As the Cleveland Centralized Examination Station (CES), we understand the goals of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in examining cargo imported by land, air, and sea. The foremost purpose is keeping our country secure and citizens safe. However, we also fully understand the anxiety that can accompany word that your cargo has been flagged for a U.S. Customs exam – particularly as such action can result in major delays and expense for stakeholders.
Bear in mind that in addition to its own regulations, the CBP is tasked with enforcing hundreds of laws on behalf of 40+ other federal agencies, including the USDA, the FDA, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Understanding what triggers an examination may help you avoid one. At the very least, you’ll know better how to aid authorities in a manner that helps expedite the process and get your goods moving as soon as possible.
That said, not all circumstances that result in a U.S. Customs exam or manifest hold are within shippers’ control. In fact, shippers might do everything “right” and still find their goods among the 3-5% selected for closer inspection.
Some of the holds that authorities can place on international shipments include:
- Manifest hold. This occurs when there is a problem with documentation. Usually, it’s the result of missing paperwork, such as a bill of lading. Typically, the U.S. Customs agent is going to request additional or corrected paperwork and then your goods will be on their way.
- CET Hold (A-TECT). This is a hold imposed by the Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team. This is a special branch of the CBP, which imposes holds on shipments suspected of containing potentially unlawful items (drugs, currency, weapons, or other illicit materials).
- Commercial enforcement hold. This is sort of a blanket hold that is going to cover a range of potential issues – not only from the CBP but other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The overarching goal is to ensure that any goods entering the country are compliant with federal laws and regulations.
- PGA Hold. Similar to a commercial enforcement hold, a Participating Government Agencies Hold means the shipment in question was flagged for compliance issues, rather than customs issues.
- Statistical Valuation Hold. This occurs when there is a discrepancy between your shipment and the manifest. For instance, if the weight of your shipments is much higher than might be anticipated given the commodity, the shipment might be flagged for a statistical valuation hold.
If your shipment is flagged, there can be one of three types of customs exams: Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System (non-intrusive inspection), a Tail Gate Exam (examiner breaks the seal of your container and reviews some of the contents), or an Intensive Customs Exam.
That last type is where a CES comes in. For this kind of exam, your goods must be transported to a CES, unloaded, held, inspected, and then reloaded before heading to its next destination. The shipper must pay for drayage and detention costs, as well as the labor to load and unload and reload. An Intensive Customs Exam may cause up to 30 days in delays and cost up to a few thousand dollars.
Having an efficient Cleveland Centralized Examination Station can help to speed up the Customs inspection process and reduce the amount of time your goods are tied up.
What, Exactly, is a Cleveland Centralized Examination Station?
A CES is a place where Customs officials can come to physically inspect and examine import and export freight and cargo. These are privately-owned and operated facilities (like On Time Delivery & Warehouse) that allow for physical examination of internationally imported or exported goods.