The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is a renewable preferential trade program that allows the eligible products of designated beneficiary developing countries to directly enter the United States free of duty. The GSP program expired on July 31, 2013, but has been renewed through December 31, 2017, effective July 29, 2015, with retroactive effect between August 1, 2013 to July 28, 2015, by a provision in the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (Public Law 114-27; the Act).

The Act provides that for entries made on or after August 1, 2013 through July 28, 2015, to which duty-free treatment would have applied if GSP had been in effect during that time period, any duty paid with respect to such entry will be refunded (without interest)provided  that a request for liquidation or reliquidation of that entry, containing sufficient information to enable U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to locate the entry or to reconstruct the entry if it cannot be located, is filed with CBP by December 28, 2015 (180 days after enactment of Pub. L. 114–27).

On July 28, 2015, CBP published in the Federal Register document providing notice to importers and others that CBP will again accept claims for GSP duty-free treatment for merchandise entered, or withdrawn from warehouse, for consumption and that CBP will process refunds on duties paid, without interest, on GSP-eligible merchandise that was entered during the period that the GSP program was lapsed.

In addition to the Federal Register notice, CBP has posted more detailed instructions on its website. The instructions provide that effective July 29, 2015, filers again are entitled to file GSP-eligible entry summaries without the payment of estimated duties. Although the Federal Register notice only mentions entries with an “A” Special Program Indicator (SPI), the posted instructions referred to in the notice include the “A,” “A+” and “A*” SPIs.

The process to obtain duty refunds and the information (if any) that has to be provided to CBP is different depending on the type of entry filed and the method used when the entries and entry summaries were filed with CBP.  

Automated Entries  

For automated entries, CBP has developed a mechanism to facilitate refunds for entries submitted during the lapse period using the Special Program Indicator (SPI) for GSP (with the letter “A,” “A+” or “A*”) as a prefix to the tariff number. CBP expects to begin automated processing of these shortly after the effective date.

Formal/Informal Entries  

CBP will liquidate or reliquidate all affected entry summaries and refund any duties deposited (without interest, as stated in the Act) for items qualifying for GSP and for which requests for liquidation or reliquidation are timely filed. Field locations will not issue GSP refunds except as instructed to do so by CBP Headquarters.

If as stated above, an Automated Customs Interface (ABI) entry summary was filed with payment of estimated duties using the SPI for GSP (with the letter “A,” “A+,” or “A*”) as a prefix to the tariff number, no further action by the filer is required as filings with the SPI “A,” “A+” or “A*” will be treated as confirming requests for refunds.

In the case of liquidated entries involving an ABI entry summary that was filed with payment of estimated duties without the use of the SPI “A,” “A+” or “A*” as a prefix to the tariff number, a refund of duties depositedmust be requested in writing as described below for non-ABI entry summaries.

For unliquidated entries, Automated Commercial Enterprise (ACE) filers that did not include SPI Code “A,” “A+” or “A*” on their entry summary must timely submit a duty refund request to CBP via Post Summary Correction (PSC).  Requests made outside the 270 day PSC time limit must be in writing and provide sufficient information (i.e., the entry number, line number, and requested refund) to enable CBP to locate the entry.

All other filers of unliquidated entries, including Automated Commercial System (ACS), that did not include SPI Code “A,” “A+” or “A*” on their entry must timely submit a duty refund request to CBP in writing that provides sufficient information to enable CBP to locate the entry. CBP recommends submitting such filing by Post Entry Amendments (PEA).

Non-ABI filers must request a refund in writing from the Port Director at the port of entry by December 28, 2015, regardless of whether they previously designated a refund on the Customs Form 7501 by using the SPI “A,” “A+” or “A*” code. The request may cover either single entry summaries or all entry summaries filed by an individual filer at a single port. To expedite refunds,CBP recommends the following information be included in each letter:

  • A statement requesting a refund, as provided by section 201 of Title II of the Act;
  • An enumeration of the entry numbers and line items for which refunds are requested; and
  • The amount requested to be refunded for each line item and the total amount owed (not including interest) for all entry summaries.

Non-ABI Informal Entries  

If importers wrote a statement directly on their Customs informal entries (CBP Form 363 or CBP Form 7501) requesting a refund, no further action by the importer will be required; the statement will be treated as a conforming request for a refund. Failure to request a refund in this manner does not preclude an importer from otherwise making a timely request in writing, as described above for non-ABI filers.

Mail Entries and Baggage Declarations  

See the detailed instructions on the CBP GSP Refund Process webpage for information on documents needed to claim refunds for goods entered under mail entries and baggage declarations.

Goods Eligible for Retroactive Benefits

The GSP reauthorization provides retroactive benefits only to goods from a country that is a beneficiary of the GSP program as of July 29, 2015. As such, this would exclude countries such as Bangladesh and Russia that lost eligibility between July 31, 2013 and July 29, 2015.

Instructions for submitting a request to CBP to liquidate or reliquidate entries of GSP-eligible merchandise that was entered on or after August 1, 2013 through July 28, 2015 are located at the CBP page on GSP. Additional information is available at CBP's page on GSP renewal. CBP has also posted FAQs on the 2015 GSP reauthorization, as well as information on the GSP Refund Process

Eligibility of Certain Luggage and Travel Articles for Duty-Free GSP Treatment  

In addition to extending the GSP program and authorizing retroactive refunds, the Act also amended the GSP program to allow the President to designate certain luggage and travel articles as eligible articles for duty-free GSP Treatment. These articles are identified by the following  subheadings or statistical reporting numbers in the 2015 Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States:

  • Articles classifiable under subheading 4202.11.00, 4202.12.40, 4202.21.60, 4202.21.90, 4202.22.15, 4202.22.45, 4202.31.60, 4202.32.40, 4202.32.80, 4202.92.15, 4202.92.20, 4202.92.45, or 4202.99.90.
  • Articles classifiable under statistical reporting number 4202.12.2020, 4202.12.2050, 4202.12.8030, 4202.12.8070, 4202.22.8050, 4202.32.9550, 4202.32.9560, 4202.91.0030, 4202.91.0090, 4202.92.3020, 4202.92.3031, 4202.92.3091, 4202.92.9026, or 4202.92.9060