Be aware of risks in using an express courier for import compliance

A recent discussion thread on the Foreign Trade Association’s (FTA) LinkedIn group page outlined the pros and cons of using an express courier (DHL, FedEx, UPS, etc.) for importing goods into the US.

On the positive side, the former head of compliance for FedEx Trade Networks (FTN) outlined the advantages of using FTN as express courier, including:

  • Large staff
  • Nearly 100 individuals overseeing compliance process, doing internal audits and resolving issues
  • Worldwide coverage by one party
  • Visibility at all stages to handling/documentation/clearance

One commenter stated that FTN is a much better option than its competitors, and a couple of others suggested that using an express courier for small, routine shipments is appropriate.

On the negative side, however, the concerns of many commenters about using an express courier included:

  • Trading speed and cost for compliance
  • Improper classification of goods
  • Need to micromanage courier
  • No designated personnel assigned to importer’s account
  • Clearance of products under the name of the courier, rather than the importer’s, results in importer’s inability to access import documents
  • Importer still liable for courier’s non-compliance

The FTA’s LinkedIn group page is available here (membership required).

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