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Frequently Asked Questions

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A Customs Broker is a person licensed by the Treasury Department, who has passed an extraordinarily difficult examination. They have 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 to be imported.  A Customs Broker has taken the time to learn all the necessary regulations concerning your product. They keep up on the changes in the various government agency regulations. 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 know what information is needed on each form and how to smooth the bumpy road through other government agencies to achieve a successful result. 

There have been many major changes to the clearing process.  With the use of the US Customs new system ACE, hunters may clear their own trophies in certain Ports of Entry. You must contact the various government agencies to confirm if they will allow you to clear your trophies on your own.  You will have to make your own arrangements with the various government agencies in the proper order to file the applicable paperwork that each agency requires, as well as make arrangements for the inspection of your shipment. Also be aware that the airlines only give you a limited number of hours to clear your shipment before storage will begin.

Coppersmith will need you to fill out our NEW HUNTERS PACKET. Select the port of entry that you will be using and fill out the corresponding packet. This packet contains a basic information page, a US Customs Power of Attorney, a 5106 Customs document and a full list of our prices. Always make sure when filling out any document that you use your legal name that is on your passport. Once completed, you will need to return this to us along with a copy of your passport. We are required by CBP to validate the information you have given to us

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 are not permitted to share your personal information with anyone other than the Government Agencies involved in your specific transaction.

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.. 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.

Your first line of defense is to contact Coppersmith to set up your account. You can request our Hunt Tags to be used for the individual trophy parts you will be importing. We have developed a new kind of hunt tag for our clients. Our Hunt Tags are made of Tyvek and designed to survive through the entire taxidermy process. 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 with a permanent marker. You should place 1 tag on each piece.  If you are hunting with a group we recommend that you purchase 8-inch day-glow colored electrical ties from your local hardware store and assign one color to each hunter in your group. If you would like some, please contact any Coppersmith location and we will be happy to provide them to you.

If taking your firearms abroad, you will need to have the proper documentation. The US requires that you fill out a 4457 Permit that can be obtained at cbp.org. This document will need to be filled out with your legal name as well as the make, model and serial numbers of your firearms and optics. You will also be required to take this document to your local US Customs office to be certified by a Customs agent. When arriving at the Customs office, leave your firearm in your vehicle and they will come out to verify the information as well as stamp your document with a validation stamp. DO NOT sign your 4457 until you are in front of this agent. You should also contact your outfitter to verify what documentation you will need for their country. There are also several companies abroad that can assist you with the documentation for bringing your firearm into their country as well as the clearance with their authorities. Using a company like RiflePermits.com is highly recommended with a low cost. You will also need to confirm the regulations of any country you will be transiting through. Create a packet with a copy of your Passport, itinerary, 4457, permits for the country of your destination and your invitation to hunt. Make several copies of this packet and include one copy in your firearm case. NEVER surrender your original packet.

Yes there are several animals that have special requirements.  First and foremost are the restrictions for CITES Animals.  CITES stand for the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species.  There are 3 levels of CITES with different levels of permitting.

CITES 1 – Highly Threatened – Requires an Export Permit from country of origin and an Import Permit for the country you are importing to.

CITES 2 – Threatened – Requires an Export Permit from the country of origin 

CITES 3 – Mildly Threatened – Does not require permitting 

There are also animals that if the SKIN is not fully tanned and/or mounted will be required to go to a USDA Approved Establishment for further processing to prevent disease. We need to know if you are bringing back any of the following animals.  They will require special document handling and also must be trucked to the approved establishment. Some ports of entry may also require these animals to stay at the airlines during their clearance. Decide before your hunt which approved establishment you will be using. The following animals are:

  • Primates – Monkeys or Baboons 
  • Swine – Bush Pig or Warthogs
  • Birds and Water Fowl 
  • 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.

Your first line of defense is to contact Coppersmith to set up your account. You can request our Hunt Tags to be used for the individual trophy parts you will be importing. We have developed a new kind of hunt tag for our clients. Our Hunt Tags are made of Tyvek and designed to survive through the entire taxidermy process. 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 with a permanent marker. You should place 1 tag on each piece.  If you are hunting with a group we recommend that you purchase 8-inch day-glow colored electrical ties from your local hardware store and assign one color to each hunter in your group. If you would like some, please contact any Coppersmith location and we will be happy to provide them to you.

At the end of your hunt you will fill out a Hunt Register with your outfitter on behalf of the local Nature Conservation Authority.  This will contain information about the animals that were harvested. This includes:  species, quantity and other information about where your hunt took place.  Make sure you obtain and keep a copy of this document.  All other documentation will be obtained by your foreign taxidermist and foreign shipping agent once your trophies have been completed and are ready for export. 

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. This is why the hunt tags are so important. Ask your PH or outfitter how they will be handling your skins. Some 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 can vary. Speak with your outfitter about their preferred taxidermist to get an estimate before your decision is made. They will contact you stating they require the remaining balance before they will release the animals for shipment. As soon as they receive payment, the taxidermist will arrange for pickup and delivery of your trophies to the transport agent. 

Prior to shipping of your trophies, Coppersmith’s Trophy Specialists will review all documentation to help ensure that there are no issues or advise that corrections that need to be made.

Yes there are several animals that have special requirements.  First and foremost are the restrictions for CITES Animals.  CITES stand for the Convention of International Trade of Endangered Species.  There are 3 levels of CITES with different levels of permitting.

CITES 1 – Highly Threatened – Requires an Export Permit from country of origin and an Import Permit for the country you are importing to.

