What is POA (power of attorney)?
POA is a legal document that means a person authorizes an agent like a lawyer to handle matters for him. For example, when applying for immigration, you should grant your lawyer to buy a house, make payments, and submit immigration materials on your behalf. Here we focus POA on importing goods from China to the US.
POA meaning in shipping
POA is actually a delegation agreement, granting your appointed customs broker the legal authority to clear your goods through US customs on your behalf. It means that once you hire an agent for customs clearance, you will need a POA. Only after receiving the POA can your agent help you
- Buy the bond required by US customs if needed.
- Handle ISF declaration.
- Deal with other affairs related to customs clearance, like paying taxes and duties, etc.
When do you need the Power of Attorney?
POA must be set up earlier before your cargo declaration in China customs. Besides submitting a series of documents like a packing list for clearing goods, your shipment is also required for the declaration to US customs. For example, ISF must be filed no later than 24 hours before goods are loaded into the vessel.
What information does POA include？ (4 points)
Your agent will give you a POA template to fill out. Different agents provide you with various POA forms. But don’t worry, these forms basically cover the clauses and the following 4 parts for authorization. Here I take the POA of FedEx for example to show you what these 4 essential parts look like.
IRS number is the tax identification number registered by the US importers in the Internal Revenue Service. In the US, it is impossible to pass the clearance process without an IRS number. Moreover, the importer’s bond must be settled through the IRS number.
There are two types of IRS numbers.
- Employer Identification Number (EIN): Issued to business entities
- Social Security Number (SSN): Issued to individuals
You can consult your customs broker or freight forwarder for which type you are suitable.
The type of Entity
You need to indicate the type of company like individuals or partnership businesses in the POA. There are many options to choose from. You can fill in according to your current situation.
Name and address
If you are an individual, you need to write your full name and address. If you belong to a company, you need to write the full company name and address. Provided there are multiple addresses, use the address of your headquarters.
Authorized signature and date
Only with the authorized signature, the POA will be valid and legal. If you are an individual, it just requires your written full name. If you belong to a company, it requires a senior officer of your company to write his full name and capacity. Usually, only one authorized signature is needed. If companies in the EU export products to the United States, two senior officers of the company are required to authorize their signatures.
Except for the authorized signature, the above information can be directly provided to your agent, and let them fill it out for you.
What about POA validity?
Usually, there is no expiration date on the Power of Attorney, unless you are unwilling to cooperate with this agent and want to change one. Note if your company belongs to the partnership business, POAs must be limited to a maximum of two years.
One more thing, if there is any change like a new company name or address during the agreement’s term, the POA will become invalid and you must fill out a new one.
How much does POA cost?
POA costs vary from one customs broker/freight forwarder to another. And most agents will charge this fee together with other costs of US customs clearance. For the specific POA fee, you need to consult your agent.
In short, once you find an agent to handle cargo clearance, you need to sign a POA. The agent can be your local customs broker or freight agent. We have cooperative forwarders who are experienced in handling shipments from China to the USA.
Feel free to contact us if you need help.