Customs Broker Information

Departments should consult with Procurement Services prior to placing orders or shipping items outside of the U.S. This would include “free” samples or research materials.

Some research materials, especially live biological specimens, bacteria, viruses or biologically active components like enzymes, may need special government permits to enter the U.S. or other countries. Commercial or industrial materials would be subject to import tariffs based on their value. This would include items sent “free” to ISU for evaluation.

Express carriers like FED EX and UPS will normally employ internal brokers to have items clear U.S. and another country’s customs. If a carrier requests that you sign a form which allows you to approve their customs broker, send the form to Procurement Services for approval. This is important because these forms usually ask the University to sign over its power of attorney to the broker.

Iowa State has retained Scarbrough International, Ltd (formerly the Phil Patterson Corp.) to handle customs clearance on our behalf. The broker fees typically add $100-$200 per clearance, plus any additional shipping required to get the item(s) from the Port of Entry to ISU. Most international freight clears customs in New York City, Minneapolis, or Chicago. To help reduce cost associated with customs clearance, departments should request the items clear U.S. Customs at the Des Moines International Airport, which is an official Port of Entry.

If you have placed orders overseas, a representative of Scarbrough or Procurement Services may contact you requesting additional information about the product. Please respond promptly as the products are held in customs until all inquiries have been addressed. On rare occasions orders for ISU have been held in customs and scheduled for destruction. If you receive a notice from the U.S. Customs Service, please forward to Procurement Services immediately; do not attempt to resolve the issue yourself.

Contact information for Scarbrough International is:

Scarbrough International, Ltd
Attn: Rick Ostendorf - Import Operations
2815 100th Street, Suite 264
Urbandale, IA 503
Direct: 816-652-0650
Fax: 515-287-1394

Procurement Services contacts are: 

-Kelly Freel 515-294-9918 or 

-Melissa Gruhn 515-294-8932 or

-Yi Wu 515-2941857 or