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Every country processes imports. In some, the import process is minimal; in others, delays for paperwork and official authorizations can be significant. Some countries offer accelerated customs clearance, but a trader must still file proof of source and destination, complete certificates and forms, and satisfy local customs officials. Even for products subject to no import restrictions, certain data is usually furnished to a customs authority so the government can compile trade statistics and assess fees and taxes. Importing is always evolving. To decrease border delays, many countries are consolidating departments, revamping reporting requirements, and implementing computerized systems. Some allow for preshipment inspections and pre-entry filings. Traders should keep checking for new options.

Import requirements depend on the laws and regulations of the importer's own country, not those of the exporting country. In general, a country has one authority that is primarily responsible for administering its import laws. Depending on the type of product, a number of other authorities may indirectly control the process, as well. These may include agencies that enforce health, agricultural, environmental, transport, navigation, construction, and consumer laws. Thus, traders must comply not only with import laws, but also with all other laws specifically regulating the consumption or use of the product within the importing country. For some products, government regulations are so complex that traders typically retain customs brokers or freight forwarders to assist in compliance.

Customs Clearance
Depending on such factors as the nature of the product, size of shipment, country of import, available automation, and shipper's reputation, the entry process may require hours, days, weeks, or even months. Most shipments can be immediately released for transport into the country. Goods not immediately released are held at the border or transferred to storage facilities in bond, if available, to await processing. Officials may also reject goods for noncompliance and return them to the shipper. A trader can usually keep border delays to a minimum by preparing in advance to meet the following requirements: Standard documentation Product compliance Payment of assessed duties and other charges.

Other Assessments
Customs fee Many countries charge a customs processing fee to cover the costs of inspection and approval. It may be levied as a flat charge or a percentage of the value of the goods. Value-added tax (VAT) Some countries impose a value-added tax on imports. This tax is assessed on the amount by which the value of goods has been increased because of importing. The value is considered to increase, for example, by the tariff assessed, any customs fee paid, and the shipping, insurance, and related transport charges.

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