General Rate Increase The Ultimate FAQ Guide 2

General Order: The Ultimate FAQ Guide

Today, I will discuss everything you need to know about general order.

So, if you have any question about this freight term, you will find the answer right here.

Keep reading to learn more.

What Is General Order In International Shipping?

General order warehouse

General order warehouse

General order, often abbreviated as GO, is a status that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) assigns to imported goods.

When the goods lack proper documentation or cannot be cleared by the CBP for other reasons, they are retained under general order.

If goods are not cleared within 15 days, customs hold them under GO, and they are moved to a general order warehouse.

What Are The Top Reasons Why Goods Are Placed Under General Order?

Some of the top reasons why goods are placed under general order include:

  • Goods may be held under general order if the necessary fees, taxes, and duties have not been settled.
  • If the importer fails to provide or fill in correctly the documents required by customs, goods are held under GO.
  • If the shipment is not correctly or legitimately invoiced, they are flagged.
  • Incomplete commercial invoice- for customs to consider a commercial invoice, it should include details like description of goods, details of the buyer, seller, and shipper, quantity of the goods, weight of the goods, and the goods’ value classification of the goods, among others.
  • Missing or incorrectly stated country of origin- the country of origin is where the commodity is produced or manufactured. If an importer incorrectly lists the C/O, then customs may hold the goods under general order.
  • Inaccurate HS Code (Harmonized Commodity Description and coding system) or ECCN numbers may result in goods being held by CBP.
    When these numbers are wrong, it makes the rest of the documentation uneven. Therefore, Customs has to hold the goods under general order until corrections are made.
  • Goods may be held under general order if customs do not approve their valuation. Customs must make sure your goods are according to the customs value.
    If not, they are held as customs try and find out the shipment’s actual value. Custom value assists in determining the total amount of import duty and other taxes that require payment.
  • The consignee of the goods denies being registered as the importer. This can come about if the consignee does not understand the import process or doesn’t want to be involved. If this happens, customs hold the goods under general order.
  • If the goods lack the HTS classification- customs require that the HTS classification is listed on every item on the commercial invoice following the Codes of Federation Regulation. Failure to which customs may hold your goods under general order.
  • A participating government agency may request the CBP hold goods for them as they inspect and examine them. Sometimes PGAs randomly select goods for these routine checks.
  • Goods can be put in general order as they await a contraband enforcement team (CET) test. This is common for goods with particular regulations and restrictions.

How Do I Know If There Is A General Order On My Shipment?

Usually, customs will alert the importer or their customs broker electronically.

The CBP might move on with examining the shipment or ask for the importer to provide more or accurate information.

Customs will then release your goods if you provide what they require. If they are not content, they continue holding the cargo under general order until everything is set for clearance.

What Customs Clearance Documents Do I Need For International Shipments?

Import documents that you may need include the following:

Bill Of Entry

This is a document that a customs clearance agent or an importer files before the goods arrive at the destination port.

Packing List

A packing list contains detailed information about the goods in the shipment.

This information includes; packing details, the quantity of goods in the consignment, dimensions, weight, handling instructions, etc.

Bill Of Lading (BOL)

A BOL is a document that a carrier issues to a shipper. Its purpose is to highlight the journey of shipment from the country of origin to the destination.

Commercial Invoice

This is one of the primary documents that you require for international shipments. It is a legal document that binds the supplier of the goods and the customer.

It provides a clear description of the goods and states how much the customer owes.

Customs use a commercial invoice to decide on the customs duties and other taxes.

Pro Forma Invoice

This document provides the commitment of a seller to supply the said goods on the date and time set down.

Country Of Origin Certificate

A certificate of origin provides information on where the goods were produced, manufactured, or grown.

Insurance Certificate

Importers provide this legal document as proof that the shipment has been insured against damages throughout transit.

Customs use the information in this document for shipment valuation and determine the duties payable.

Import License

The government issues this license to grant permission for the importation of goods into the country.

Health Certificate

A health certificate only applies to food-related shipments. It certifies that the product is safe for human consumption and it meets the necessary set standards.

A consignment is issued with a health certificate having gone through the required inspections and exams.

How Long Does It Take To Clear Cargo Through Customs?

