|BASIC IMPORTING INSTRUCTIONS|
When a shipment reaches the United States, the importer of record (i.e., the owner, purchaser, or licensed customs broker designated by the owner, purchaser, or consignee) will file entry documents for the goods with the district or port director at the port of entry, delivery of the merchandise has been authorized by Customs and estimated duties have been paid. It is the responsibility of the importer of record to arrange for examination and release of the goods.
1. THE ENTRY PROCESS Back To Top
ENTRY OF MERCHANDISE
Prior to importing and entering merchandise into the commerce of the United States, it is necessary to make an appointment with a Customs official. In general, the most important information from U.S. Customs regarding the importation of the product can be obtained by asking the following questions:
Entry is required regardless of value and falls under two categories:
Once the goods arrive in the United States, it is the responsibility of the importer to make entry. However, the importer may designate an authorized Customhouse broker to act as his agent by giving the Customs broker a power of attorney.
Note: In addition to the U.S. Customs Service, Importers should contact other agencies when questions regarding particular commodities arise. For example, questions about products regulated by the Food and Drug Administration should be forwarded to the nearest FDA district office or to the Import Division, FDA Headquarters, (301) 443-6553. The same is true for alcohol, tobacco, firearms, wildlife products (furs, skins, shells), motor vehicles, and other products and merchandise regulated by the 60 federal agencies for which Customs enforces entry laws.
Goods may be entered for consumption, entered for warehouse at the port of arrival, or they may be transported in-bond to another port of entry and entered there under the same conditions as at the port of arrival. Arrangements for transporting the merchandise to an interior port in-bond may be made by the consignee, by a customs broker, or by any other person having a sufficient interest in the goods for that purpose. Unless your merchandise arrives directly at the port where you wish to enter it, you may be charged additional fees by the carriers for transportation to that port if other arrangements have not been made. Under some circumstances, your goods may be released through your local Customs port even though they arrive at another port from a foreign country. Arrangements must be made prior to arrival at the Customs port where you intend to file your duties and documentation.
Goods to be placed in a foreign trade zone are not entered at the customhouse.
EVIDENCE OF RIGHT TO MAKE ENTRY
Goods may be entered only by the owner, purchaser, or by a licensed customs broker. When the goods are consigned "to order," the bill of lading, properly endorsed by the consignee, may serve as evidence of the right to make entry. An air waybill may be used for merchandise arriving arriving by air.
In most instances, entry is made by a person or firm certified by the carrier bringing the goods to the port of entry and is considered the "owner" of the goods for customs purposes. the document issued by the carrier is known as a "Carrier's Certificate." In certain circumstances, entry may be made by means or a duplicate bill of lading or a shipping receipt.
ENTRY FOR CONSUMPTION
The entry of merchandise is a two part process consisting of (1) filing the documents necessary to determine whether merchandise may be released from Customs custody and (2) filing the documents which contain information for duty assessment and statistical purposes. Both of these processes can by accomplished electronically via the Automated Broker Interface program of the Automated Commercial Systems.
Within five working days of the date of arrival of a shipment at a U.S. port of entry, entry documents must be filed at a location specified by the district/area director, unless an extension is granted. These documents consist of:
The entry must be accompanied by evidence that bond is posted with Customs to cover any potential duties, taxes, and penalties which may accrue. Bonds may be secured through a resident U.S. surety company but may be posted in the form of United States money or certain United States government obligations. In the event that a customs broker is employed for the purpose of making entry, the broker may permit the use of his bond to provide the required coverage.
ENTRY SUMMARY DOCUMENTATION
Following presentation of the entry, the shipment may be waived. The shipment is then released, provided no legal or regulatory violations have occurred. Entry summary documentation is filed and estimated duties are deposited within 10 working days of the release of the merchandise at a designated customhouse. Entry summary documentation consists of:
An alternate procedure which provides for immediate release of a shipment may be used in some cases by making application for a Special Permit for Immediate Delivery on Customs Form 3461 prior to the arrival of the merchandise. Carriers participating in the Automated Manifest System can receive conditional release authorizations, after leaving the foreign country, and up to five days before landing in the United States. If the application is approved, the shipment is released expeditiously following arrival. An entry summary must then be filed in proper form, either on paper or electronically, and estimated duties deposited within 10 working days of release. Release using Form 3461 is limited to the following merchandise:
If it is desired to postpone the release of the goods, they may be placed in a Customs bonded warehouse under a warehouse entry. The goods may remain in the bonded warehouse up to five years from the date of importation. At any time during that period, warehoused goods may be reexported without the payment of duty or they may be withdrawn for consumption upon the payment of duty at the rate of duty in effect on the date of withdrawal. If the goods are destroyed under Customs supervision, no duty is payable.
While the goods are in the bonded warehouse, they may, under Customs supervision, be manipulated by cleaning, sorting, repacking, or otherwise changing their condition by processes which do not amount to manufacturing. After manipulation and within the warehousing period, the goods may be exported without the payment of duty or they may be withdrawn for consumption upon payment of duty at the rate applicable to the goods in their manipulated condition at the time of withdrawal. Perishable goods, explosive substances, or prohibited importations may not be placed in a bonded warehouse. Certain restricted articles, though not allowed release from custody, may be warehoused.
