top of page



U.S Customs Exams

 VACIS Exam or X-ray exam

Presently this is the most common exam type especially for ocean freight. A Vehicle And Cargo Inspection    System (VACIS)  exam is simply an x-ray exam, where CBP x-rays the entire shipment or container. This exam is generally done at first port of entry and is not tied into the customs entry.  


A full exam of all cargo, CBP will strenuously examine the complete shipment.  

 Partial Exam

A limited exam where CBP will inspect a small percentage of the shipment at random, selecting a few boxes to open and inspect.  

Tailgate exam

For full container ocean shipments only, similar to a partial exam CBP will just open the container and check contents.  

Team Exam

CBP has several teams that focus on particular aspects of importing, such as the Contraband Enforcement Team (CET) or Manifest Examination Team (MET), these teams can order their own exams on any cargo.  

Other Government Agency exam

Q & A :

Why my shipment?

CBP selects shipments for exam two ways, the first is based on a classified risk factor number assigned to all shipments by the CBP. The actual formula and criteria used to determine this risk factor is not public information and is closely guarded by the CBP for National Security reasons. We know some of these factors include the importer and foreign shipper of cargo and their history with CBP, the country of origin and the commodity. The second reason CBP selects shipments for exam is purely random. Also a first time importer is almost always going to be inspected.

What CBP is looking for?

In today’s environment it’s a common misconception that CBP is only looking for contraband (Drugs, weapons, etc) during these exams. While a great deal of CBP’s effort is searching for these items, it is not the only thing CBP is looking for. When cargo is inspected CBP is also going to confirm that cargo is being classified correctly, and that cargo is also properly marked with country of origin.

Who is responsible for any charges related to the exam?

CBP considers exams to be part of the normal import process and all additional costs incurred when CBP selects cargo for exam are
strictly for the account of the importer. These additional charges may include but are not limited to:
• All trucking/transfer charges from freight location to CES.
• Storage/demurrage/Perdim charges while cargo waits for exam.
• Any charges for sorting or unloading cargo.
• Any waiting time incurred by trucker.

bottom of page