Customs duties

Normal rates and notification requirements

Where are normal customs duty rates for your jurisdiction listed? Is there an exemption for low-value shipments, if so, at what level? Is there a binding tariff information system or similar in place? Are there prior notification requirements for imports?

Tariff duty rates are listed in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) and can be found at www.usitc.gov/tata/hts/index.htm. The HTSUS lists the applied duty rates for countries with most-favoured nation (MFN) status, the non-MFN rates and special rates applied to countries with which the US has entered into FTAs or to which it provides unilateral trade preferences under the GSP or other programmes. Eligible shipments made to one person on one day with a value of under $800 are generally exempt from duties. Alcohol, cigarettes and tobacco and goods subject to Partner Government Agency requirements (Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency etc) are not eligible for this exemption.

Pursuant to 19 CFR Part 177, an importer can request a binding ruling from the CBP’s Office of Regulations and Rulings. The request can cover classification and other issues such as customs valuation and right to make entry. The rulings are binding on the CBP with respect to the specific goods and transactions described in the ruling request. These rulings also provide guidance to the importing public. Published rulings are available at rulings.cbp.gov. Ruling requests can be submitted electronically at https://erulings.cbp.gov/home.

For cargo security reasons, importers are required to provide prior notification to the CBP of goods imported by ocean vessel. These security-related prior notifications are known as the ‘Importer Security Filing’ (ISF). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires prior notification for food imports. Rules for prior notice can be found at www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/ImportsExports/Importing/ucm2006837.htm. The notification requirements allow the FDA to manage risk associated with imported food.

Steel products must also be licensed prior to importation. The Steel Import Monitoring and Analysis system requires licences for imports of steel mill products. Rules for the steel importation licensing requirements can be found at https://hq-web03.ita.doc.gov/Steel/SteelLogin.nsf.

Special rates and preferential treatment

Where are special tariff rates, such as under free trade agreements or preferential tariffs, and countries that are given preference listed?

All tariff rates are set forth in the HTSUS at the website listed above. The FTA and preferential tariff eligible countries are identified in the General Notes to the HTSUS.

How can GSP treatment for a product be obtained or removed?

Importers can request GSP treatment at the time of importation by claiming GSP on the entry documents submitted to the CBP.

The US has a system for requesting modifications to the GSP list. The instructions can be found at https://ustr.gov/issue-areas/trade-development/preference-programs/generalized-system-preference-gsp.

The USTR chairs an inter-agency group that governs the GSP programme. The GSP Committee conducts an annual review to consider changes to the lists of products and countries that are eligible for GSP treatment. Interested parties can submit petitions for the removal of products or countries. Products generally automatically lose eligibility if a country becomes proficient in the production and export of that product as evidenced by import values exceeding a threshold established by USTR. However, countries can submit petitions requesting a waiver of the GSP eligibility requirement.

Is there a duty suspension regime in place? How can duty suspension be obtained?

Historically, Congress has passed a Miscellaneous Tariff Bill that included non-controversial duty suspensions (generally for goods not produced in the US). In accordance with the American Manufacturing and Competitiveness Act of 2016, the US has adopted a more formal duty suspension process. Entities seeking duty suspension must now submit a request to the ITC, which will review the requests and make recommendations to Congress. Under these new procedures, duty suspension requests must demonstrate that the potential loss of revenue to the US will be less than $500,000 in a calendar year.

Challenge

Where can customs decisions be challenged in your jurisdiction? What are the procedures?

Once an entry is liquidated by the CBP, the first step is filing a protest with the CBP port following the procedures provided in 19 CFR 174.12. The protest must be filed within 180 days of liquidation of an entry. If this fails, then the decision can be appealed to the US Court of International Trade, and that decision can be appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.