kilos divide by 2.20463.

I keep seeing ads for Ocean Freight shipments offering a 60% savings – what’s the deal?
Ocean freight can generally only be used for shipments of finished Trophies. Obviously the transit time is longer – somewhere between 45 and 60 days. While the crates are containerized and stowed below deck, they may still be affected by humidity. Make sure that none of your mounted trophies are ever shipped wrapped tightly in plastic, (air or ocean). This can cause heat and humidity to accumulate inside the plastic and the end result could be hair slippage. Ask the packer to be especially vigilant in the manner the trophies are blocked and braced into the container. The constant motion of the container could cause one of the trophies to move into another trophy causing damage that will not be easily repairable.

The Department of Homeland Security establishes threat levels based on various commodities. Unfortunately, in their opinion, curios and hunting trophies are among the highest security threats. As a result those containers are being selected for more intensive exams. CBP will begin with a VACIS exam (Gamma Ray). If something appears suspect during the exam CBP will have the container moved to a Bonded Customs Exam Station and order it to be stripped of its contents. The crates may then be opened. After the physical exam, the crates must be reloaded back into a container. You should also expect the US Department of Agriculture to place a hold for exam as well. Ocean Freight shipments will always have additional charges, which we will be unaware of in advance. These could include Document Transfer, Terminal Handling, Port Security, Exam Charges, Documentation, and Stripping Charges. Well guess who gets to pay for all of these charges – you do! We always provide copies of the backup charges we are required to pay out on your behalf with our invoice. Therefore very often that 60% savings may evaporate into thin air.

Okay I am over the shock of the freight charge, is it ok to prepay the freight or can it come in on a freight collect basis?
Some all agents will ship to you on an airfreight collect basis. Please keep in mind that these agents must be paid on a timely basis. Therefore, effective March 1, 2005, if you instruct us to have a shipment sent on a freight collect basis, we will need that instruction from you in writing. At that time we will also ask you to complete a Credit Card Authorization Form. When the shipment comes in and we get it cleared we will fax or scan you our invoice to include those freight charges. Should we not receive payment from you within 10 days of our invoice, we will then process your credit card for the invoiced charges due. We must transfer funds to our agents overseas every month and we have guaranteed they will be paid on a timely basis. Ocean Freight shipments require pre-payment, either by wire transfer or via your credit card due to the delay in transit time for these types of shipments. Also the overseas agent cannot obtain your shipping documents to send to us for clearance if the freight is not paid. All ocean freight and airfreight shipments are shipped in what is normally called a consolidation.

Ok, what’s a consolidation?
When an agent tenders many different shippers freight as one shipment to the airline they do so on what is called a Master Bill of Lading. Each individual’s shipment is moved on what is called a House Bill of Lading. The air carrier is supposed to move these consolidations as booked and this is done in a perfect world. However, carriers determine the load capabilities for each flight on the tarmac. Affecting the capacity is passenger load; live animals, temperature, fuel constraints; perishables and mail, all of which take precedence over freight. Therefore MAWB’s are often broken down from the originally tendered number of packages. The carrier will move the remaining freight on various flights to destination until all of it is received at the port of destination.

Every hunter must now be packed in his or her own carton/box/crate for CBP/AMS reporting purposes. There needs to be one single Importer of Record due to ACS system limitations, which only allow for the submission of a single ultimate consignee per each piece count.  Some ports will allow multiple hunters packed in one crate, but most will NOT.  We do NOT recommend comingling shipments.  If there is a problem with one of the hunters, all are detained.

When do I find out what is going on?
Our Coppersmith offices will receive a pre-advice or pre-alert from the overseas agent when your freight has been dispatched to the origin airport. We then begin the tracing process with the carrier using the Master Air Way Bill number. If you receive a message with the MAWB number please contact your Coppersmith office at once. All MAWB’s have a 3-digit prefix (this identifies the air carrier) and an 8-digit suffix, for a total of 11 digits.

It must be pointed out, however, that shippers from smaller countries like Tanzania or Mozambique will tender your shipments directly to the air carrier without advance notice to you or us and you will be expected to pay whatever the cost indicated on the MAWB in order to retrieve your freight.


The freight finally gets to the United States now what?
The first airport your cargo arrives at in the United States is called the Port of Unlading. At this port the U.S. Department of Agriculture will review the manifest of the cargo on board the carrier and indicate either that they have inspected your freight and it is okay to move in-bond to the Port of Entry or they will call us, since we are supposed to be listed on the MAWB as the notify party and ask us who the Approved U.S.D.A. taxidermist is for that shipment. (This only happens on dip and packed skins – not mounted trophies).  All trophy shipments, whether mounted or not are placed on hold for review before movement is authorized to the actual port of entry.

If we do not know whom you want used or the information is not in our computer and we cannot reach you we will tell the inspector at the airline to hold the freight. Storage charges will begin to accure after 48-72 hours from arrival, depending on the carrier’s free time policy.

Ok, USDA does their thing and my trophies are put on a connecting flight to the city where the Coppersmith office is – when do I get my trophies?
The normal transit time for in-bond movement from the first port of arrival to the Port of Entry is 2-7 days, depending on whether your trophies are transported by connecting flight or via bonded truck.  Some airlines do not have flights into certain areas, so in these cases, the freight is combined with other cargo moving to the same destination and are transported by truck.

