Terminal handling charge (THC) it’s a port charge for loading containers from terminal to the vessel (in case of export) or for unloading from the vessel to the terminal (in case of import). THC depends on the ocean line (carrier) and the port terminal. THC or DTHC (destination handling charge) are mandatory and cost 200 -250usd per container (depends on a container size).
During the customs clearance/control additional charges may occur due to CBP (customs and Border protection) request to inspect the freight. CBP can choose any shipment to exam. CBP does several different types of exams, for any variety of reason. Most of the exams are random checks and others are targeted at specific issues with some particular types of shipments. Examination may include one or more of the following:
VACIS / (NII) / X-Ray Exam
Raying the container. Using a gamma ray imaging system to examine the container’s contents without breaking the seal.
In this exam, Customs have the container moved to an exam area within the port and open the back of the container without handling the cargo. The seal is removed and, pending any suspicious indicators, could at that time be flagged for a more intensive examination or released. Costs for this exam range from $100 and up, depending on the port.
CET Exam (Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) Exam/Intensive Exam)
CET Exam is a physical examination and its usually initiated after a VACIS exam. In this case container it will be transported to a Customs Examination Station (CES). It may requires complete unloading and staging of the shipment for piece by piece examination of the cargo.
Team of U.S. Customs officials that examine invoices and packing lists on a random basis, it could led to other exam. Most common problems is under invoicing true value on the commercial invoice to submit to Customs and by lowing the duty/tax that need to be paid.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has it own set of inspectors. This exam occurs when the shipment contains food products or wood products at risk of containing pests.
CBP will release the shipment, but there will still have FDA hold on it. You could pick-up your shipment, but can NOT sell or alter until FDA hold is lifted. FDA will send you notification when you can use or sell or if the shipment must be returned to your vendor (normally it could take 4 weeks from FDA). The container will be move to Centralized Examination Station (CES) for physical inspection. CBP may place several types of “hold” on importer container and this type of “customs hold” must be removed before the importer can pick up the container.
Manifest hold – lack of information from the importing carrier manifest.
Commercial enforcement hold – CBP needs to verify the product standard safety, copyright and trademark.