RE: Shipment Stopped by US Customs

My Federal Express package (audio equipment, of course) was shipped from Canada on Monday, December 12 for delivery to my home on Tuesday. Unfortunately, it was stopped in Indianapolis by US customs (Over $ Limit). My shipment required an importer's registration/identification number for clearance. I could not believe it.

The Federal Express Import Coordinator called me early Tuesday morning and said I needed to complete an Importer ID Input Record and fax it back to her to get the package released. You only have 5 business days to obtain the required document, until the shipment is returned to the shipper. She emailed me the form and I immediately faxed it back. My package cleared customs several hours later. This delay now means a Wednesday delivery.

The Federal Express Coordinator said this was a normal process by US Customs. I was told that every shipment coming from Canada requires proper paperwork to get clearance from US Customs.

It seems this is not a shipper problem but my problem. Is there anything I can do in advance of the shipment to ensure it gets cleared by US Customs? Is this really a normal process by US Customs?

Was your package shipped by Ground or by air?
What happened to NAFTA?
As requested above, my package was shipped from Canada by Federal Express International priority service overnight delivery signature required.
After some negative experiences on having audio goods shipped from Canada to the US I stopped buying unless the seller could deliver to a border UPS outlet. I did this for customs, shipping cost and insurance coverage. So, I suggest that you ask your seller, as part of the deal, to do the same. It saves a lot of hassle and goods generally arrive quicker and un damaged.
I have found that FedEx and UPS are different. Had some speakers shipped from Canada via UPS and they would have shown up on time, had someone from UPS not neglected to remove the package from the warehouse once Customs cleared it.

Some bicycle wheels from Canada, via FedEx, had the same complexities that you mention. Different carriers must have different arrangements.
I brought a TVC in from Canada earlier this year via Fed EX. I had the same experience. Both the seller and I stayed on top of it, otherwise, I would never have gotten the shipment. If you expect to be bringing goods in on a regular basis, you can get set up so it is no big deal, but there is a financial investment required that would not make sense for most of us. About 4 years ago, I brought another piece in from Canada UPS and that was a bit easier, but I think the difference was that the first item was rather inexpensive. My experience is that I would not bother with bringing something in from Canada unless it was a special piece that doesn't come up often. It is just too much trouble.
I finally received my Federal Express package today at 11am. I told the Federal Express delivery person the package was one day late and he said it was held up by US Customs. He said this happens all the time. He suggested that for any future deliveries from Canada, I request the shipper to include a commercial invoice with the package. I am checking on this and will post what I find.
I have new information from the Federal Express ECO Import Coordinator that explains my problem with US Customs (package coming from Canada).

My shipment did include an invoice, and an invoice is always required for entry to United States Customs. An invoice is absolutely required for the entry to be processed. Although, that was not the case on my shipment. My social security number was NOT on file with United States Customs, for a formal entry. In the case of my shipment, the goods were valued over 2,000.00 USD, which required a formal entry for the commodity I was importing. That is what held up my shipment, and is why I had to complete the Importer ID Input Record form. Yes, an invoice is always required, but that was not the situation with my shipment, as the shipper provided the invoice.

Since my social security number is now on file with US Customs, I should be okay for any future deliveries.
It is a US requirement and applies to shipment from anywhere around the world
- I believe this went in effect in 2003 as part of the Homeland Security Act.
I ran into the same issue. You might get a bill for the duty/tax/customs that FedEx paid for you to bring the equipment into the country.
If its light enough to ship via Canada Post, you most likely will not run into that problem.
Interesting post. I just bought a McIntosh Tuner from an Audiogon member in Ottowa. It took nearly 12 days to arrive here by UPS ground. And worst of all, it appears the package was opened and loosly replaced in the box with some of the alleged packing materials missing.
It is deffinately the last time I will ever buy an item from a Canadian member again.
Your package was probably delayed and opened at US Customs.
They are known for callous "repackaging" of inspected items.
I have had items crudely stuffed back into original packaging by someone who obviously doesn't give a damn. This is a fact of life if your package has the misfortune of landing in their hands.

Fortunately, most things don't get inspected any more. If the item can't be sent through Canada Post I would forget it unless your Canadian seller can bring the item across the border and ship from a US location.

When I owned Classe products they were sent to a USA address and they took the items across the border into Canada. I assume this was to avoid the hassles involved with shipping direct. This method works quite well.
Buy from USA only!!
I've had several items (from $2K~6.5k per item) shipped from Canada. Each shipment was damaged via DHL and involved claims. Got replacements after further long periods, then to top off the aggrevation...received a nice tax bill TWO YEARS LATER from the state of California @ 7.5% that I neglected to consider. No more International purchases for me!
Sounds like Fedex will extort some money out of you.