What is an Importer of Record?

Definition: An importer of record is a person or entity that has the legal responsibility to ensure that any good being imported complies with the legal requirements established by local and federal authorities. In other words, it is a designated individual or company that assumes full accountability for what is being imported.

What Does Importer of Record Mean?

In the U.S., the legal status of the importer of record figure was created through the Customs Modernization Act of 1993 and they are supervised by the Customs and Border Protection. There are also other government institutions that have the authority to audit imported merchandise, as is the case of the Food and Drug Administration, Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The importer of record has the duty to file the required paperwork to identify and value the merchandise properly. Also, the entity must take care of all taxes and duties, ensuring timely payment to all of them. If the importer of record is different than the recipient it must be appointed through a Power of Attorney (POA) granted by the recipient. The actual ownership of the goods are transferred to the importer of record temporarily, until the goods are taken out of customs and delivered to the actual owner.


Fruit Distributors Co. is a company that sells tropical fruits to the U.S. market. They normally import their products from countries like Guatemala, Mexico and Argentina. In order to introduce the goods legally they have appointed First Class Cargo LLC as its importer of record. First Class’ job is to handle all customs’ procedures and payments to help Fruit Distributors get the merchandise as expected.

They were appointed through a Power of Attorney and have been providing this legal assistance service to Fruit Distributors since 2001. Since any fruit that enters the country must comply with sanitary regulations, First Class has the responsibility to ensure the goods were transported properly and that they are still in good shape to be marketed to the public.

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