Saturday, July 5, 2014

How to fill out FCC form 740 and FDA form 2877 for warranty repairs in the USA

I recently had to return an older DVD player to the USA for repairs.

Yes, call me silly, but I bought a new player and it had some quirks I did not like.  My OPPO Digital DV-981HD had always been flawless until a power outage caused it to give up the ghost, and OPPO offers a $49 flat-rate repair service - if you can get the player to them.

Note (partly for readers, partly for search engines):  This post details some of the process of shipping electronics from Canada to the United States for repair or warranty repair purposes, then returning the items back to the owner in Canada.  I expect the process would be similar for those living in other countries, but I can't be sure.  If you are looking for some other information, you may want to move on now.

First problem was brokerage fees.  Oppo had dire warnings regarding these, as any brokerage fees would result in the package being rejected.  Why they don't just call for a credit card number is unknown, but there it is.

To solve this, I attempted to ship via FedEx with a credit card.  Trouble was, FedEx did not allow brokerage and other import fees to be automatically billed without an account.  So then I needed an account, which I set up, but got stymied at the last page because the web form would not accept the information.

If you do need to set up an account with FedEx, call them.  The rep was helpful and had it set up in no time.  Once you wade through a slightly tedious registration exercise, you can print shipment labels and the required commercial invoices online.

Don't forget to SIGN the commercial invoices, by the way.

Now, Oppo's take on the shipping process was a lot different than the FedEx information I was given.  Oppo said I didn't need anything; FedEx said I needed to fill out FCC 740 for radio-frequency equipment, and FDA 2877 for radiation equipment.

I don't know who was right.  I took the high road and did both forms, since my research indicated that DVD players are subject to FCC and FDA radiation limits, and both forms would apply.

(Also, USA people tend to be extremely cavalier about the importation process, in my experience, and I figured there was a good chance that Oppo staff did not know what they were talking about.  Possibly I am wrong in that, but it did not seem worth taking a chance.)

But figuring out the forms is not easy unless you have a background in international shipping - hence this post.  This was the major issue for me.

Eventually, after much searching, I found some example forms courtesy of LibertyCFS NV. These probably would have saved me a lot of time if I had found them at the beginning of the process, and not after some two hours.  (FedEx also has an example form but it is not as helpful.)

Key items to know:

-  You can leave the date of entry, entry number, port of entry and tariff numbers on all forms BLANK.  Which makes sense, since you don't know these items until the item actually enters the USA, but the FCC form in particular insists you need to fill out ALL fields.

-  I was not able to find Oppo's exact address in China.  Indications were that "OPPO Digital, Dongguan, Guangdong, China" would be good enough.
-  The harmonized tariff codes I found for DVD players was 8521.90.9000 (for Canada) and 8521.90.0000 (for the USA).  I used the Canadian code on the FedEx shipment forms and did not need the USA code, since I left that field on the FDA/FCC forms blank.

-  The FDA form linked from the FedEx website was out of date (expired 2013).  As of time of writing, the latest one could be downloaded directly from the FDA website here.  (The latest form uses Adobe form fields, so check if your version does or not.)

-  I was not able to find an FCC ID for the player, so I suspect it does not have one.  (I even searched the FCC ID database, but it was not conclusive.)  I used the "imported for repair" option and left  the FCC ID blank; I recommend you do the same.

-  Same thing for the FDA form, I used option A.4 for items to be re-exported after repair.

I suspect the forms need not be filled out perfectly so long as the customs official can tell what is going on, but you obviously want to get them as close as possible.  This is USA Customs and Border Protection, after all.

Oppo did offer to call FedEx to expedite the package, so possibly there might be some assistance to be had there.  Hopefully I will not need it.

I know a lot of people probably send repair items out all the time without these forms.  A few people include a plea letter to US Customs asking them to pass the shipment without fees since it is a repair.  So, YMMV.

Hope this helps any other poor schmuck who has to deal with this particular situation!

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