Anatomy of a Customs Exam

anatomy of a custom exam

Anatomy of a Customs Exam!

When importing a product from overseas, whether its books, toys, clothes or whatever product, you can experience the dreaded customs exam!    Exams are common in today’s security driven world and are becoming common as the US laws progress.

Here are some types of exams that may occur when importing your goods:

  • VACIS exam

– Vehicle and Cargo Inspection Systems) which are done either at the pier or at another locations in the port complex. This is thought as an x-ray exam, where a trained inspector reads a radiographic image without breaking the seal of a container.

  • Tailgate exam

    – customs or another government agency opens the container and looks in without handling the cargo. If they think anything is suspicious than an intensive exam is required.

  • Intensive exam

    – this intrusive exam, this is where the container is drayed/carted to a customs exam site and the contents are physically inspected.

  • USDA exam

    – usually looking for insect infestation or improper wood packaging.  Customs can either do a tailgate of intensive exam depending what they find.

  • CET exam

    – Enforced by the Contraband Enforcement Team, this exam is conducted by the CET team for suspicion of contraband being in the container.

Importers are getting more used to the frequency of exams, which is still a mystery as to why a particular shipment is chosen for these exam holds. Using PRC Book Printing services, we have established a great track record with Customs.  When printing overseas there are many issues that can arise during importing of goods, where PRC Book Printing will handle all the unfortunates issues and fees if should arise during this process.

(This blog is for informational purposes only. We assume no legal liability for any erroneous information.)

If you’re interested in more information about PRC Book Printing and / or this blog, please

contact us at 888-659-8320 or email

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