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What is a customs hold?

Updated: Apr 15, 2021


Customs hold is CBP enforcement of screening all the goods that are importing into the USA by using risk-based analysis and intelligence to pre-screen, assess, and examine 100 percent of suspicious containers.



Each year, more than 11 million containers coming into the USA by sea, 11 million coming by truck, and 2.7 million by rail. CBP is responsible for knowing what is inside and whether the goods pose a risk to the American people and ensuring all tax duties are collected.


Customs hold, copyright CBP website
Customs hold, image from CBP website

What happens when your goods under customs hold?

Customs hold can cause major delays and extra charges to the importer. When your goods under customs hold, first, you need to know what kind of hold that CBP has placed. The most usual hold would be manifest hold, X-ray exam hold, USDA Hold, and intensive exam hold. We will go through these holds and what you need to resolve the hold on below. Second, you need to provide any supporting documents to CBP upon request in a timely manner to avoid excess exam and storage charges. The faster you resolve the hold the faster you can get your goods and minimize the extra cost accumulated through the hold.


What is manifested hold?

The manifested hold is a hold placed on the goods that have discrepancies between the information submitted to CBP and information on the CBP system. Such discrepancy can be carrier flight information, commercial invoice, piece counts of the goods and etc. Suspicious in the AMS and ISF filing will also cause CBP to take a closer look at the goods that are importing into the USA.


How long will manifested hold take?

Manifested hold by can just a very small issue, CBP usually will release the goods once supporting documents provided and matched on the CBP system. If CBP still feels suspicious about the goods, they will request a physical exam.


What is an x-ray exam hold?

X-ray exam hold is an examination of the goods using X-ray technology ordered by CBP to perform an X-ray exam upon goods arrival into the US ports. This exam usually flagged on the CBP system when CBP screening the goods and found suspicious. X-ray usually will process within the port terminal. Usually takes about 2-3 days depending on the capacity of the terminal. After done with X-ray exam CBP will decide if the goods need additional examination – physical exam.


What is an intensive exam?

An intensive exam is a physical exam performed by CBP Officer in a centralized examination station (CES). CBP Officer will physically open the shipment and inspect the goods hands-on. This can take a longer time, usually, 1-2 weeks or longer depend on the availability of the goods ready for CBP inspection and if the goods need additional assessment.


What is USDA hold?

USDA hold is a physical exam performed by USDA Officers to ensure the goods are not harmful to the USA environment. For some of the fruits and vegetables, USDA even inspected in origin country before it can ship to the USA.


Contact us below for free consultation: Fast Customs Clearance


Below is the link to all the exam codes that CBP use.

https://www.cbp.gov/sites/default/files/assets/documents/2017-Oct/ACE%20Appendix%20D%20Disposition%20Codes%20February%202015_0.pdf


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