As we all know, there are certain US customs exams in place within the shipping industry. However, very few know what they all mean and how they help which is why we have created this brief guide here today!
VACIS Exam/X-Ray – First and foremost, the VACIS Exam is held by US Customs and is necessary for importing goods as it stands for Vehicle and Cargo Inspection System. After the attacks in September 2001, US Customs teamed up with the Office of National Drug Control Policy as well as the Department of Defense to target those looking to import illegal currency, drugs, or weapons.
Without having to break the seal of any packaging, the process uses an x-ray system and gamma rays to assess the contents within. Since the equipment is mobile, it’s also used on road and rail; typically, the inspection will take place at port premises or at the docks upon arrival. In a standard check, the importer and imported goods will be chosen before arrival (the importer will pay the fee). Once the cargo arrives, Customs Border Protection (CBP) will run the exam within 48 hours.
MET Exam – Standing for Manifest Examination Team, this group of individuals will assess the paperwork and all documentation of importers at random intervals. If any issues are highlighted within the MET Exam, a more intensive and extensive exam will take place soon after. Just like the VACIS Exam, the importer will bear the responsibility of the cost even if no suspicious contraband or malpractice is found.
CET Exam – Next up, we have the examination carried out by the Contraband Enforcement Team. Designed by the US Customs department, a CET Exam will normally take place on any shipment containing weapons, narcotics, or drugs. Once the shipment arrives, the CET Exam will see team members physically inspect the cargo.
Once the CET Exam has been ordered, the cargo will be moved to the closest CFS where the inspection will take place. With this kind inspection, private contractors are actually allowed to complete the job and the cost will go to the importer even if the inspection highlights no problems. If the importer cannot pay the fee for the inspection, the container will not be released despite passing through customs successfully.
OGA Exams – Although these are the three main exams experienced by importers, we should also note Other Government Agency (OGA) Exams. If imports entering the United States fall into a certain category, they may have to go through specific exams. For example, OGA entities include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Department of Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Political Military Defense Trade Controls (PMDTC), and Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS).
If we use the FDA as an example, they might want to inspect cargo to ensure they comply with all FDA laws and regulations. With each OGA, they will enforce their own regulations and the FDA prioritizes the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act). As well as having jurisdiction over all imported products within these niches, they can also take action once the products have entered domestic commerce.
With every OGA, they’ll have their own set of regulations applicable to their own niches. If you’re an importer, you need to be aware of which OGA is responsible for the type of products you import.
Summary – There we have it, the US Customs exams that can be introduced or summoned at any point. With all exams, the cost falls to the importer even if nothing suspicious is found.