ACH and PMS: two acronyms every importer needs to know
With higher tariffs on products imported from China—and with still higher ones slated for January—the global shipping landscape continues to shift, leaving importers scrambling to find relief. While customs is paying closer attention to countries of origin and other details disclosed on the commercial invoice, there is a way to find relief—and it’s hidden in two common acronyms.
Cathy Cheng, a licensed customs brokerage manager at Laufer Group International, suggests importers establish an Automated Clearinghouse (ACH) that allows for electronic payments to customs. Setting up an ACH can take up to three weeks, but the wait is worth it. “With ACH,” Cheng says, “importers pay their customs fees directly from their checking accounts.”
That’s not all. Once an importer has an ACH, it can be upgraded to a periodic monthly statement (PMS) account. After an additional two-week enrollment period, importers can pay their duties once a month, affording a payment delay not typical with customs duties. “PMS is important because it can improve an importer’s cash flow at a time when it’s needed more than ever,” says Cheng.
She adds that both of these payment systems have been around for a long time but that many importers don’t know about them. Previously, importers have relied on freight forwarders like Laufer to pay duties for them. However, due to the new tariffs, there is often a fee if freight forwarders need to pay customs duties. Importers can save that fee by paying duties directly to customs—in a way that gives them some much-needed breathing room.
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