Commonly, the first questions we are asked are “What is a Customs Broker?”, “What exactly do you do?”, “Why should I use a Customs Broker to clear my trophies?” and “How much is this going to cost?” These are valid questions and we’re glad that you want to know!
It is often overlooked that everything from everyday personal items you purchased from a retail store to your latest hunting trophy, a Customs Broker likely handled the entry with Customs and Border Protection and any other federal agency that may be involved. We hope that this information will explain our role and how a broker’s service will benefit you. Customs Brokers are experts in the complex laws involved in importing into the United States and we are here to guide you through the safari of federal regulations.
A Customs Broker is licensed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, having passed an extremely difficult examination as well as extensive investigative background checks by Customs and the FBI. Due to the federal regulations mandated, Customs Brokers must follow specific guidelines and processes for all import transactions. We must adhere to our responsibilities and obligations to our clients as well as the agencies that regulate our industry.
Just as one would use a CPA for tax preparation, Customs Brokers act on your behalf in a similar capacity. We are regulated and must keep up-to-date on constant changes in various government agencies regulations. With these frequent changes, heightened security and regulatory restrictions, there are many aspects of the clearance process that are extremely time consuming. Although many of these steps are “behind the scenes”, they are mandatory for your trophies to be released.
Our services include communications with your taxidermist and shipping agent to assist with coordination and tracking. We ask that documentation always be sent to us prior to export so that we can review closely for accuracy. Most refused shipments or seizures are due to incorrect paperwork. In addition to documentation, the wood packing material must also comply with international regulations and be properly marked with the required stamps for release by the Department of Agriculture.
After arrival of the trophies into the U.S. and receipt of original documents, we can then begin preparing to file appropriate entries with all government agencies. Depending on port practice, the most common order of agency processing is U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Fish & Wildlife and finally U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Some species require clearance by the Centers for Disease Control and/or U.S. Public Health.
Certain ports require our staff to schedule appointments whereby one of our trophy specialists must meet agency officers for their inspections. Unfortunately, since each agency requires release in the sequence mandated by their port policy, these inspections are done separately in the respective order of clearance.
All data pertaining to your shipment must be transmitted electronically to Customs and Border Protection and U.S. Fish & Wildlife to generate the Customs entry and U.S. Fish & Wildlife declaration (e-Dec). Data transmitted to Customs includes export, arrival, carrier, manufacturer, origin, quantities, harmonized tariff classification and value information. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife data requires the same; however, all species must be separately entered by scientific name. The documents must be multi-copied for submission and specifically assembled for presentation as per entry requirements for each agency. Fees due to Customs and U.S. Fish & Wildlife are also remitted on behalf of our clients.
Any curios or other items in addition to trophies must be classified with appropriate harmonized tariff numbers and declared to Customs. If the items are dutiable, calculation of estimated duty, tax and fees are paid to Customs. Should any problems with contents or documentation arise during the entry process, we work with the agency to resolve any issues if possible.
Upon receipt of all releases, we will arrange transport of your trophies to the desired destination or USDA approved establishment. The process may seem very simple, however, it is very time consuming and at times difficult. Our primary goal is to expedite clearances as quickly as possible and make it trouble free for our clients.
It is important to note that although we like to be involved in the planning of your trophy shipment as early as possible after your hunt as ended, we do not participate in the packing of the shipment, choice of foreign taxidermist or shipping agent. We also do not verify contents of shipments. We are not authorized to open packing crates, therefore, should there be missing items, we will assist communicating with the overseas entities involved in packing and shipping, however, we are do not assume any liability.
Coppersmith Inc. has standard service fees applicable to all of our office locations nationwide. These fees are outlined on this site and may be printed for your review. The Customs and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Entry fees are assessed for our preparation services for cargo processing and all other fees cover charges paid to the airlines, truckers, messengers and security expenses.
Should you have any questions at all regarding shipping, clearance processes or Coppersmith’s service fees, please feel free to call any of our offices nationwide and one of our Trophy Specialists will be more than happy to assist in any way possible.