Information regarding bonded manufacturing warehouses is contained in section 311 of the Tariff Act. (19 U.S.C. 1311).
If there is a failure to file an entry for the goods at the port or port of destination for in-bond shipments within five working days after arrival, the district or port director may place them in a general order warehouse at the risk and expense of the importer. If the goods are not entered within one year from the date of importation, they can be sold at public auction. Perishable goods, goods liable to depreciation, and explosive substances, however, may be sold sooner.
Storage charges, expenses of sales, internal revenue taxes, duties and amounts for the satisfaction of liens must be taken out of the money obtained from the sale of the unentered goods. Any surplus remaining after these deductions is ordinarily payable to the holder of a duly endorsed bill of lading covering the goods. If the goods are subject to internal revenue taxes and will not bring enough on sale at public auction to pay the taxes, they are subject to destruction.
Importers have found that in some cases it is to their advantage to use the mails to import merchandise into the United States. Some benefits to be gained are:
Each mail article containing an invoice or statement cannot conveniently be enclosed within the sealed article, it may be securely attached to the article. Failure to comply with any of these requirements will delay clearance of the shipment through Customs.
Packages other than parcel post, such as letter-class, commercial papers, printed matter, and samples of merchandise, must bear on the address side a label, Form C1, provided by the Universal Post Union, or the endorsement "May be opened for customs purpose before delivery" or similar words definitely waiving the privacy of the seal and indicating that Customs officers may open the parcel without recourse to the addressee. Parcels not labeled or endorsed in this manner and found to contain prohibited merchandise subject to duty or tax are subject to forfeiture.
A Customs officer prepares the customs entry for mail importations not exceeding $2000 in value, and the letter carrier at the destination delivers the parcel to the addressee upon payment of the duty. If the value of a mail importation exceeds $2000, the addressee is notified to prepare and file a formal Customs entry (consumption entry) at the Customs port nearest to him. A commercial invoice is required with the entry.
A Customs processing fee of $5.00 will be assessed on each item of dutiable mail for which a Customs officer prepares documentation. This nominal charge on all dutiable or taxable mail, in addition to the duty, is collected from the addressee. There is also a postal fee (in addition to prepaid postage) authorized by international postal conventions and agreements as partial reimbursement to the Postal Service for its work in clearing packages through Customs delivering them.
NOTE: The following general exceptions apply to the $2000 limit:
Articles classified in sub-chapters III and IV, chapter 99, HTSUS: Billfolds and other flat goods; Feather and feather products; Flowers and foliage, artificial or preserved; Footwear; Fur, articles of Gloves, Handbags, Headgear and hat braids; Leather, articles of Luggage; Milinary ornaments; Pillows and cushions; Plastics, miscellaneous articles of Rawhides and skins; Rubber, miscellaneous articles of Textile fibers and products; Toys, games, and sports equipment; Trimmings
The limit for these articles is set at $250. However, almost all commercial shipments of textile fibers and products require formal entry regardless of value. Unaccompanied shipments of made-to-measure suits from Hong Kong require a formal entry regardless of value. Here is a selected listing of some of the more important US Customs Service forms used in importing goods into the United States:
2. CHECK LIST FOR FAST CLEARANCE Back To Top
The following is a list of suggestions of ways importers and their suppliers can work together to speed up the clearance of shipments.
__ Include all information required on customs invoices
__ Prepare your invoices carefully, allowing adequate space for data. They must be clear and accurate in all respects!
__ Invoices should contain the information normally shown on an accurate packing list.
__ Mark and number each package to correspond with marks and numbers appearing on your invoice.
__ Give a detailed description on the invoice of each item in each individual package.
__ Clearly mark the goods with the name of the country of origin, unless they are specifically exempted, and with other markings as required by U.S. law.
__ Comply with special provisions in U.S. law that apply to your merchandise; food, drugs, animal life.
__ Ask U.S. Customs for help in developing packing standards for your merchandise.
__ Assure the security of your goods at all times (Do not allow your goods to become a hiding place for drugs or other illegal contraband)
__ Consider using a carrier who uses the Automated Manifest System and a customs broker who participates in ABI (Automated Broker Interface)
3. RIGHT TO MAKE ENTRY Back To Top
ENTRY BY IMPORTER
Merchandise arriving in the United States by commercial carrier must be entered by the owner, purchaser, his authorized regular employee, or by the licensed Customs broker designated by the owner, purchaser, or consignee. U.S. Customs officers and employees are not authorized to act as agents for importers or forwarders of imported merchandise, although they may give all reasonable advise and assistance to inexperienced importers.
The only persons who are authorized by the tariff laws of the United States to act as agents for importers in the transaction of their Customs business are Customs brokers who are private individuals or firms licensed by the Customs Service. Customs brokers will prepare and file the necessary Customs entries, arrange for the payment of the duties found due, take steps to effect the release of the goods in Customs entries, and otherwise represent their principals in customs matters. The fees charged for these services may vary according to the Customs broker and the extent of services performed.
