If you’re looking to import with a freight forwarder such as ICE, the first step you’ll need to take is to send us your Customs Clearance Authority (CCA). Similar to a Power of Attorney, a CCA is a document needed to legally complete customs clearance on your behalf.
What is a CCA?
The CCA is a document that you, the importer, will sign to authorise a freight forwarder (such as ICE), to customs clear your cargo. Without this document, your freight forwarder will have no authority to carry out the actions required for your import.
Section 181(1) of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth) reads:
[A]n owner of goods may, in writing, authorize a person to be his or her agent for the purposes of the Customs Acts at a place or places specified by the owner.
You, the owner of goods, are therefore able to authorise us as your agent for customs purposes. It is an offence for us to work on your import in this respect without your authorisation.
Because of this, we require you to send us a CCA, which you can download below, prior to ICE completing your customs clearance work.
When do I need to provide a CCA?
You’ll need to provide us with a CCA well in advance of your shipment arriving.
Failure to provide a CCA to your freight forwarder prior to your shipment arriving can cause a range of issues including:
- Disputes over who is responsible for clearing the shipment;
- Lack of knowledge about the shipment, meaning the goods may go into storage at the destination port; and
- An inability to resolve other customs issues in advance.
To avoid these issues, we recommend providing us with a signed CCA as soon as possible when booking your cargo.
Can I issue multiple CCAs?
Some importers decide to work with multiple freight forwarders.
Each time you work with a new forwarder, you’ll need to submit a new CCA indicating that you authorise that forwarder to engage in customs clearance duties on your behalf. This will avoid any dispute when the cargo arrives.
You should also ensure that the CCA is also on your company’s letterhead.
Do other countries use CCAs?
Other countries use variants of the CCA. Depending on the terms of your shipment, your buyer or supplier overseas may or may not need to organise customs clearance locally. We recommend that you seek specialised professional advice regarding the documentation required by customs agents in overseas countries.
In the United Kingdom, customs agents require a power of attorney from importers in order to undertake customs clearance duties on their behalf. This has now become even more important with Brexit, which appears to have had an important impact on UK-EU logistics.
A draft form of a power of attorney drafted by HM Revenue & Customs is available on the UK Government’s website.
In the United States, customs brokers licensed with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection may act on your behalf upon the execution of a Power of Attorney (which you can read more about here).
Customs brokers are the only parties authorised by U.S. laws to act as agents for importers. Their duties involve preparing and filing relevant customs entries, arranging the payment of the various duties, and performing the necessary steps to release goods eventually into your custody.
Customs clearance agents in China will also require importers to provide them with a power of attorney in order to perform customs clearance activities on their behalf.
An English translation of Article 19 of the Order of the Customs General Administration of the People’s Republic of China says:
[I]n case the addressee or addresser is unable to be at the scene, the operator shall submit a power of attorney to the customs to represent the addressee/addresser to perform the obligations, and bear corresponding legal liabilities.
Customs clearance agents in Germany will need you to sign a power of attorney, also known as a ‘customs clearance instruction’ or a ‘customs power of attorney, in order to perform this work on your behalf.
If you have any further questions with regards to the role of a customs clearance authority and the powers given to freight forwarders like ICE in this respect, please contact us today. You can also leave a comment below.