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What is a Single Entry Bond?

A single entry bond (SEB) is a type of customs bond that guarantees the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will receive all import duties, taxes, and fees associated with a single shipment of goods entering the United States. This bond is specific to one transaction, meaning it covers only one importation, regardless of the shipment's value or the number of items within it.

Purpose of a Single Entry Bond

The purpose of the SEB is to ensure that the government gets paid for the duties and taxes owed and that all legal requirements are met when the goods enter the country. If the importer fails to pay these fees or violates any import regulations, the bond issuer, typically a surety company, will cover the costs up to the bond's limit, and the importer will then be responsible for reimbursing the surety company.

Why an Importer Would Need a Single Entry Bond

Importers need a single entry bond for several reasons.

  • Legal Requirement: U.S. law mandates that certain imports must be covered by a bond to ensure compliance with customs regulations and to safeguard the government’s financial interests. Without a bond, CBP will not release the imported goods.

  • Cost-Effectiveness for Infrequent Importers: For importers who bring goods into the U.S. only occasionally, a single entry bond can be more cost-effective than a continuous bond. Continuous bonds cover multiple shipments over a year, which might not be financially sensible for those with limited import activities.

  • Assurance of Compliance: SEBs provide a guarantee to CBP that the importer will comply with all applicable laws and regulations, including payment of duties and taxes. This is crucial for maintaining a good standing with customs authorities and avoiding legal complications.

  • Specific Shipment Coverage: An SEB is tailored to cover a specific shipment, making it ideal for one-time or special imports, such as promotional goods, exhibition items, or one-off commercial transactions.

How to Get a Single Entry Bond

Obtaining a single entry bond involves several steps.

  1. Determine Bond Amount: The bond amount typically equals the total value of the goods, plus the duties, taxes, and fees. CBP requires this amount to ensure that all potential liabilities are covered.
  2. Find a Surety Company: Importers need to work with a surety company authorized by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to issue customs bonds. These companies act as guarantors, ensuring that the importer will meet all obligations.
  3. Apply for the Bond: The application process involves providing detailed information about the shipment, including the value of the goods, the type of merchandise, the consignee, and the port of entry. The surety company will assess the importer’s creditworthiness and the risk associated with the shipment.
  4. Payment and Issuance: Once approved, the importer pays the bond premium, which is a percentage of the bond amount. The surety company then issues the bond, which is filed electronically with CBP through the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) system.
  5. Customs Clearance: With the bond in place, the importer can proceed with the customs clearance process. The SEB ensures that if any issues arise, such as non-payment of duties or non-compliance with regulations, the surety company will cover the costs, and the importer will reimburse the surety company subsequently.


A single entry bond is an essential tool for importers who need to guarantee the payment of duties and compliance with U.S. customs regulations for individual shipments. It provides a cost-effective solution for infrequent or one-time import transactions.


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