Every entry must be supported by one of the forms of evidence of the right to make entry. When entry is made by a Customs broker, a Customs power of attorney given by the person or firm for whom the Customs broker is acting as agent is made in the name of the Customs broker. Ordinarily, the authority of an employee to make entry for his employer is most satisfactorily established by a Customs power of attorney.
ENTRIES MADE BY OTHERS
Entry of goods may be made by a nonresident individual or partnership, or a foreign corporation through an agent or representative of the exporter in the United States, a member of the partnership, or an officer of the corporation.
The surety on any Customs bond required from a nonresident individual or organization must be incorporated in the United States. In addition, a foreign corporation in whose name merchandise is entered must have a resident agent authorized to accept service of process in its behalf in the state where the port of entry is located.
A licensed Customs broker named in a Customs power of attorney may make entry on behalf of the exporter or his representative. The owner's declaration made by a nonresident individual or organization which the Customs broker may request must be supported by a surety bond providing for the payment of an increased or additional duties found due. An owner's declaration executed in a foreign country is acceptable, but it must be executed before a notary public and bear the notary's seal. Notaries public will be found in all American embassies around the world and in most of the larger consulates.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
A nonresident individual, partnership, or foreign corporation may issue a power of attorney to a regular employee, Customs broker, partner, or corporation officer to act for the nonresident employer in the United States. Any person named in a power of attorney must be a resident of the United States who has been authorized to accept service of process on behalf of the person or organization issuing the power of attorney. The power of attorney to accept service of process becomes irrevocable with respect to Customs transactions duly undertaken. Either the applicable Customs form or a document using the same language as the form is acceptable. References to those acts which the issuer has not authorized his agent to perform may be deleted from the form or omitted from the document.
A power of attorney from a foreign corporation must be supported by the following documents or their equivalent when foreign law or practice differs from that in the United States:
A power of attorney issued by a partnership must be limited to a period not to exceed two years from the date of execution and shall state the names of all members of the partnership. One member of a partnership may execute a power of attorney for the transaction of the customs business of the partnership. When a new firm is formed by a change of membership, the power of attorney of the prior firm is no longer effective for any customs purpose. The new firm will be required to issue a power of attorney for the transaction of its custom business. All other powers of attorney may be granted for an unlimited period.
Customs Form 5291 or a document using the same language as the form is also used to empower an agent other than an attorney-at-law or Customs broker to file protests on behalf of an importer under section 514 of the Tariff Act of 1930 as amended.
4. PACKAGING OF GOODS-COMMINGLING Back To Top
Information on how to pack goods for the purposes of transporting may be obtained from shipping manuals, carriers, forwarding agents, and other sources. This information deals with packing goods being exported in a way which will permit U.S. Customs officers to examine, weigh, measure, and release the goods promptly.
Orderly packing and proper invoicing go hand in hand. You will speed up the clearance of your goods through Customs, if you:
Pack and invoice your goods in a manner which makes a speedy examination possible. Always bear in mind that it may not be possible to ascertain the contents of your packages without full examination unless your invoice clearly shows the marks and numbers on each package (whether box, case, or bale) and specifies the exact quantity of each item of adequately described goods in each marked and numbered package.
Also, be aware that Customs examines cargo for narcotics that may be hidden in cargo, unbeknownst to the shipper or the importer. This can be time-consuming and expensive for both the importer and the Customs Service. Narcotics inspections may require completely stripping a container in order to physically examine a large portion of the cargo. This labor intensive handling of cargo, whether by Customs, labor organizations, or private individuals, results in added, increased delays, and possible damage to the product. Importers can expedite this inspection process by working with Customs to develop packing standards that will permit effective Customs examinations with a minimum of delay, damage, and cost.
A critical aspect in facilitating inspections is how the cargo is loaded. "Palletizing" cargo - loading it onto pallets or other consolidated units - is an effective way to expedite such examinations. Palletization allows for quick cargo removal, in minutes using a forklift, compared to the hours it takes manually. Another example is leaving enough space at the top of a container and an aisle down the center to allow access by a narcotics detector dog.
Cooperating in these efforts will help Customs officers to decide which packages must be opened and examined; how much weighing, counting, or measuring must be done and whether the goods are properly marked. It will simplify the ascertainment of tare and and reduce the number of samples to be taken for laboratory analysis or for other customs purpose. It will facilitate the verification of the contents of the packages as well as the reporting by Customs officers of missing or excess goods. And it will minimize the possibility that the importer may be asked to redeliver for examination packages which were released to him on the theory that the packages designated for examination were sufficient for that purpose.
It is clear that packing which, in fact, amounts to a confusion of different kinds of goods makes it impractical for Customs officers to determine the quantity of each kind of product in an importation and leads to various complication. No problem arises from the orderly packing of several kinds of properly invoiced goods in one package - it is indiscriminate packing which causes difficulty.
