Planning on buying from Alibaba or other e-Commerce websites? Make sure you know the basic requirements to import goods into the U.S. before making the payment to your seller to ship the goods. Shipping from Alibaba to the United States can either be a easy process or a headache if you as the buyer are not prepared.
When you are bringing in goods into the U.S., legally you are the Importer of Record, and the rules set forth by US Customs and Border protection will apply to you and your shipment, along with any fines or penalties for non compliance.
If your seller has informed you that the goods have been arranged to ship by ocean vessel. The first thing you must do is to ask your seller for the ISF information needed to file your ISF. The ISF Filing is required 24 hours before goods are loaded onto the vessel, late filings may result in $5,000-$10,000 penalty by CBP. If your goods are being arranged to ship by air, the ISF Filing is not required. ISF Filing is only required for ocean importations into the U.S.
Importer Cheat Sheet for Buying Goods from Alibaba:
If your seller arranges shipment by ocean vessel:
1. Ask them for ISF information and invoice at least 3-4 days before vessel departs.
2. When you have all information and documents from your seller, you can file your ISF here via the Live ISF Form, or File by Broker Option.
3. When your ISF is completed by us, follow on instructions will be provided for customs clearance.
If your seller arranges shipment by air cargo or courier shipment:
1. ISF Filing is not required for air shipments.
2. Arrange customs clearance services before goods depart from overseas.