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It’s Not What You Say, It’s What You Can Prove

Thu Feb 18 2010
Omari Wooden
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We all make mistakes or events are constantly changing in the world of exporting. You plan to ship your cargo on Friday, but it ends up going on Saturday. You file the wrong Schedule B number for milk. Instead of reporting, “0401.10.0000,” you report “0104.10.0000” for live sheep. Or instead of sending six crates, one gets left at the warehouse. Mistakes happen or things change. But after the mistake has been made or plans change what can you do to protect yourself from receiving a penalty as well as ensuring compliance with the Foreign Trade Regulations (FTR)?

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First, once a change or mistake is identified, I strongly recommend to companies, agents, corporations, or individuals involved in the exporting process, to immediately fix it. You’re required by the FTR section 30.9 to transmit any changes to the electronic export information as soon as changes are known. Your first piece of advice, fix all mistakes immediately.

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Second, document, document, document! I work with all types of companies involved in the exporting process and I always stress the importance of documentation. It’s not enough for your forwarders to verbally tell you that they reported everything correctly on your behalf. A best practice is to get a documented confirmation. Furthermore, it’s not enough for the supplier to provide the forwarder with a packing list that states “Freight of all kind (FAK) “.

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A best practice would be to provide the forwarder with accurate, precise product details. I strongly recommend that anyone involved in the export process retain clear and concise documentation for all their export shipments. If you are questioned about your shipment you should be able to produce documentation to support the information transmitted in the Automated Export System (AES).

Documentation is all about protecting you! It is mandatory that you retain, under the FTR section 30.10 documentation related to your export shipment for five years. Remember, it’s not about what you can say you’ve done, but it’s about what you can prove you’ve done.

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