Except as mentioned hereafter, whenever articles subject to different rates of duty are so packed together or mingled such that the quantity or value of each class of articles cannot be readily ascertained by Customs officers (without physical segregation of the shipment or the contents of any package thereof) the commingled articles shall be subject to the highest rate of duty applicable to any part of the commingled lot, unless the consignee or his agent segregates under Customs supervision.
The three methods of ready ascertainment specified by General Note 5, HTSUS, are (1) sampling, (2) verification of packing lists or other documents filed at the time of entry, or (3) evidence showing performance of commercial settlements tests generally accepted in the trade and filed in the time and manner as prescribed in the Customs Regulations.
The segregation is at the risk and expense of the consignee. It must be done within 30 days (unless a longer time is granted) after the date of personal delivery or the date of mailing of a notice to the consignee by the district or port director of Customs that the goods are commingled. The compensation and expenses of the Customs officers supervising the segregation must be paid for by the consignee.
Assessment of duty on the commingled lot at the highest applicable rate does not apply to any part of a shipment if the consignee or his agent furnishes satisfactory proof that (1) such part is commercially negligible, is not capable of segregation without excessive cost, and will not be segregated prior to its use in a manufacturing process or otherwise, and (2) the commingling was not intended to avoid the payment of lawful duties.
Any article for which such proof is furnished shall be considered for all Customs purposes as a part of the article, subject to the next lower rate of duty, with which it is commingled.
In addition, the highest rate rule mentioned does not apply to any part of a shipment if there is furnished satisfactory proof that (1) the value of the commingled articles is less than the aggregate value would be if the shipment were segregated, (2) the shipment is not capable of segregation without excessive cost and will not be segregated prior to its use in a manufacturing process or otherwise, and (3) the commingling was not intended to avoid the payment of lawful duties.
Any merchandise for which such proof is furnished shall be considered for all Customs purposes to be dutiable at the rate applicable to the material present in greater quantity than any other material.
The above rules do not apply if the tariff schedules provide particular tariff treatment for commingled articles.
5. MARKING Back To Top
MARKING: COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
United States Customs laws require that each imported article that is produced abroad needs to be marked in a visible place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article permits, with the English name of the country of origin, so that the ultimate purchaser in the United States knows the name of the country in which the article was manufactured or produced. There is an exception to the rule for articles that are specifically exempted from individual marking. The exceptions are stated below.
If the article (or the container when the container and not the article must be marked) is not properly marked during importation, a marking duty equal to 10 percent of the customs value of the article will be tacked on the article unless the article is exported, destroyed, or properly marked under Customs supervision before the liquidation of the entry concerned.
It not feasible to state who will be the "ultimate purchaser" in every circumstances. An "ultimate purchaser" can be defined as the last person in the United States who will receive the article in the form in which it was imported. In general, if a article that has been imported to the U.S. is going to be used in manufacturing, which will result in an article having a name, character or usage different from that of the imported article, the manufacturer is the ultimate purchaser. If an article is to be sold at retail in its imported form, the purchaser at retail is the ultimate purchaser. A person who subjects an imported article to a process which results in a substantial transformation of the article is the ultimate purchaser, but if the process is merely a minor one which leaves the identity of the imported article intact, the processor of the article will not be regarded as the ultimate purchaser.
When an article (or its container) is required to be marked so it's origin is indicated, the marking is considered sufficiently permanent if it will remain on the article (or its container) until it reaches the ultimate purchaser.
When an article is of a type that is usually combined with another article subsequent to importation but before delivery to an ultimate purchaser, and the name indicating the country of origin of the article appears in a place on the article so that the name will be visible after such combining, the required markings, in addition to the name of the country of origin, words or symbols which clearly show that the origin indicated is that of the imported article only and not that of any other article with which the imported article may be combined after importation. For instance, if marked bottles, drums, or other containers are imported empty, to be filled in the United States, they need to be marked with such words as "Bottle (or drum container) made in (name or country)." Labels and similar articles so marked that the name of the country of origin is visible after it is affixed to another article in this country needs to be marked with additional descriptive words such as "label made (or printed) in (Name of country)" or words of similar import.
In cases were the words "United States" or "American" or the letters "U.S.A." or any variation of such words or letters, or the name of any city or locality in the United States, or the name of any foreign country or locality in which the article was not manufactured or produced, appear on an imported article or container, there needs to appear, legibly and permanently, in close proximity to such words, letters or name, the name of the country of origin preceded by "Made in," "Product of," or other words of similar meaning.
If marked articles are going to be repacked in the United States after release from Customs custody, importers need to certify on entry that they will not obscure the marking on properly marked articles if the article is repacked or if they mark the repacked container. If the importers do not repack, but resell to repackers, importers must notify the repackers of the marking requirements. Failure to follow certification requirements may subject importers to penalties and/or additional duties.
MARKING NOT REQUIRED
There are many articles and classes or kinds of articles that are not required to be marked to indicate the country of their origin. However, the containers in which these articles are in must be marked to indicate the English name of the country of origin of the articles. For further information and a listing of articles that are exempted from markings please contact the United States Customs Service.
