Customs Bonds: The Complete Guide to U.S. Import Bonds

Successfully importing products is a multi-step process. Part of that process involves paying import duties and taxes. A customs bond can make sure payments are taken care of correctly.

    Last Modified: 

    May 6, 2024

    Customs Bond Definition

    A customs bond is a legal contract between an importer, a surety company, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), ensuring that all duties, taxes, and fees owed on a shipment are paid. Customs bonds are required for all commercial imports valued at more than $2,500, including shipments containing duty-free items. U.S. customs bonds are also commonly known as:
    • Import bonds
    • Customs entry bond
    • Customs surety bonds
    • Activity code 1 bonds (C1 bonds)
    The two types of activity code 1 bonds used by importers are known as single entry bonds and continuous bonds.
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    What is a Single Entry Bond?

    A single entry bond is best suited for importers needing only to import a single shipment at a specific port of entry. This type of customs bond works well if you occasionally import goods that have a low cost value.

    The value of the bond you need can vary too. At minimum, a single entry bond should be worth the value of the goods you are importing, plus any applicable duties, taxes, and fees.

    If your imports are regulated by another federal agency, you’ll need to get a bond worth three times the value of the goods imported. This means that if you are importing $8,000 in toys regulated by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, you’ll need a bond worth at least $24,000.

    If you are shipping your imports by sea, you’ll be required to obtain additional bond coverage to meet International Security Filing (ISF) requirements.

    What is a Continuous Customs Bond?

    A continuous customs bond covers all of an importer’s shipments at all U.S. ports of entry for a calendar year. If you need an annual customs bond, these can be set to renew automatically.

    Continuous bonds are best suited for importers that plan on importing multiple shipments, or using multiple ports of entry, over a 12-month period.

    You must purchase at least $50,000 in coverage when getting a continuous bond. The total cost may rise depending on the tariff rates and taxes owed on your shipment.

    Bonds are calculated to cover at least ten percent of the duties and taxes collected by the CBP. It’s worth noting that a continuous customs bond will also cover ISF bond requirements when shipping goods by sea.
    Customs Bond Process - Diagram

    What Does a Customs Bond Cover?

    A customs bond acts as a financial guarantee of any fees (including duties, taxes, and fines) owed to CBP on a shipment into the U.S.

    The amount that a bond covers is relative to the size of bond needed for the fees owed on the imported goods. Typically, the bond amount is at least 10 percent of the total duties and fees paid to the CBP. As a benchmark, this total is usually $50,000 at the minimum.

    If you need a larger bond amount, please refer to CBP’s calculation table below:

    Total Duties & Taxes

    Bond Size

    $0 to $499,999


    $500,000 to $599,999


    $600,000 to $699,999


    $700,000 to $799,999


    $800,000 to $899,999


    $900,000 to $999,999


    $1,000,000 to $1,999,999


    $2,000,000 to $2,999,999


    $3,000,000 to $3,999,999


    $4,000,000 to $4,999,999


    $5,000,000 to $5,999,999


    $6,000,000 to $6,999,999


    $7,000,000 to $7,999,999


    When Do I Need a Customs Bond?

    There are two main situations in which you’d need a customs bond. These situations include:
    1. Commercial imports valued at $2,500 or more.
    2. Imports of goods subject to regulations from U.S. government agencies (i.e. USDA regulates wood, CPSC regulates toys, FDA regulates pharmaceuticals). In this case, the bond amount must be equal to three times the value of the shipment.
    Think of a customs bond as the ticket you pay for your goods to gain entry to the United States. Before you purchase that bond, your imported goods will be held at customs pending approval until you show proof of that bond. You need the bond to gain final approval to release your goods.

    How Much Does a Customs Bond Cost?

    At USA Customs Clearance, a continuous customs bond costs $235* and provides you with $50,000 worth of coverage for 12 months from the date of purchase.

    If you need more coverage, contact our team and we’ll be happy to accommodate your importing needs.
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    How Do I Get a Customs Bond?

    Customs bonds are usually obtained through a Licensed Customs Broker, and require you to fill out a customs bond application in the form of CBP Form 301.

    At USA Customs Clearance, you can fill out the application and obtain your customs bond directly on our website. The process to get a customs bond through USA Customs Clearance is as follows:

      1. Purchase your continuous customs bond from us
      2. Complete the simple & quick online application
      3. Receive approval for your application the same day
      4. Begin importing with your bond within 2 days of CBP application activation

    When you utilize the services of a Licensed Customs Broker, you ensure your bond is correct, complete, and secured. Licensed brokers can handle the behind the scenes work involved in getting the bond for you.

    Connect with a customs broker and let our helpful, knowledgeable staff answer your questions and guide you through the customs bond application process.
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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Not seeing your question here? Contact us today! We’re ready to assist you.

    That means you did the right thing and got a customs bond! In short, a bonded shipment means your goods are covered for customs charges, including all duties, taxes and any penalties that may occur during the import process.

    When you are shipping goods in-bond, that means your products are moving within the United States, but are still waiting on official customs clearance from Customs before the goods can officially be sold. Customs Brokers can help your goods obtain official approval from CBP.

    Import bonds are used by Customs Brokers to clear goods. The bond is critical because it:

    • Contains a unique bond number tied to your company’s importer number (Tax ID)
    • Is valid at all U.S. port of entry
    • Remains tied to all importing documents filed for your goods

    Yes, there are many different types of customs bonds, used for a variety of situations. Each type of bond is labeled with a different Activity Code.

    • Activity Code 1 - Import Bond
    • Activity Code 1a - Drawback Payment Refunds Bond
    • Activity Code 2 - Custodian of Bonded Merchandise Bond
    • Activity Code 3 - International Carrier Bond
    • Activity Code 3a - Instruments of International Traffic
    • Activity Code 4 - Foreign Trade Zone Bond
    • Activity Code 11 - Airport Security Bond
    • Activity Code 16 - Importer Security Filing Bond
    Looking up and verifying the status of your customs bond is a simple process. No matter where you purchased your bond, you can check its status via the CBP ACE portal. To do so, use your IRS-issued Employer Identification Number (EIN) to query the portal for your information. Go to the "bond" subject area and choose the REV-001 option for bond details. This report is available for importers, sureties, and CBP itself. From there, you can easily verify and monitor the bond's status.
    USA Customs Clearance
    315 NE 14th St #4122
    Ocala, FL 34470
    (855) 912-0406
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