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HMF-Harbor Maintenance Fee for Ocean Imports to USA

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What Is The Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF)


The main purpose of the Harbor Maintenance Fee is to help cover the costs of maintaining the Ocean Ports of the United States. Funds taken from the HMF fee are used for the Harbor Maintenance Fund which is controlled and distributed by Congress.

According to the US Customs and Border Protection, the Harbor Maintenance Fee is required at USA sea ports for all incoming commercial cargo.

How much will the HMF Fee cost?


The chargeable amount for the HMF is 0.125% of the total invoiced value of the cargo in transit.

The Harbor Maintenance Fee is not charged on air freight.

Importing from alibaba-never agree to ddu/DDP

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When ordering on alibaba, manufacturers and suppliers often offer DDU shipping as the default option. This puts the manufacturer in charge of your entire transaction where you, the buyer, ends up overpaying greatly for shipping services. You also risk doing so without having any control over who is transporting your goods or whether they will properly clear your goods through US customs. You want a customs broker and freight forwarder who will work on your behalf and will be available to communicate on US time. Thats where Freightclear/Cleared and Delivered comes in.

Choose EXW or FOB and hire FreightClear/Cleared and Delivered to take charge of your goods

So you hire us as your broker. You now have an entire US based import team who will look out for your best interests during this transaction. We will make sure you are charged fairly for the freight as well as handling any customs compliance issues clearing through a USA port. When the freight is cleared, we arrange port to door delivery that is fairly priced, fast and efficient. The best part of our service? We communicate with you the whole way. In the end, you will find you saved quite a bit of money over the DDU/DDP option.

Shipping EXW-This basically means you will trust your US based broker/forwarder to book your freight aboard an ocean vessel or airline. You are basically asking them to provide door to door services for your order. This may take slightly more work on your behalf, but is worth it when it comes to cost savings.


Shipping FOB-This means the supplier manufacturer is including the ocean freight as part of the purchase price. Once the ship leaves port, it is now your responsibility to clear and deliver to your door. This is where Freightclear/Cleared and Delivered makes the process simple. Once you get your bill of lading and ISF data sheet, its time to get a quote from us and get started. Once the freight arrives at your door..you will find the cost savings to ship EXW, FOB using Freightclear was much lower than most shipping options on Alibaba.





Importing alcohol/liquor to usa

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Federal Basic Permit

Persons seeking to engage in the business of importing distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages as defined in the Federal Alcohol Administration Act (FAA Act) into the United States must apply for a Federal Basic Importer’s Permit (“Importer’s Permit”). To obtain an Importer’s Permit, the importer must file an “Application for Basic Permit under the Federal Alcohol Administration Act” on TTB F 5100.24 (PDF) with TTB’s National Revenue Center (NRC).  The process may be done electronically, through Permits Online, or by submitting a paper copy of the form. TTB does not charge fees for issuing these permits. Please visit Permits Online for additional information including tutorials, tips for navigating the system, and current permit processing times.

To obtain an Importer’s Permit, the importer must maintain and staff a business office in the United States. If you are unable to conduct business in the United States, you must contract with an existing licensed importer in the United States. Making a commercial arrangement with an existing licensed importer eliminates the need to obtain an importer’s permit.

If you plan to sell at wholesale alcohol beverages other than those beverages that you directly import with your Importer’s Permit, you must also apply for a Wholesaler’s Basic Permit, unless those beverages are not subject to the FAA Act. You may apply for both permits at the same time through Permits Online.

If you need assistance completing your permit application, or have questions about the process, please contact the NRC toll-free at 877-882-3277 or use the online form.

Taxes, Duties, and Registration

Importers are responsible for all applicable Federal excise taxes and duties. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) collects all applicable Federal excise taxes on distilled spiritswine, and beer as defined in the Internal Revenue Code. CBP also collects all applicable duties. Additional information on excise taxes may be found on our tax and fee rates page. For information on duties, visit the CBP Duty Rates webpage.

Importers must register as alcohol dealers and complete TTB F 5630.5(d) (PDF), “Alcohol Dealer Registration,” before engaging in business. Importers must also file this form with TTB when there is a change in registration information and when discontinuing their business.

Certificate of Label Approval Requirements

After receiving the Importer’s Permit, the importer must obtain a TTB-issued Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) for each unique product/label for distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages as defined in the FAA Act.  To obtain a COLA, the importer must file an “Application for and Certification/Exemption of Label/Bottle Approval” on TTB F 5100.31 (PDF) with TTB’s Alcohol Labeling and Formulation Division (ALFD). The process may be done electronically, through COLAs Online, or by submitting a paper copy of the form. The importer must possess a COLA at the time of importation.

Note: As part of the COLA process, the importer may need to obtain pre-COLA product approval, depending on the product to be imported. For information on pre-COLA product approval, see Industry Circular 2007-4. The industry circular’s attachments for winemalt beverages, and distilled spirits indicate whether a product requires pre-COLA approval, as well as what type of evaluation, if applicable.

If you have any questions regarding the COLA process you may contact ALFD at 202-453-2250 or use the contact us form.

Natural Wine Certificate

Importers of wine made from sound ripe grapes or other sound, ripe fruit produced after December 31, 2004, must comply with certification requirements set forth under the Miscellaneous Trade and Technical Corrections Act of 2004 to ensure that the practices and procedures used to produce the imported wine constitute proper cellar treatment. For some grape wines imported from countries with which the United States has an enological practices agreement, no certification is required. Please refer to our list of excepted countries.