In addition, the Secretary of the Treasury has authorized that under the following circumstances articles be excepted from marking to indicate the country of their origin. (The usual container in which these articles are imported in will also be excepted from marking):
The marking requirements for country of origin are separate and apart from any special marking or labeling that is required by other agencies on specific products. It is recommended that the specific agency be contacted for any special requirements in marking and labeling.
Certain articles are subject to special country of origin marking requirements: Iron and steel pipe and pipe fittings, manhole rings, frames, or covers, and compressed gas cylinders, must generally be marked by one of four methods: die-stamped, cast-in-mold lettering, etching (acid or electrolytic) or engraving. In addition, none of the exceptions from marking discussed above are applicable to iron and steel pipe and pipe fittings.
The following articles, and parts belonging to these articles, need to be marked legibly and clearly to indicate their origin by die-stamping, cast-in-the-mold lettering, etching (acid or electrolytic), engraving, or by means of metal plates which bear the prescribed marking and which are securely attached to the article in an easily viewed place by welding, screws, or rivets:
Knives, clippers, shears, safety razors, surgical instruments, scientific and laboratory instruments, pliers, pincers and vacuum containers.
Watch movements are required to be marked on one or more of the bridges or top plates to show (1) the name of the country that manufactured the watch, (2) the name of the manufacturer or purchaser, and (3) in words, the number of jewels, if any, serving a mechanical purpose as frictional bearings.
Clock movements need to be marked on the most visible part of the front or back plate so that the following features are visible: (1) the name of the country of manufacture, (2) the name of the manufacturer or purchaser, and (3) in words, the number of jewels, if any, serving a mechanical purpose as frictional bearings.
Watch cases need to be marked on the inside or outside of the back cover to indicate (1) the name of the country of manufacture, and (2) the name of the manufacturer or purchaser.
Clock cases and other cases provided for in Chapter 91 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule , are required to be marked on the most visible part of the outside of the back to show the name of the country of manufacture.
The terms "watch movement" and "clock movement" refer to devices regulated by a balance wheel and hairspring, quartz crystal, or any other system capable of determining intervals of time, with a display or system to which a mechanical display can be incorporated. "Watch movements" include those devices which do not exceed 12 mm in thickness and 50 mm in width, length, or diameter, "clock movements" include those devices which do not meet the watch movement dimensional specifications. The term "cases" includes inner and outer cases, containers, and housings for movements, together with parts or pieces, such as, but not limited to, rings, feet, posts, bases, and outer frames, and any auxiliary or incidental features, which (with appropriate movements) serve to complete the watches, clocks, time switches, and other apparatus provided for in Chapter 91 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule .
Articles required to be marked in accordance with the marking requirements in Chapter 91 must be visible and indelibly marked by cutting, die-sinking, engraving, or stamping. Articles required to be marked in this manner will be denied entry unless marked in exact conformity with these requirements.
Movements that only have opto-electronic display and cases designed to be used with this design, whether entered as separate articles or as components of assembled watches or clocks, are not subject to the special marking requirements. These items need only to be marked with the marking requirements of Title 19 of the United States Code 1304.
In addition to the special marking requirements mentioned above, all watches of foreign origin must comply with the usual country of origin marking requirements. The U.S. Customs Service considers the country of origin of watches to be the country of manufacture of the watch movement. The name of this country should appear either on the outside back cover or on the face of the dial.
MARKING - FALSE IMPRESSION
Section 42 of the Trade-Mark Act of 1946 (U.S.C. 1124) provides, among other things, that no imported article of foreign origin which bears a name or mark meant to induce the public to believe that it was manufactured in the United States, or in any foreign country or locality other than the country or locality in which it was actually manufactured, will be admitted to entry at any customs house in the United States.
In many cases, the words "United States" the letters "U.S.A.", or the name of any city or locality in the United States appearing on an imported article of foreign origin, or on the containers belonging to the article, are considered to be calculated to induce the public to believe that the article was manufactured in the United States unless the name to indicate the country of origin appears in close proximity to the name which indicates a domestic origin. Merchandise discovered after conditional release to have been missing a required country of origin marking may be ordered redelivered to Customs custody. If such delivery is not promptly made, liquidated damages may be assessed against the Customs bond.
An imported article bearing a name or mark prohibited by Section 42 of the Trade-Mark Act is subject to seizure and forfeiture. However, upon the filing of a petition by the importer prior to final disposition of the article, the district or port director of Customs may release it upon the condition that the prohibited marking be removed or obliterated or that the article and containers be properly marked; or the district or port director may permit the article to be exported or destroyed under Customs supervision and without expense to the Government.
Section 43 of the Trade-Mark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1125) prohibits the entry of goods marked or labeled with a false designation of origin or with any false description or representation, including words or other symbols tending to falsely describe or represent the same. Deliberate removal, obliteration, covering, or altering of required country of origin markings after release from Customs custody is also a crime punishable by fines and imprisonment (19 U.S.C. 1304(i)).
