When a shipment enters or leaves the country, customs reviews the accompanying paperwork and shipment contents to ensure the shipper has followed all the appropriate rules and regulations.
Know the Different Entry Types
While proper documentation is important for avoiding customs delays, it is also important to be familiar with the customs clearance entry types and processes.
Depending upon the value, commodity and entry type, the customs clearance process will vary.
- De Minimis ($0-$200)– this entry type is part of a consolidated pre-clearance using manifest data
- Informal ($201- $2,500) – this entry type clears customs as part of an informal manifest clearance managed under a DHL bond. Duty payment may be required depending upon the classification
- Formal (Over $2,500) – this entry type requires formal entry process. Shipments are held for separate Automated Broker Interface (ABI) entry. Duty and Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) payment is required
To make a formal entry of goods (for imported commercial shipments) into the U.S., the following documents are generally required:
- DHL Express waybill
- Commercial invoice
- Packaging lists
- Specific import permits or licenses for special commodities controlled by U.S. government agencies
Learn More About Special Case Documents
U.S. Prohibited Commodities
The following commodities are not acceptable for transport by DHL under any circumstances. This is a result of a policy decision, following the full consideration of operational, legal and risk management teams.
- Antiques (breakable and/or fragile)
- Firearms, parts thereof and ammunition
- Hazardous or combustible materials (as defined in IATA Regulations)
- Human remains, including ashes
- Jewelry, precious metals and stones
- Narcotics (illegal)
- Gambling Devices
- Property, the carriage of which is prohibited by any law, regulation or statute of any federal, state or local government of any country to or through which the shipment may be carried
Help Avoid Customs Delays
Before your exporter hands over shipments to DHL, help them make sure the paperwork is complete and accurate to help avoid delays in the customs process.
Review this checklist to help ensure faster customs clearance.
- Provide all necessary documents
- List each commodity separately with accurate descriptions
- Check for consistency across all documents
- Make sure documents are clearly written, typed or electronically submitted
- Provide as much detailed information as possible
- Confirm that all associated costs are correct
- Ensure that receiving country or person is not on a Denied Parties list