What happens if the original documents are lost?
The carrier will notify Coppersmith that freight has arrived and there are no documents. USDA inspectors cannot allow the shipment to leave the first port (of unlading). When we are notified we will immediately request a system wide search of the carrier. We immediately back to the overseas agent and request fax copies be sent and certified copies of any Cites documents be applied for and sent via courier to the Coppersmith office clearing the freight. If the documents are lost after release at the first port of unlading, the shipment will accrue storage charges at the port of entry until the replacement documents are received. At that point we suggest that you request us to move the shipment to our Bonded Container Freight Station (if applicable) or to the local Customs Bonded Examination Station. We must notify USFWS that Doc’s are missing.  Each inspector will determine if certified copies or an order for re-export will be issued if originals are not located.

The freight is here, the documents are here – now how long does it take?
We immediately begin the classification and data entry process when we get the original documents from the carrier. CBP’s Automated Manifest System requires there must be at least one piece/box/crate for each hunter entry. Separate entries must be made for each individual hunter with Fish and Wildlife. Customs and Border Protection now requires that the Fish and Wildlife Service clear trophies prior to submission of documents to CBP. The Fish and Wildlife Service requires clearance by CDC and USPHS on animals requiring special handling prior to filing of the original documents, which accompany a 3-177 form (or e-Decs) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Fish and Wildlife will determine if a physical inspection is necessary or if they can release the cargo based on the documents submitted. This can take from 3 – 10 working days in some ports. When the actual FWS release is received we can then physically file the entry with Customs and Border Protection.

Customs will usually clear the shipment within 24 hours. Once we have Customs and all the other Government Agency releases, we then prepare to pick up the trophies from the carrier where they have been held in-bond. Because this process often exceeds the allotted free time (72 hours usually) from the carrier we must find out how much storage is owed and prepare a check for that plus pay the Cargo Import Service Charge charged by the carrier.

Our local cartman will retrieve the trophies and bring them to either our warehouse or the cartman’s warehouse. Upon receipt we will contact you to reaffirm where you want them to be delivered. Then we will obtain a quote for transport to your desired destination on a prepaid basis, prepare our invoice and fax or scan it to you for payment.

What charges will I be expected to pay to Coppersmith?
There are many services we perform on your behalf. They are as listed below with the rates that were in effect beginning August 15, 2017:

Customs Entry Service Fee $350.00
Classification of merchandise, preparation and transmission of entry information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for cargo release and summary presentation.

Fish & Wildlife Entry Service Fee
FWS entry preparation and filing e-Decs entry (electronic 3-177) to US Fish & Wildlife for release processing.

Cargo Import Service Charge
Fee payable to the airline for their shipment processing / terminal charges.

Messenger Fee
Service fees for our messenger to hand deliver all documentation to and from the various government agencies and airline terminals.

Security Fee
Warehouse Handling Fee
Unloading, handling, inspection of freight, inland bill of lading preparation, loading of freight for customer pickup or delivery by carrier.

Airport Transfer $ 85.00
Minimum charge of $85.00 or $.09 cents per pound of chargeable weight plus Fuel Surcharge. This covers the transfer of shipments by truck to our warehouse to avoid additional storage charges.  Fuel Surcharge is not assessed on a minimum charge. Minimum of $100 in the Port of New York.

Coppersmith Warehouse Handling Fee $65.00
Unloading, handling, inspection of freight, inland bill of lading preparation,
loading of freight for customer pickup or delivery by carrier. Additional Storage charges
of $25.00 per week may be applied after given free time, as per the Coppersmith Tariff.

Additional Hunters $150.00 (NOT available in ports of DFW, IAH & LAX)
Separate FWS e?Dec’s are required for all hunters. Shipments containing more
than 1 hunter packed in one consignment will be assessed $150.00 each for filing
each individual declaration. Not available in the following ports – HOU, LAX, DAL

USDA & FWS  Exam $50.00
If applicable.  If USDA or FWS requires an exam/inspection and our personnel must travel to the airline to open the shipment, this fee will apply.

CDC Permit  $25.00
If applicable.  US Department of Public Health release requires an additional Fee of $25.00.

Premium Inspection Fee: $93.00 for any import or export shipment containing CITES species.
Base Inspection Fee : $186.00 for any shipment cleared in Taxidermist’s name or commercial. These charges are paid on your behalf to US FWS.

Collect air or ocean freight charges are not included.
Any storage, additional exam charges or delivery costs are for your account.

Delivery to your choice of destination for your account.

What forms of payment does Coppersmith accept?
We accept personal checks with identification, cashier checks, money orders, credit cards and Chax. All credit cards have a service charge assessed by the Credit Card processor. The current rate is 3.5%. Customs and Border Protection has established regulations relevant to fiduciary reporting as one of our legal requirements. Therefore this charge will appear as a separate line item on our invoice to you.

What is Chax?
CHAX is an acronym for Checks by Fax. It is a software program that allows us to replicate a negotiable check based on a fax copy of the original and a simple authorization form. You fax us a copy of the signed check along with our authorization form and we produce a check to be delivered to our bank on that day. This method significantly reduces wait time by eliminating the time it takes to deliver the check by mail or the cost of overnight courier. Authorization forms are available upon request.  If you have additional questions please do not hesitate to contact us at our toll free number 888-827-4388.