19 CFR 134.11- Country of origin marking required."Unless excepted by law, section 304, Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1304), requires that every article of foreign origin (or its container) imported into the United States shall be marked in a conspicuous place as legibly, indelibly, and permanently as the nature of the article (or container) will permit, in such manner as to indicate to an ultimate purchaser in the United States the English name of the country of origin of the article, at the time of importation into the Customs territory of the United States. Containers of articles excepted from marking shall be marked with the name of the country of origin of the article unless the container is also excepted from marking."
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the purpose of the country or origin marking requirement? The purpose is to insure that the ultimate purchaser of imported goods knows where those goods were made.
Who is an "ultimate purchaser"? It is not always obvious. The phrase refers to the last person who uses the good in its imported form. As a passenger, you may be the ultimate purchaser of the plastic disposable tableware that the airline provides with your meal. If you install windshields in new vehicles in a manufacturing plant, your company may be the ultimate purchaser. On the other hand, if you buy a windshield to replace a broken one, you may be the ultimate purchaser. So, "purchaser" does not always refer to the buyer; it means the user. Most goods that are free to the ultimate purchaser need to be marked. Foreign printed booklets are an example. Give away items made in NAFTA countries may be an exception to marking requirements.
May I use a self adhesive tag to mark my goods? It depends. We have all seen such markings on goods. The customs regulations specify that marking be as clear and permanent as the nature of the good allows. Some goods may by regulation be marked in one and only one way. Your method of marking may be clear and permanent, but be unacceptable. Hang tags on furniture used to be acceptable, but no longer. Also, if the package in which the item is sold will not likely be opened prior to purchase, the package must indicate the country of origin.
Must the marking say "Made in _______"? Again, it depends. Ordinarily the full English name of the country of origin is all that is required. Abbreviations or foreign spellings of the country of manufacture are not normally sufficient. If there is mention of a US location on the good or its package that might confuse the purchaser, the origin marking must indicate "Made in _______". Customs recently liberalized requirements concerning use of the phrase "Made in ___". If we keep the intent of the marking regulations in mind, common sense often provides the answer...but not always!
The seller shipped product to me with no origin markings. Customs will not release my goods. Now what? One options is to ship them back. Another is to have the goods marked at a location acceptable to customs. Another thought is that perhaps the goods need not be marked. There are special regulations that apply to goods to be repackaged in the U.S. Before you act, you may want to contact U.S. Customs at your port of entry
Are there any products that do not need to be marked? Yes, but their containers usually must be marked. There is a list, called the 'J-list", of such products in 19 CFR 134. There are other exemptions, too. For example, goods made over 20 years ago need not be marked. Nor do goods made in the US (unless they were processed outside the US).
How do I know if my goods will be marked to satisfy all federal agencies? Most foreign sellers who export to the US are familiar with how their products need to be marked. Customs import specialists can tell you which agencies may require markings other than country of origin markings. Then, you can contact that agency. You can also contact U.S. Customs at your port of entry.
See 19 CFR 134 if you are interested in marking requirements. Click here for more on origin markings
The following labels provide examples about the correct and incorrect ways that products should be labeled. We also provide remedies for the improperly labeled products.
1) A paper label on the plastic shrink wrap package of computer software:
Problem: Not permanently affixed and illegible.
2) A foil label on the front left fender of a main army battle tank:
Problem: Not permanently affixed and possibly too small.
3) 1,000 unmarked semiconductor devices manufactured in Korea contained in a "magazine" for a machine, which will automatically "stuff" printed circuit boards with the devices.
When using a marking tube, this is sufficient, the devices do not need to be marked.
4) A 7" panetella cigar with the following printed on the cigar band:
Problem: Cigars are a "J-List" item (19 CFR 134.33). Also, Cuban products are embargoed into the United States.
6.INVOICE Back To Top
A Commercial invoice, signed by the seller or shipper, or his agent, is acceptable for customs purposes if it is prepared in accordance with Section 141.86, Customs Regulations, and in the manner customary for a commercial transaction involving goods of the kind covered by the invoice. Importers and brokers participating in the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) may elect to transmit invoice data via the Automated Invoice Interface or EDIFACT, and eliminating the paper document.
The invoice must provide the following information, as required by the Tariff Act:
The invoice and all attachments must be in the English language, or shall be accompanied by an accurate English transaction.
Each invoice shall in adequate detail what merchandise is contained in each individual package.
If the invoice or entry does not disclose the weight, gauge, or measure of the merchandise necessary to ascertain duties, the importer of record shall pay expenses incurred to obtain this information prior to the release of the merchandise from Customs custody.
Each invoice shall set forth in detail, for each class or kind of merchandise, every discount from list or other base price which has been or may be allowed in fixing each purchaser price or value.
When more than one invoice is included in the same entry, each invoice with its attachments shall be numbered consecutively by the importer on the bottom of the face of each page, beginning with number 1. If the invoice is more than two pages, begin with number 1 for the first page of the first invoice and continue in a single series of numbers through all the invoices and attachments included in one entry. If an entry covers one invoice of one page and a second invoice two pages, the numbering at the bottom of the page shall be as follows: Inv. 1, p.1; Inv. 2, p.2; Inv. 2, p.3.
Any information required on an invoice may be set forth either on the invoice or on the attachment.
