Overseas Supplier Guidelines
This brief guide is designed to assist new or existing suppliers in meeting our requirements for trouble-free shipments to Chichester, Inc.
We reply on you to ensure very high levels of quality control in your shipment. The goods must match the specifications.
Pictures by E-mail or Website where Possible
If possible, send us pictures by e-mail of what you expect to ship. Ideally, take multiple photographs of an item so we can see the item from a variety of angles. Anything you can do to avoid or reduce confusion and misunderstanding will help make for a good long-term business relationship.
We rely on you to obtain any required permits. Please ensure that these permits are properly completed. We had one shipment of ostrich eggs from South Africa that were almost siezed and destroyed because the supplier failed to put the type of disinfectant used to clean the eggs.
For example, agricultural permits for various products and CITES (the Contention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna) permits are often required for some skins, hides, furs, and flowers or woods. Make sure that these documents are completed accurately and fully.
Review all documents prior to sending the shipment to ensure that everything moves smoothly.
Frequent and Accurate Communication
Stay in touch with us. Don't keep us guessing about what is going on. Send frequent e-mails and faxes. We want to review all pro-forma invoices prior to your sending the shipment.
We have had shipments arrive and clear customs before we even have seen a copy of the invoice. I am baffled why exporters are not in a hurry to invoice for merchandise shipped. The invoice should be faxed the moment the goods are ready to go.
Make sure to invoice at the price agreed upon at the time of the order.
Send us a full document set once the shipment leaves.
Invoice in English
We require that all invoices be prepared in English. Failure to meet this requirement may result in delays and charges that will be posted to your account.
Include banking information with your invoice so the customer knows where to the payment.
Please insure all merchandise being shipped to us. Often the cost is quite low.
Proper Country of Origin Markings
Very few exporters anywhere in the world understand the significance of Country of Origin markings. The U.S. in particular is very fussy about informing its consumers about where products originate. You may think this is silly, but U.S. Customs is very strict about this type of labeling. Most knowledgeable importers in the U.S. and Canada specify the type of Country of Origin markings when placing orders with suppliers overseas. If U.S. Customs inspects the shipment and the origin markings are insufficient or absent, they can either seize the shipment, fine the importer, or insist that all products are marked properly in a bonded warehouse by semi-literate staff who will be billed out at US$45.00 per hour or more. The cost of having a shipment sitting in a bonded warehouse can be frighteningly high. The customer may have to pay US$10.00 to US$20.00 per skid per day while the goods are tied up. The merchandise will have be unpacked, marked, and re-packed.
To add insult to injury, U.S. Customs will now place the importer on a watch list and start monitoring his shipments from countries around the world.
Your failure to comply with our request for proper country of origin markings can result in hundreds if not thousands of dollars in charges and considerable on-going bureaucratic hassles for him.
Mark the products. Try to do so in the least destructive way possible. For many items, attach a hang tag with the words Made in South Africa stamped on the tag. For hides and skins, the markings must be in ink, ideally near the corner of the skin. Metal products must have the country of origin markings stamped into them. If in doubt, check with the customer for instructions on how to do this properly.
If you commit to a certain time frame for sending a shipment, meet the deadlines or inform the customer to let him know that there is a problem. In many cases, if shipments are too late, the customer will miss his selling season. Do not be surprised if the customer refuses the shipment or offers only partial payment in order to accept a late shipment.
Accurate Invoices, Packing Lists, and Permits
I am surprised at how many suppliers do not know what a proper commercial invoice looks like. Each invoice should have the words Commercial Invoice across the top, full contact information for the supplier and customer (company name, contact person, address, phone number, fax number, e-mail address), a full description of the product, the quantity of each item, the unit cost, the extended cost, the currency being used, an invoice number, date, the country of origin, etc. If in doubt, ask your customer what information he requires on the invoice.
The packing list should have the full contact information for the supplier and customer, the date, and a list of contents for each box or package. The packing list should make it very easy to identify which box contains which item. This is crucial for the customer to check in the merchandise when it arrives as well as for U.S. Customs or other government agencies to locate merchandise that they wish to inspect.
I continue to amazed at how many suppliers get the counts wrong on merchandise they ship to us. Double check your counts. Suppliers are not pleased when they are charged for merchandise that was never shipped. In the case of overages, U.S. Customs will assume that you are trying to evade duties. This is not a good situation.
Never send anything in a shipment that is not documented on the packing list, invoice, and export certificates or permits. I have heard stories of U.S. customers who order products and get surprises such as a lion's skull thrown in with other animal skins and not declared. Never include free samples without including them on the invoice. The customer should never open a box and find something that was not declared. If U.S. Customs or Canadian Customs opens the shipment and discovers undeclared items, they can seize the shipment. This is not good for your ongoing business or chance of getting paid.
Work to avoid breakage. It doesn't make sense to pay hundreds of dollars to ship something that gets broken in transit.
Labeling of Boxes with Contents
Label each box with its markings and a list of its contents. There is nothing like getting 50 boxes of stuff and trying to determine what is in each box.
If you have specific questions or if I can be of service, please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please make sure to have a clear title line on your e-mail (such as Question about exporting to the USA) so your e-mail does not get accidentally deleted as spam. The more information you can provide on what it is that you are trying to do, the better I can help you.