We have had a question from a customer in the USA. Our terms of sale are DDP Lakewood and the forwarder invoices us with USA duties. The question our customer has asked is: Are we the Importer of Record? Are we?

The “importer of record” is a legal status giving responsibilities under US law to the party named on the import declaration. Normally this party is resident in the USA and has placed power of attorney (POA) with a US customs broker to make declaration on their behalf. A company not resident in the USA can also give power of attorney to a US customs broker. If you have done this your company is the “importer of record” but the customs broker (forwarder) is the Principal Party in Interest – in other words they are the resident party who would receive any queries/ fines from US Customs.
If you have never signed a power of attorney (POA) then one of the following might have happened:

  1. You are using a fast parcel operator, e.g.  Fedex/UPS/DHL and because the goods are below their accepted threshold they are acting as the broker under their own rights to make the customs declarations or;
  2. Although you are paying the customs duty and tax into the USA when the declaration is submitted to US customs the broker is using another company’s POA and IRS (Inland Revenue Service reference) – perhaps your customer’s. This would make the customer the “importer of record” with charges billed back to the UK.

I’m afraid you may have to contact the customs broker in the US to find out what they are doing. You have probably grasped the fact that the “importer of record” has the legal responsibility for the import consignment which would include compliance with the USA chemical regulations. Hope this gives you something to work on. 


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