1. Separate Invoice Required for Each Shipment. Not more than one distinct shipment from one consignor to one consignee by one commercial carrier shall be included on the same invoice.
2. Assembled Shipments. Merchandise assembled for shipment to the same consignee by one commercial carrier may be included in one invoice. The original bills or invoices covering the merchandise, or extracts therefrom, showing the actual price paid or agreed to be paid, should be attached to the invoice.
3. Installment Shipments. Installments of a shipment covered by a single order or contract and shipped from one consignor to one consignee may be included in one invoice if the installments arrive at the port of entry by any means of transportation within a period not to exceed 10 consecutive days.
The invoice should be prepared in the same manner as are invoices covering single shipments and should include any additional information which may be required for the particular class of goods concerned. If it is practical to do so, the invoice should show the quantities, values, and other invoice data with respect to each installment, and the identification of the importing conveyance in which each installment was shipped.
4. Production "Assist". The invoice should indicate whether the production of merchandise involved costs for "assists" (i.e. - dies, molds, tooling, printing plates, artwork, engineering work, design and development, financial assistance, etc.) which are not included in the invoice price. If assists were involved, state their value, if known, and by whom supplied. Were they supplied without cost, or on a rental basis, or were they invoiced separately? If the latter, attach a copy of the invoice.
Whenever U.S. Customs requires information on the cost of production of goods for customs valuation, the importer will be notified by the district director. Thereafter, invoices covering shipments of such goods must contain a statement on the cost of production by the manufacture or producer.
5. Additional Information Required. Special information may be required on certain goods or classes of goods in addition to the information normally required on the invoice. Although the United States importer usually advises the exporter of these special situations, section 141.89 of the Customs Regulations, covers the requirements for these goods.
6. Rates of Exchange. In general, no rate(s) of exchange may be used to convert foreign currency for Customs purposes other than the rate(s) proclaimed or certified in 31 U.S.C. 5151. For merchandise imported from a country having a currency for which two or more rates of exchange has been certified by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (section 522 of the Tariff Act of 1930), the invoice the rate or rates used in converting the United States dollars received for the merchandise into the foreign currency and the percentage of each rate if two or more rates are used. If a rate or combination of rates used in payment or costs, charges, or expenses is different from those used in payment for the merchandise, state that rate or combinations of rates separately. Where dollars have not been converted at the time the invoice was prepared, that fact is stated on the invoice, in which case the invoice shall also state the rate or combination of rates at which the dollars will be converted or that it is not known what rate or rates will be used. Rates of exchange are not required for merchandise unconditionally free of duty or subject only to a specific rate of duty not depending on value.
PRO FORMA INVOICE
If the required commercial invoice is not filed at the same time the merchandise is entered, a statement in the form of an invoice (a pro forma invoice) must be filed by the importer at the time of entry. A bond is given for production of the required invoice not later than 120 days from the date of entry. If the invoice is needed for statistical purposes, it must be produced within 50 days from the date the entry summary is required to be filed.
The exporter should bear in mind that unless he forwards the required invoice in time, the American importer will incur a liability under his bond for failure to file the invoice with the district or port director of Customs before the expiration of the 120-day period.
Although a pro forma invoice is not a document which is prepared by the exporter, it is of interest to exporters as it gives a general idea as to the kind of information needed for entry purposes and indicates what the importer may find necessary to furnish Customs officers at the time a formal entry is filed for a commercial shipment if a properly prepared customs or commercial invoice is not available at the time the goods are entered.
Some of the additional information specified for the commodities under section 141.89 of the Customs Regulations may not be required when entry is made on a pro forma invoice. However, the pro forma invoice must contain sufficient data for examination, classification, and appraisement purposes.
FREQUENT ERRORS IN INVOICING
If difficulties, delays, and possible penal sanctions affecting the importer are to be avoided, care must be exercised by foreign sellers and shippers in the preparation of invoices and other documents to be used in the entry of goods into the commerce of the United States. Each document must contain all information required by law or regulations, and every statement of fact contained in the documents must be true and accurate. Any inaccurate or misleading statement of fact in a document presented to a Customs officer in connection with an entry, or the omission from the document of required information, may result in delays in merchandise release, the detention of the goods or a claim against the importer for domestic value. Even though the inaccuracy or omission was unintentional, the importer may be required to establish that he exercised due diligence and was not negligent, in order to avoid sanctions with consequent delay in obtaining possession of goods and closing the transaction. (See 19 U.S.C. 1592.)
It is particularly important that all statements relating to merchandise description, price or value and amounts of discounts, charges, and commissions be truthfully and accurately set forth. It is also important that the invoices shall set forth the true name of the actual seller and purchaser of the goods, in the case of purchased goods, or the true name of the actual consignor and consignee, when the goods are shipped otherwise than in pursuance of a purchase. It is important, too, that the invoice shall otherwise reflect the real nature of the transaction pursuant to which the goods were shipped to the United States.