Certification may consist of:

  • a statement from the producing country’s government or government-approved entity having oversight or control of enological practices. This form of certification includes the results of a laboratory analysis of the wine performed by either a government laboratory or a laboratory certified by the government of the producing country.

or…

  • a statement from the importer, that is, a “self-certification.” See “Who may self-certify?” in our Certification Requirements Q&As for more information on this certification method and who may self-certify.

Certificate of Age and Origin Requirements

A certificate of age or origin is required for certain wines and distilled spirits imported into the United States.  The Certificate of Age and Origin Requirements for Imported Alcohol Beverages webpage provides a comprehensive list of such certificate of age and origin requirements.

Other Regulatory Considerations

In addition to the TTB requirements for importation, the importer must also comply with any applicable requirements of other Federal agencies. For example, the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 requires that anyone who manufactures, processes, packs, or holds food (including alcohol beverages) for consumption in the United States to register with the FDA. An importer of alcohol beverages is also required to provide prior notice of food (including alcohol beverages) to be imported or offered for import to the United States. For additional information, visit the FDA Prior Notice of Imported Foods webpage.

The importer must also meet the requirements of the State and local jurisdictions where the importer is engaged in the importation of beverage alcohol products. State and local jurisdictions may have their own importation requirements in addition to the Federal requirements. Importers should contact their State alcohol control board and/or local authorities for more information.

Importing From China: Shipping Lead Times

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Shipping and other lead times

The port to port lead time depends on the distance between the two ports. Here is an example of how those distances may impact the lead time:

Hong Kong – LA, USA: 20 days

Hong Kong – New York City, USA: 32 days

Hong Kong – Felixstowe, UK: 29 days

Hong Kong – Hamburg, Germany: 30 days

Hong Kong – Singapore: 5 days

Hong Kong – Sydney: 12 days

Bear in mind that it may be as long as a week before your cargo is loaded at the port in China. Administrative delays apply at the port of destination also, which, in many cases, can be even longer. In more rare extreme cases, you may face delays as long as two to three weeks at the port of destination.

Shipping by sea, in terms of lead times, is both slower and more unpredictable than air freight. With this in mind, companies importing from China by sea must do some significant planning, and have generous margins for delays.

If you need your goods in time for the Christmas season, you may want place your order in July rather than in September. As a rule of thumb, you should place your order 4 months in advance of your hard deadline.

Importing From China: Freight Insurance

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Freight Insurance

Insurance is included, by default, when you select CIF, standing for Cost Freight (and) Insurance. If you order shipping according to DAT (Delivered at Terminal) or DAP (Delivered at Place), you must inform your shipping company that the cargo must be insured.

Shipping insurance is cheap, and rarely costs more than US$50 to US$100. Normally, shipping insurance only covers the value of the cargo, in case of transportation damage. It will not cover lost sales, or product development costs.

Importing From China: FCL and LCL

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FCL and LCL Shipping

FCL is also the most cost effective freight method available, if counted by cost per volumetric unit and weight unit. FCL stands for “full container load.” It means that your container is yours- you aren’t sharing the container with any other parties, and you are welcome to use it as you wish.

LCL, or Less (than) Container Load. Basically, LCL is shared container freight. Cargo from multiple buyers is stored in the same container. The freight cost per volumetric unit is higher, as the shipping companies must factor in administrative fees that are fixed on a per consignee basis.

Importing From China: Shipping to an Amazon FBA Center from China

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Shipping to an Amazon FBA Center from China

Many importers ship their products directly from the factory in China, to an Amazon FBA warehouse. From there, Amazon manages the storage and distribution of these products.

Amazon operates according to strict regulations. As a seller, you must comply with their rules. This is what you must know about shipping to an Amazon FBA center:

1. The cargo must be labeled in accordance with Amazon’s cargo labeling policies.

2. The cargo must be palletized to facilitate quick unloading upon arrival. Each side of the pallet must be labeled.

3. The cargo shall be forwarded to the Amazon address, according to DAP or DDP terms.

Note that Amazon does not manage any shipping or customs clearance procedures. This is exclusively up to you as a seller to handle.

You can book DAP or DDP shipping from us.

Importing From China Part IV

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Part 4: Calculate Your Landed Cost

Once your harmonized tariff code is established, that information along with your goods certificate of origin can be used to calculate the land cost. The total cost of your import will comprise these 3 items:

-The price of the product from the supplier

-The shipping charges of your freight forwarding company

-the charges of customs clearance, duty and tax, and transport to your warehouse

Importing From China Part III

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Part 3: Ensure your product is physically legal for import

Certain items are prohibited for import into the USA. Make sure your intended goods do not violate any statutes regarding materials and hazardous products, and agree with American regulatory bodies, such as the FDA, FCC, FAA, and others. It is the importers responsibility to establish that their freight will be viable. If goods do not comply with American regulation, the importer can lose money and time, and their goods could be detained, or in worst-case scenarios, destroyed by United States Customs.

Importing From China Part II

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Part 2: Select What You Want To Import

As a trade company, your income will be generated by selling the goods that you import. Careful selection of your goods will result in an efficient business, and avoid undue loss of time or capital. We want to see you succeed, and your success is largely dependent on the items you select. To do this, gather as much information as possible on what you intend to import- understand the product, how its made, what materials it uses, etc. Understand the market, who currently sells it, how much does it sell for, and where and when is it popular? If possible, samples of the product can further aid your determination.

This information will all be useful to determine the goods’ tariff classification. A tariff classification, under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, allows the freight forwarder to properly identify the rate of duty which will need to be collected for the import.