There are over 300 ports of entry into the United States and the U.S.Customs & Border Protection (CBP) agency has jurisdiction over all of them. Ports of entry conduct the daily, port-specific operations like clearing cargo, collecting duties and other monies associated with imports.
A customs bond assures payment of duties and monies owed the CBP. The most common type of customs bond by far is the Activity Code 1, continuous customs bond. This bond covers all entries by an importer for a one year period. The Activity Code 1 single entry customs bond covers a single entry into the U.S. (Surety1 does not offer single entry bonds—we provide continuous customs bonds. These cover you for a year and renew annually.)
The bond limit of liability amount is fixed by the CBP, however, the minimum bond amount is $50,000. The bond can increase in multiples of $10,000 nearest to 10 percent of duties, taxes and fees paid by the importer or broker acting as importer of record during the calendar year preceding the date of the application. The CBP will tell you if you need a bond larger than $50,000.00.
For new importers, if no imports were made during the preceding calendar year, the bond amount will be based on the estimated duties, taxes and fees that accrue on imports during the calendar year, provided that the district director is satisfied with the accuracy of the estimate. Under no circumstances will a bond of less than $50,000 be accepted.
The law does not require you to utilize a customs broker, however, customs brokers are the only persons who are authorized by the CBP to act as agents for importers in the transaction of their customs business. Customs brokers are private individuals or firms licensed by CBP to prepare and file the necessary customs entries, arrange for the payment of duties found due, take steps to effect the release of the goods in CBP custody, and otherwise represent their principals in customs matters. In short, a good customs broker can be a great asset.
In most cases the bond can be purchase for just $249.00 per year. This includes the single bond ISF filing. This amount can be higher if you are importing items subject to anti-dumping duties, or other specific products deemed higher risk by the surety. It costs nothing to apply and obtain a firm quote.