The fundamental rule is that the shipper and importer must furnish the Customs officer with all pertinent information with respect to each import transaction to assist the Customs officers in determining the tariff status of the goods. Examples of omission and inaccuracies to be avoided are:
7.EXAMINATION OF GOODS AND ENTRY DOCUMENTS Back To Top
Examination of goods and documents is necessary to determine, among other things:
One of the primary methods of smuggling narcotics into the United States is in cargo shipments. Drug smugglers will place narcotics into a legitimate cargo shipment or container to be retrieved upon arrival in the United States. Because smugglers use any means possible to hide narcotics, all aspects of the shipment are examined, including: container, pallets, boxes, and product. Only through intensive inspection can narcotics be discovered.
Textiles and textile products are considered trade sensitive and as such may be subject to a higher percentage of examination than other commodities.
Customs officers will ascertain the quantity of goods imported, making allowances for shortages under specified conditions and assessing duty on any excess. The invoice may state the quantities in the weights and measures of the country from which the goods are shipped or in the weights and measures of the United States, but the entry must state the quantities in metric terms.
EXCESS GOODS AND SHORTAGES
The showing of the contents of each package on the invoice, the orderly packing of the goods, the proper marking and numbering of the packages in which the goods are packed, and the placing of the corresponding marks and numbers on the invoice facilitate the allowance in duties for goods which do not arrive and the ascertainment of whether any excess goods are contained in the shipment.
If any package is found by the Customs officer to contain any article not specified in the invoice, and there is reason to believe the article was omitted from the invoice by fraud, gross negligence or negligence on the part of the seller, shipper, owner, or agent, a monetary penalty may be imposed or in some circumstances the merchandise may be seized or forfeited.
When a deficiency in quantity weight, or measure is found by the Customs officer in the examination of any package which has been dated for examination, an allowance in duty will be made for the deficiency. Allowance in duty is made for deficiencies in packages not designated for examination, provided that before liquidation of the entry becomes final, the importer notifies the district or port director of Customs of the shortage and establishes to the satisfaction of the district or port director that the missing goods were not delivered to him.
DAMAGE OR DETERIORATION
Goods which are found by the Customs officer to be entirely without commercial value at the time of arrival in the United States because of damage or deterioration are treated as a "non importation." No duties are assessed on these goods on these goods. When damage or deterioration is present with respect to part of the shipment only, allowances in duties is not made unless the importer segregates the damaged or deteriorated part from the remainder of the shipment under Customs supervision.
When the shipment consists of fruits, vegetables, or other perishable merchandise, allowances in duties cannot be made unless the importer, within 96 hours after the unloading of the merchandise and before it has been removed from Customs custody, files an application for an allowance with the district or port director.
On shipments consisting of any article partly or wholly manufactured of iron or steel, or any manufacture of iron or steel, allowance or reduction of duty for partial damage or loss as a result of discoloration or rust is precluded by law.
TARE AND DRAFT
In ascertaining the quantity of goods dutiable on net weight, a deduction is made from the gross weight for just and reasonable tare, which is the allowance for a deficiency in the weight or quantity of the merchandise by reason of the weight of the box, cask, or bag, or other receptacle which contains it and is weighed with it.
7.CUSTOMS BOND Back To Top
A customs bond is a guarantee from a surety company to the United States government that the importer will faithfully abide by all laws and regulations governing the importation of merchandise into the United States. Any corporation, company or individual who wishes to import goods into the U.S. is required to post a bond or its cash equivalent. The bond is submitted on Customs Form 301. Customs bonds are issued by surety companies. The Treasury Department annually approves insurance companies for the issuance of Federal surety bonds. For a listing of approved surety companies please see the Department of the Treasury's Listing of Approved Sureties (Department Circular 570)
A bond is not designed or intended to protect the importer. The purpose of a bond is to guarantee that all customs duties, customs penalties, and other charges assessed by U.S. Customs will be properly paid and that all trade procedures will be followed.
WHAT CUSTOMS BONDS DO
Customs bonds provide the following functions:
There are two types of bonds: the single transaction bond and the continuous bond. Single transaction bonds cover single importations, and may cost as much as three times the value of the goods depending upon the goods. The bond covers only one import entry. Single importation bonds are used by the importer who conducts very few importations. The second type of bond is the continuous bond. This bond remains in force for one year and must be renewed annually. This bond is useful to the importer who is involved in trade throughout the year. The amount of this bond is usually equal to 10 percent of the total customs duties paid for the previous year or reasonably estimated for the current year, but not less than $50,000.
THE ROLE OF THE SURETY COMPANY
When goods are imported into the United States, the importer is responsible for making the goods available to the U.S. Customs Service for inspection, ensuring that labeling and packaging requirements have been met, making transaction records available for audit and paying estimated or additional duties and fees, where applicable. It is the surety company issuing the bond that guarantees that the importer will comply with U.S. Customs regulations. The surety company will be called on for payment when the importers cannot or will not fulfill their obligations to the United States government. In turn, the surety company is entitled to full recovery of any loss from the importer. If the importer fails to honor the conditions set forth in the bond, the surety company can be obligated to do so in the importer's place.
If you have any further questions, you can call U.S. Customs at 310-514-6030 and ask for a commodity control specialist.