Time taken to clear cargo through customs differs for sea freight and air freight. Ocean shipments may take between 5 days to clear before landing and cargo recovery from the port.

For air shipment, customs will clear goods between the time the plane takes off and the time of cargo recovery at the airport.

It is typical for goods arriving by plane to be cleared even before touch down.

What Is A General Order Warehouse?

If customs do not clear goods within 15 days, they are moved to a general order warehouse. This is a bonded facility that holds goods classified as general order.

General order warehouses can store goods for up to 6 months. At this time, the consignee may file a warehouse entry with the relevant customs and pay all the outstanding duties.

Failure to do this, customs repossess the goods and might auction them or even destroy them.

Is General Order Warehouse Any Different From Container Freight Station (CFS)?

Container freight statation

Container freight station

There are distinct differences between a general order warehouse and a container freight station.

A GO warehouse is used to store and hold goods that have exceeded the fifteen days’ time limit for clearance.

On the other hand, a CFS is a temporary storage facility where shipments are stored before export/import.

A GO warehouse can hold goods for up to six months, while a container freight station stores cargo for way shorter periods.

As said, the latter is just a temporary storage space/facility.

How Long Will Customs Hold My Cargo In General Order?

Customs will hold goods under general order for not more than six months.

During that period, you are still in a position to clear your cargo. You can hire a professional to help you with the customs clearance process.

However, there may be consequences if the six months go by and your cargo is still in the general order warehouses. In this case, the government will seize it or auction it to offset the accumulated expenses and liens.

What Is A General Order (GO) Date In Shipping?

The GO date is the date that customs give the consignee before putting their shipment under General Order. A GO date acts as a deadline for the goods to be cleared, failure to which they are declared as general order.

What Are The Different Types Of Customs Hold In US Import Procedures?

Customs hold

Customs hold

The different types of customs hold include the following:

  • Manifest hold– get ready for a manifest hold if the information or the data you provide is inaccurate. Also, if you do not forward your Import Security Filing (ISF), you are likely to encounter this type of hold.
  • Commercial enforcement hold– the CBP puts this type of hold on goods for any issues that are likely to arise. During this hold, the hired agency reviews the paperwork and inspects the goods.
  • Statistical validation hold– customs hold selected shipments for verification of declared versus actual statistical data. The CBP must ensure that they validate the statistical data of a shipment before allowing its clearance.
  • CET Exam hold– customs may hold goods as a Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) exam. CET is also known as A-TCET (Anti-Terrorism Contraband Enforcement Team)
  • PGA Hold– one of the participating government agencies (PGA) can request CBP to hold goods for them as they review and examine them.

What Is The Meaning Of 1S In Relation To Customs Holds?

1S is a disposition code in the Customs and Border Protection’s Automated Manifest Interface titled, ‘Ordered to General Order.’

It specifies the time of lay order, according to which the status of the goods is decided, is over with the goods still uncleared.

When customs generate a 1S code, the goods in question will be declared general order and moved to a GO warehouse.

After transferring the goods successfully to the bonded warehouse, their disposition code will change from 1S to 1U.

What Are The Lien Charges In A General Order Situation?

We can define lien charges generally as claims or funds for settlement of a debt or payment for services provided.

Some of the lien charges in a general order situation are as follows:

  • Arrival warehouse charges- you will have to clear all the fees incurred at the arrival warehouse to allow goods transfer to the general order warehouse
  • Freight charges
  • GO warehouse charges; this includes administrative charges, storage, and handling of the cargo.
  • Moving charges by the GO trucking company. (for moving the cargo from the arrival warehouse to the general order warehouse.)
  • Work done on behalf of the cargo by the customs broker or freight forwarder.

Do I Need To Pay Storage Fees For Cargo In General Order Warehouse?

General Order warehouses charge by the month. For instance, even when your cargo stays there for five days, you will still pay the monthly charge.

The longer goods stay in a general order warehouse, the more you will pay.

On top of the storage fees, you will need to pay for services like maintaining and cleaning the cargo. You will also need to pay for any other expenses incurred for the period goods are in the GO warehouse.

Who Pays For General Order Cargo Transportation?

Cargo transportation

Cargo transportation

As the cargo owner, you are responsible for paying the transportation costs of the goods to and from the GO warehouse.

