Did you know that 80 percent of delayed shipments can be linked to missing consignee information, poor descriptions or incomplete information? Without the proper know-how, getting goods through Customs quickly can mean stress for business owners. Fortunately, with a little research, expert help and careful planning, getting it doesn’t have to be difficult.

With these top five tips on how to avoid import delays into the United States, small businesses can master the Customs rules and keep their merchandise moving:

1. Provide a detailed description on shipping documents

The description must be detailed and accurate. For example, “computer parts” requires those words AND the brand name, model and serial numbers of the parts. Using terms such as “gift” or “parts” is not sufficient and will cause delays.

2. Provide complete shipper and consignee information

If the name or address is incomplete, the shipment may be delayed while the carrier determines how the shipment should be handled. The carrier needs to report to U.S. Customs and Border Protection who is importing the goods and identify the commodity being imported.

3. Provide the proper quality or value of your goods

Sometimes goods are deliberately undervalued to avoid duties or taxes. This can have legal consequences for the shipper, carrier and importer. Declare the actual fair value of the product to avoid fines or confiscation of your shipment.

4. Submit all the documents that your logistics service provider requests

A lack of client master file data is the main reason for most shipment delays. Shippers often need to provide their carrier with documents such as power of attorney, Customs bond information and importer information in advance of the shipment arriving. (Shipments valued at $2,500 or more need to have this type of information on file.) Once these documents are on file, future shipments may be covered and experience less delays.

5. Know the common mistakes so you don’t make them

Common mistakes when completing paperwork include the invoice not being in English, incorrect product codes and textile samples not prepared properly. These mistakes can lead to delays and even financial consequences.