If you are new to international exporting, please consider these words of caution from our Compliance Team at ICAT: Do your homework.
Without knowing it, an uninformed or lackadaisical shipper can face stiff penalties — financial, civil and criminal — by failing to comply with a host of domestic and foreign regulations that govern international shipments. Fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars are not unheard of–and some cases may be accompanied by jail time.
“The rules on documentation for air freight and foreign export are vast and can be confusing,” warns Echo Clayton, who serves as ICAT’s Corporate Operations Administration Manager. “But it’s not an area you can afford to overlook.”
Clayton, who has a license in export training, has been working in compliance for four years and has been with ICAT for more than a decade. “I study subjects like international traffic in arms, shipment of hazardous materials and other topics to support our clients’ international shipping needs,” she says. “I regularly take courses to stay current and I know from experience that it’s a mistake if our clients don’t have at least a working knowledge of compliance topics that pertain to the freight shipments they are planning to make.”
To help ensure compliance, Clayton suggests that clients take the following steps:
- Research pertinent customs and compliance requirements
- Establish a training plan for yourself and your employees
- Thoroughly vet all parties who will be involved with your international shipment to make certain they have the skill to guide you and will have your welfare at heart
- Communicate openly with regulators for guidance and direction
- Develop and carefully follow a compliance plan that includes every step you’ll need to follow to avoid breaches and missteps.
Below are five important websites where ICAT clients can obtain additional information about the rules governing international shipments:
www.bis.doc.gov – Bureau of Industry (BIS) offers online training videos and provides contact information on who to contact for classification of exports.
www.cbp.gov – Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
www.pmddtc.state.gov – U.S. Department of State Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) – deals with ITAR and the U.S. Munitions list. Registration information and contact available on site.
www.phmsa.dot.gov – PHMSA Pipeline and hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/Programs/Pages/Programs.aspx — OFAC Sanctions programs. You can search the specially designated nationals lists
“We can and do assist and educate our clients,” says Clayton. “Our operators are trained and they study regulations which are forever changing. If you have a question, ask us.
“We’ll do everything we can to support our clients, but in the end a shipper bears the absolute responsibility for following the letter of the law.”
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