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As the need for international shipments develop, there are key steps that any organisation or entity initiating shipping will need to undergo. Response organisations acting as exporters/shippers will need to take key actions to obtain information and coordinate shipments:

Data Required from Requestor/Receiver
  • Receive specific information about the required shipment – Quantities, specific item types, required dates, and more. 
  • Clarify import/export regulations into and out of the countries relating to the shipment.
  • Identify delivery terms, Incoterms and which parties are responsible for what stage of the customs process.
  • Identify all documentation needs with the receiver and provide advanced copies to the consignee or customs agent before the shipment.
  • If budgets are signed off by either or both parties, communicate potential costs for clearance and shipping.
  • Establish viable transport methods (air, sea, road, rail) and identify delivery locations and dates.
Shipment Preparation and Organization
  • Work with vendors to properly identify HS codes, and fulfil all documentation, packaging and labelling needs.
  • Understand national and international regulations surrounding both regulated or banned goods, and legalities around countries of origin/destination.
  • Include physical copies of all required customs clearance documentation with the shipment.
  • Ensure all required documentation is available, and (where available) double check physical cargo so that items, quantities, and dimensions match documentation.
  • Solicit, identify and contract with a transporter, freight forwarder or other certified entity familiar with customs.
Strategies for Emergency Response Organisations
  • Work with respective program and operations teams to identify routine response activities and pre-define cargo that will likely be used in response activities.
  • For propositioned stock, it is possible to pre-identify HS codes, shipping documentation needs, and screen against country level import regulations (example – WHO approved medicines list).
  • Solicit and identify third party vendors who can rapidly provide the specific products required for response, and make agreements that include documentation and labelling needs.
  • Develop agreements with forwarding agents and shipping agents to provide rapid transport service and information on customs and infrastructure bottlenecks.

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An organisation or an entity acting as importer or consignee intending to receive a shipment should also take steps to properly prepare and identify needs.

Defining the Importation Process
  • Any organisation used as a consignee for any shipment must be legally registered in the country of importation. The registration process varies from country to country.
  • Wherever possible consignees should avoid listing single individuals as consignee, or using abbreviated or acronyms for agencies as consignee names.
  • If necessary, solicit and enlist the services of a clearing agent/company that is duly registered and licensed by the customs authorities to process the import documentation through customs.
  • Work with national authorities (customs, health, bureau of standards, border security) and/or contracted clearing agent to identify import regulations and requirements and share with the exporter/shipper.
  • Work with national authorities and/or contracted clearing agent to understand all tariffs, duties, fees and possible exemptions.
  • Define with the exporter/shipper the Incoterms and limits of responsibilities with the forwarder and/or contracted transporter.
Preparing to Receive Shipments
  • If the importer/consignee is also the requester, the importer/consignee should endeavour to provide as much information on the required cargo to the exporter/shipper as possible.
  • Prepare for receipt, storage and inspection of the consignments in country.
  • Understand the entry points and bottle necks associated with customs clearance.
  • Have all documentation ready before consignment arrives.
  • Expedite clearances where possible by pre-clearing using advanced copies of documentation.
  • Track shipment and know when it arrives in country to avoid demurrage or lost cargo.
  • Pre-identify transport to remove cargo from customs, ideally planned around the size of the shipment. Have adequate storage or down-stream deliveries planned as well.
  • As soon as consignment arrives, arrange for inspection and clear the consignments through customs.
Possible Customs Specific Regulations for Importation
  • Temporary importation for use of items and re-exportation at a later date.
  • Provisional customs release pending perfection of the documentation at a later pre-defined date, e.g. pending exemption letter, certain permits.
  • Entry of re-exported cargo.
  • Entry of transit cargo, under security bonds.
  • Re-importation of cargo after temporary exportation for repair of maintenance.
  • Seizure and destruction of prohibited cargo.
  • Customs penalties/fines for incorrect declaration by consignees or their appointed clearing agents.
Strategies for Emergency Response Organisations
  • Liaise with programming and operational teams to assess needs, and use assessment outcomes to validate needs.
  • If possible, apply for authorities and waivers for the exports and the imports.
  • Attempt to expedite exemptions. Where exemptions are already given, immediately authorise shipment of consignments ensuring all the correct paperwork is in place and that the shipping instructions are appropriate.

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