What Happens To Unclaimed GO Cargo

Depending on several factors, customs can decide to take the following actions on unclaimed GO cargo:


If the cargo is still unclaimed after six months, it is taken to an auction location by customs. They follow through with the standard auction procedure, where the highest bidder gets the commodities.

When one buys goods from the auction, they are responsible for clearing the goods through customs at their own cost.

This includes payment of any pending taxes, fees, or customs duties.

Customs use the proceeds of the sale to settle the pending expenses and liens.


Customs destroy unclaimed goods that are perishable or HAZMATs. Perishable goods, for instance, fresh flowers, fresh farm produce animal products like meat and dairy.

Examples of HAZMAT goods are explosives, radioactive items, flammable goods like perfumes, alcohol, etc.

Customs also destroy goods of low value instead of taking them to the general order warehouse.

Donated To Charity

Though it is pretty uncommon, unclaimed cargo is sometimes given out for free to charitable courses.


In some cases, the government confiscates the abandoned cargo and repossesses it.

When this happens, the goods become government property and can be used as the government wishes.

How Do I Clear General Order Cargo Entry?

Clearing your general order cargo entry will need you to follow the following simple steps:

  • First, you will need to file the General Order entry. After which, a general order warehouse operative or a CBP officer will provide you with a general order number.
  • You will have to enter the general order number in both the manifest and general order tabs. Ensure that you check out the NON-AMS file, as your bill shall not be presented electronically.
  • Take away the AMS bill and put the general order number as the master bill of lading number.
  • Finally, forward the entry via ABI.

What Are Some Tips To Avoid Cargo From Entering The General Order Status?

Some of the tips to avoid cargo from entering the general order status include:

  • Make sure your customs broker is aware of the incoming shipment and what it contains. Custom brokers do not always know everything about shipping.
    Therefore, you should alert them before having enough time to find out details about each item being imported.
    They need to find out the duty rates; HS tariff classification, restrictions/ special regulations, etc.
  • See to it that your customs broker has all the essential documents and data needed for declaration.
    Customs cannot clear your shipment if the customs broker does not have the necessary documents and the data in them is inaccurate. To avoid this, it is better to make sure that your customs broker has everything beforehand.
  • Ensure that you are aware of all your incoming shipments. Better yet, ensure that our suppliers/vendors notify you of any incoming shipments. If you get an unexpected shipment, it is almost impossible to get customs to clear them in good time.
  • Make sure that you value your shipment correctly. Customs have to cross-check that the contents of your shipment are accurate of the value that you have stated.
  • Ensure that your cargo’s invoice is legal and all the information provided is accurate.
  • Confirm that the consignee is well conversant with their roles and duties. And that they are willing to be listed as the importer.

What Should I Do Is My Goods Are Held In Customs?

It would help if you tried to resolve the situation by first finding out why your goods are being held.

Then, contact your customers to alert them of possible delays. This helps maintain your good reputation and minimizes assumptions and disappointments.

Also, you can try to contact the carrier as most of them have connections that might help hasten the release of the goods. Make sure you verify the status of the shipment before you take any further action.

As you all this, be prepared to provide all the documents and information that CBP may need to verify your shipment. Make sure all the shipment information and documentation are correct and up to date.

Ensure that you clear all the pending payments, taxes, and liens.

If you cannot settle the issue by yourself, then it is time to hire professional assistance. There are many companies or individuals experienced and specialize in these kinds of customs clearance issues.

Select your most preferred company or agent and start the customs clearance process.

In other cases, especially in consolidated shipments, you will have to wait.

Consolidated shipping involves combining many shippers’ goods into one shipment. So your goods may be held due to a fault in another shipper’s goods.

Unfortunately, you can’t clear only your goods. Clearance has to be done for the whole shipment. Meaning, you have to wait until the responsible shipper sorts out their issues with customs.

Can A Customs Broker Help Sort General Order Issues?

A customs broker is a third party that offers professional services to help clear goods faster and more efficiently.

So yes, you can hire a capable customs broker to sort out goods held under general order. The broker can liaise with the players involved in ensuring all documentation is available and correct. They will also see to it that all taxes, duties, and fines are paid.

For any question or inquiry about any freight term, BanSar is here to help.

Contact us now for all your freight forwarding needs from China.

Update cookies preferences