FAQs - U.S. Customs GO Merchandise Auction


Below are answers to common questions about buying at U.S. Customs & Border Protection Auctions. If you have any other questions, feel free to email us at goauctions@cwsams.com or by phone at 571-921-9107.

Common Questions Can anyone attend the auction?
Yes, all auctions are free and open to the public.

How do I register for the auction?
For live auctions, you must fill out a bidder registration form and present it with a Government issued photo ID. You will then receive a bidder number and sale catalog and be able to participate in the auction. For online auctions, you must submit a bid deposit form and the appropriate sale deposit prior to the sale date in order to be allowed access to the auction.

Can I see the merchandise before bidding on it?
Public previews are established on specific dates and times prior to the sale date to allow prospective buyers to preview/inspect the merchandise being offered in a given sale. Absolutely no access to merchandise is allowed without prior CWS approval. Bidders are urged to view or inspect merchandise prior to bidding. Failure to view or inspect merchandise shall not constitute cause for cancellation of sale. Buyers should also inspect merchandise prior to receiving items after purchase. Buyers are responsible to ascertain the accuracy of what they are acknowledging receipt of prior to removal.

Why should I inspect the merchandise before bidding on it?
These previews are for the buyers' benefit. CWS provides brief descriptions of the merchandise offered for sale. This description is to inform buyers of items available for sale and to give bidders enough information to determine if they are interested in inspecting the merchandise. Bidders are cautioned that all weights, measurements, descriptions and export status listed must be considered approximations and do not create any warranty that the merchandise actually conforms to such descriptions. Again, failure to view or inspect merchandise shall not constitute cause for cancellation of sale. CWS may, at its discretion, provide photographs or slides as a courtesy to bidders. Bidders are cautioned against bidding on items based solely on a photograph.

What is the condition of the merchandise?
The merchandise offered for sale varies from new to salvage. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and CWS make no warranties or guarantees, written, expressed, or implied as to quality, quantity, condition, usability, salability, weight, measure, year, make, model, mechanical condition, performance, or their specifications.

What is "export only" merchandise?
Merchandise sold for "export only" cannot be entered into the commerce of the United States. Without exception, "export only" merchandise must exit the country and cannot be registered, used, or sold again in the United States. Buyers unfamiliar with the export process are cautioned against bidding on "export only" merchandise until they have familiarized themselves with the export process.

How do I go about exporting merchandise?
Buyers are strongly encouraged to investigate export options prior to purchasing "export only" merchandise. It is recommended that purchasers engage the services of a broker or Customs bonded carrier if they are unfamiliar with export requirements. CWS cannot and does not provide any assistance whatsoever. All purchasers are responsible for complying with all applicable Federal licensing and permit regulations prior to exportation. CWS does not warrant the availability of such licensor permits, nor provide a list of the requirements that must be met. The failure of the purchaser to obtain necessary licensing will not result in the return of any monies tendered for the goods.

Detailed export information can be found on the CBP website at: www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/trade/basic_trade/. Broker information may also be found at: www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/toolbox/contacts/ports. Click on the state and the appropriate Port. After the Port location and contact information, you may find a link for "Broker List" if one is available for that port. All forms required for exportation may be obtained at a nominal cost from the local CBP office.

How long do I have to make final payment for auction purchases?
Auction purchases of $5,000 or less require payment in full on the day of sale. For live auctions, once purchases reach $5,000, an immediate deposit of $5,000 is required. Purchases of more than $5,000 require a $5,000 deposit on day of sale with final payment by close of business the next business day. For online auctions, your $2,500 deposit is applied to your purchases as an initial deposit with any remaining balance up to $5,000 due in full on date of sale. Final payment due by close of business the next business day. If purchases are less than $2,500, only your purchase amount is applied and any change returned via method of deposit payment. There are no extensions for final payment.

Is there a buyer's premium or other additional charges?
There is no buyer's premium charged on auction purchases. What you bid is what you pay. Storage vendors may charge for removal services beyond moving your purchases to the loading dock. Buyers are encouraged to contact the storage vendor to inquire as to these fees prior to removing their purchases.

What forms of payment do you accept?
For live auctions, we accept cash, cashier's checks (payable to CWS Marketing Group Inc), money orders (payable to CWS Marketing Group Inc.) and the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Debit cards are not accepted. Personal or business checks, certified checks, bank letters, or letters of credit are not accepted. For online auctions, we accept cashier's checks (payable to CWS Marketing Group Inc) money orders (payable to CWS Marketing Group Inc.) and the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard and Discover. Debit cards are not accepted. Personal or business checks, certified checks, bank letters, or letters of credit are not accepted. Bank wire may be used for final payment and online auction deposits only.

How long do I have to remove my purchases?
Domestic General Order (GO) merchandise must be removed within 15 calendar days of the sale. Export Only General Order (GO) merchandise (other than vehicles) must be removed within 30 calendar days of the sale. Export only General Order (GO) vehicles must be removed within 45 calendar days of sale.

Can merchandise be removed on the same day as the auction?
Yes, once payment in full is received, release paperwork has been generated and presented to the buyer, and if the storage vendor is able to accommodate merchandise release at that time. Removal is by appointment only. CWS does not ship any items, nor does it provide any assistance in affecting removal of purchases from storage vendors. It is the sole responsibility of the buyer to remove the merchandise purchased by the removal date. Removal is at the expense, liability, and risk of the buyer.

Can I send someone to pick up my merchandise for me?
Yes, you can. If you opt to send a third party to pick up your purchases, you must prepare and sign a notarized authorization letter identifying the agent on your behalf. The letter must also include a copy of your driver's license or passport. The agent must present photo identification to validate your option to initiation of any action. In addition, they must present an original or copy of your fully paid invoice and merchandise release documents in order for the warehouse to release your purchases.

When and how can I find out bid results?
Bid results are typically posted online two weeks after the sale. Go here to view bid results.

Do your homework prior to the auction
Most questions can be answered by reading the Sale of Government General Order Merchandise General Sale Terms and Conditions. It is highly recommended that prospective buyers familiarize themselves with these Terms and Conditions of Sale prior to bidding on any merchandise. image