Importing, Shipping Logistics, Transportation

How to Import Construction Materials

Construction materials in a warehouse being prepared for import.

A confusing process for many beginner shippers is understanding how to import construction materials into the U.S. Examples of this material include steel, concrete, wood, and other substances used for building structures. Nearly 32% of all building goods used in the U.S. come from various countries. The reason is due to the costs saved from offshoring goods from a country like China, nearly 50 percent. While importing may seem attractive, there are many precautions that the shipper must take beforehand. This article will be a brief introduction to bringing construction cargo to the U.S. For more information on starting, contact A1 Worldwide Logistics at 305-425-9513 to speak to a freight forwarder.

Why is Understanding How to Import Construction Materials Complex?

Shippers must follow various laws and regulations when importing goods from different countries. Most building supplies brought into the U.S. come from China, so China will be the country of focus. An example of a regulation is banning imports coming into the U.S. from China’s Xinjiang region. This is due to reported forced labor of the Uyghur Muslims used for product production. Understanding the laws and guidelines is the first step of the importation process.

Along with the regulations of the exporting country, it is essential to know the importing country’s laws. In the U.S., Customs and Border Protection (CBP) oversees imported freight. Construction materials like granite and sand require permits from regulatory agencies before U.S. entry. When choosing a supplier, it is vital to use a trustworthy source to ensure quality materials. Before importing freight, another consideration is the paperwork that CBP requires. Different types of goods can require specific documents, but the general paperwork includes:

  • Arrival Notice
  • Bill of Lading/Airway Bill
  • Commercial Invoice
  • Importer Security Filing (ISF)
  • Packing List

Since construction materials tend to ship in large quantities, the import may be costly. Shipments valued at or over $2500 require a customs bond. It is crucial to note that the shipper should submit the documents to customs days before leaving the origin country.

The Importation Process

Once the materials are ready to be imported to the U.S., they will be moved to a port in the origin country. Two of the most common methods of conveyance used in freight movement are transportation by air or sea. Containerships frequently move construction supplies due to the number of goods carried at a time. When the cargo first reaches the U.S. from an international country, they are subjected to import duties. Duties are tax payments required by the CBP, and shippers calculate them using the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.

Any cargo entering the U.S. risks being held up at customs before being released. This can be due to many reasons, such as poorly completed paperwork and unpaid duties. If the shipment goes smoothly and the filing is correct, customs will release the goods to the importer. While the import process may be complex, hiring a customs broker streamlines the process. A broker coordinates with U.S. customs to ensure the release of your cargo. To speak to one of our experienced customs brokers, contact a1 worldwide logistics at 305-425-9513.

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