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Import and Export Paperwork


Stephen Faulk
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I need to zero in on the paper work to use to import instruments into the US. Is anyone comfortable discussing it that in public or are there few members who would be willing to give me some help and information via private message? 

 

I have had a minor 'situation' arise in sending an instrument to the US and I am trying keep that from happening again. I don't want to talk about  this particular instance publicly, but would appreciate anyone one versed in such matters listening to my situation and letting me know if I am being overly concerned.  

 

Otherwise anyone with knowledge of Import and Export paperwork who wants to mention any tips or anecdotes, comments, please go forth. 

 

And yeah sure grumble about the politics of it if you must, but keep it from killing the practical matters of the discussion. Grumbling does not help US get from PLACE A to POINT B , even though you may find it cathartic.  :D

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After 45 years of tearing my hair out with customs officials from various countries on every continent, I have come to the conclusion that they are a different (possibly even an extraterrestrial) species that have never heard of violins or violin related items. You understand that in saying this, my intension is not to insult these officials. It is just that they think in a completely different way to people who work with their hands, rather than their heads.

In the end I came to realize that my brain functions in a totally different way and that if I wanted to be successful, I would need some form of interpreter or go-between.  These people are known as ‘shipping agents’.  Shipping agents usually reside somewhere close to the portals through which violin and violin related objects are required to pass when leaving their home countries.  These shipping agents are telepathically linked to shipping agents all over the world. They are the Harry Potters of import and export. They make things happen. 

These days I never leave the country without one and I never allow my instruments to leave without one.  Shipping agents can be expensive, but once you have one that you can trust, you will never venture into the alien world of customs officials alone ever again.  Let them do everything. They usually have deals with companies like UPS and DHL, so that in the long run it does not cost much more than doing it on your own and the headaches are fewer and further between. Nevertheless, even when they do almost everything for you, you will still be required to do some work.  

If your items are stuck in US customs I would suggest that you contact a broker immediately. If you don’t it could take months to sort out the mess.  Many years ago the German customs held a cello of mine in Leipzig for 144 days, an easy number to remember and a difficult one to forget.  A broker working for a shipping agent had it out within 24 hours. 

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Thanks Roger, Nothing stuck in customs. Knock on wood that it never happens. Different issue.  When I was in the art  and museum business I had contact with customs brokers, but I did not pay enough attentions to glean any usable information. 

I guess I'm going to have to find one to work with or figure out how to do some things myself. One thing for sure the world of import export is not geared to small independent makers of things. 

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I've done a bit of importing and exporting of my instruments from the US to Canada and I'm well versed in the particulars of that situation. Exporting/Importing between Canada and the U.S. is somewhat simpler because of NAFTA. I'm not sure how much of my knowledge would apply to exporting to a country in the EU, or somewhere else, for instance.

If you would like to private message me I'm happy to discuss what I've found in my research.

Best regards,

Michael Doran

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Does anyone know if the various documentation one must comply with under the current amended form of the Lacey Act has to follow the item forever or only as far as the actual importer, and whose responsibility it is?  This came up in a discussion, and the implications are scaring me for buying imported instruments and materials for resale.

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Thank guys, I've contacted a friend who is an art shipper and he has recommended his customs broker. 

Why did I try I do it myself?  To save the fees. But the headache costs more. I have used DHL etc. and let them handle the customs expediting, but now I need another service. It means I have to charge more to recoup the fees and make my instruments less competitive. The market is tough already. 

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