CITES 2 – Threatened – Requires an Export Permit from the country of origin 

CITES 3 – Mildly Threatened – Does not require permitting 

There are also animals that if the SKIN is not fully tanned and/or mounted will be required to go to a USDA Approved Establishment for further processing to prevent disease. We need to know if you are bringing back any of the following animals.  They will require special document handling and also must be trucked to the approved establishment. Some ports of entry may also require these animals to stay at the airlines during their clearance. Decide before your hunt which approved establishment you will be using. The following animals are:

  • Primates – Monkeys or Baboons 
  • Swine – Bush Pig or Warthogs
  • Birds and Water Fowl 
  • 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.

Advise your outfitter and foreign taxidermist that Coppersmith is your Customs Broker and declare which port of entry you will be using. If they tell you that your trophies can only be imported to 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 and Customs Brokers rates can be very different. 

If the animals are fully mounted, or skins have been tanned– 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 been salted, dried and packed then they are called dip and pack and these may require reprocessing in some Ports in the U.S. before they can be transferred to you or your U.S. taxidermist. The invoice and shipping documents must indicate 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 genus and species of the animal being shipped. Once you notify us that your trophies are at a specific location, we will either contact the 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.

Ocean freight can be used for finished or unfinished trophies. However some carriers will not carry certain animals. The first thing to consider is the transit time is much longer – somewhere between 45 and 60 days. While the crates are containerized and stowed below deck, they may 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 are unaware of in advance. These could include document transfer, terminal handling, port security, exam charges, documentation, and shipping charges. These are charges that you will be responsible for.  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 not be there in the end.  These are all things that you must consider when deciding on the mode of transportation.

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.

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 are not permitted to share your personal information with anyone other than the Government Agencies involved in your specific transaction.

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.. 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.

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. This is why the hunt tags are so important. Ask your PH or outfitter how they will be handling your skins. Some 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 can vary. Speak with your outfitter about their preferred taxidermist to get an estimate before your decision is made. They will contact you stating they require the remaining balance before they will release the animals for shipment. As soon as they receive payment, the taxidermist will arrange for pickup and delivery of your trophies to the transport agent. 

Prior to shipping of your trophies, Coppersmith’s Trophy Specialists will review all documentation to help ensure that there are no issues or advise that corrections that need to be made.

Upon your return, call your local Coppersmith office that you have been in contact with or if you have not spoken to anyone yet, please give Michael Coppersmith a call at 404-366-1650 (ext. 113) and let us know who has your trophies and what time table you were promised for delivery. We can then determine the best port of entry for you and proceed with getting you in our system so we may proceed with your clearance.

Advise your outfitter and foreign taxidermist that Coppersmith is your Customs Broker and declare which port of entry you will be using. If they tell you that your trophies can only be imported to 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 and Customs Brokers rates can be very different. 

If the animals are fully mounted, or skins have been tanned– 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 been salted, dried and packed then they are called dip and pack and these may require reprocessing in some Ports in the U.S. before they can be transferred to you or your U.S. taxidermist. The invoice and shipping documents must indicate 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 genus and species of the animal being shipped. Once you notify us that your trophies are at a specific location, we will either contact the 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.

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.  This is always a recommendation on any shipment but is HIGHLY recommended if your trophies are finished. The shipping agent will likely require you to 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 you will not be making any payments 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 to the overseas agent for processing. There are some agents that will allow you send the shipment on freight collect basis where Coppersmith will bill you for all charges and then make payment to them on your behalf. Air shipments can generally be made on a collect basis; however ocean freight shipments must always be made on a prepaid basis because of extended transit times.

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

Although Coppersmith will be involved the entire time assisting you, 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 It is imperative that you be proactive and assures 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. This is why we always suggest using a Customs Broker to assist you along the way.

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. Dimensional volume will also be used when it comes to your domestic trucking.

The first airport your cargo arrives at in the United States is called the Port of Unlading. At this port the US 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 for certain animals that have restrictions – 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 accrue after 48-72 hours from arrival, depending on the carrier’s free time policy.

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.

Clearances usually take between 7-14 days from start to finish.  This is a rough time frame as we can only move as fast as the government agencies.  Our goal is to clear your shipment as quickly as we can.  

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 without the supporting documents. When we are notified we will immediately request a system wide search of the carrier. We will also go back to the overseas agent and request fax copies be sent and certified copies.  Any lost CITES documents will 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 replacements will be accepted. If they will not be accepted an order for re-export will be issued.  Almost all of the time, they will allow for new documents to be applied for. 

You can find a full list of the charges for each port in our New Hunters Packet.  We have a standard rate that we charge for Trophy Clearances but there are a few ports specific charges.  Those charges are listed on our rate sheets. Please select your port of entry from our resources page be directly taken to those sheets.

We accept personal checks with identification, cashier checks, money orders, and all major credit cards. All credit card payments will 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.

Ocean freight can be used for finished or unfinished trophies. However some carriers will not carry certain animals. The first thing to consider is the transit time is much longer – somewhere between 45 and 60 days. While the crates are containerized and stowed below deck, they may 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 are unaware of in advance. These could include document transfer, terminal handling, port security, exam charges, documentation, and shipping charges. These are charges that you will be responsible for.  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 not be there in the end.  These are all things that you must consider when deciding on the mode of transportation.

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. 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.

Do to new restrictions and US Customs new system ACE (Automated Commercial Environment) each 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 ACE system limitations, which only allow for the submission of a single ultimate consignee per each piece count. We do NOT recommend comingling shipments. Each individual that hunted must be packed separately with their own documentation.  

With Ocean freight, unless you can fill the entire container, your shipment will be part of a consolidation. This is something that you also must consider.  If there is a problem with one of the shipments, the entire shipment will be held until that issue is resolved.

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