We're often asked if a non-resident or foreign entity can be the importer of record, to which we have an easy answer. Yes, they can. However, a few simple items are required to make that happen. The importer, resident or not, should first understand the obligations and expectations of being an importer. You can read more about those requirements here.
I'll break this down in two parts: (a) registration and (b) entry. Let's start with the power of attorney and importer registration. Here are some things to be aware of:
- Corporate Certification. In addition to a power of attorney, CBP also requires that the importer of record execute a Corporate Certification. The certification is executed by somebody other than the person that signed the power of attorney, affirming that the signer is authorized to bind their organization to a legal agreement of this nature, either through its Articles of Incorporate, Charter, by-laws, or resolutions.
- CBP Assigned Number. A non-resident is unlikely to have a Federal Tax ID, which is how CBP identifies the importer of record. In lieu of a Federal Tax ID or Social Security Number, importers can apply for a CBP Assigned Number. This application is part of our initial onboarding, so if an importer doesn't have a CBP Assigned Number, check the box and we'll get them one within minutes.
When filing an entry, there's one critical difference. See below:
Ultimate Consignee. The ultimate consignee is defined as the party in the United States to whom the overseas shipper sold the imported merchandise. If the merchandise has not been sold at the time of entry, the the ultimate consignee is the proprietor of the U.S. premises to which the merchandise is to be delivered.
Like an importer of record, the ultimate consignee is identified by their Federal Tax ID, which means we need this for entry purposes. Unlike an importer of record, the ultimate consignee does not need a bond and bears no legal obligation to pay duties.
For our FBA clients, this might be the Amazon or third party warehouse to whom you're shipping the merchandise. For Amazon, we can help you obtain the Federal Tax ID for this purpose.
Above all, do not declare a nominal consignee (carrier, express consignment operator, freight forwarder, or consolidator) unless they own the merchandise or accompanying documentation shows their premises as the location to which the merchandise is being delivered. This will cause shipments to be held by CBP and may result in penalties.
For those of you fascinated by the subject, you can read an 11 page directive that CBP issued back in 2001 here.
Three bullets, that's it. If you have any questions concerning this process, do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.