Please be sure to ask yourself the following questions prior to import.
General questions for all transactions:
- If you have not retained an expert (e.g., lawyer, customs broker, accountant, or customs consultant) to assist you in complying with CBP requirements, do you have access to the CBP Regulations (Title 19 of the Code of Federal Regulations), the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (generally referred to as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule), and CBPBulletin and Decisions? (All three are available from the Superintendent of Documents, Tel. 202.512.1800.) Do you have access to the CBP Website at www.cbp.gov, or other research service that provides the information to help you establish reliable procedures and facilitate compliance with CBP law and regulations?
- Has a responsible, knowledgeable individual within your organization reviewed your CBP documentation to assure that it is full, complete and accurate? If the documentation was prepared outside your organization, do you have a reliable method to assure that you receive copies of the information submitted to CBP, that it is reviewed for accuracy, and that CBP is apprised of needed corrections in a timely fashion?
- If you use an expert to help you comply with CBP requirements, have you discussed your importations in advance with that person, and have you provided him or her with complete, accurate information about the import transaction(s)?
- Are identical transactions or merchandise handled differently at different ports or CBP offices within the same port? If so, have you brought this fact to CBP officials’ attention?
Questions by topic: Merchandise Description & Tariff Classification
- Basic Question: Do you know what you ordered, where it was made, and what it is made of?
- Have you provided a complete, accurate description of your merchandise to CBP in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1481? (Also, see 19 CFR 141.87 and 19 CFR 141.89 for special merchandise description requirements.)
- Have you provided CBP with the correct tariff classification of your merchandise in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1484?
- Have you obtained a CBP ruling regarding the description of your merchandise or its tariff classification (see 19 CFR Part 177)? If so, have you followed the ruling and apprised appropriate CBP officials of those facts (i.e., of the ruling and your 28 compliance with it)?
- Where merchandise description or tariff classification information is not immediately available, have you established a reliable procedure for obtaining it and providing it to CBP?
- Have you participated in a CBP classification of your merchandise in order to get it properly described and classified?
- Have you consulted the tariff schedules, CBP informed compliance publications, court cases or CBP rulings to help you properly describe and classify the merchandise?
- Have you consulted with an expert (e.g., lawyer, customs broker, accountant, customs consultant) to assist in the description and/or classification of the merchandise?
- If you are claiming a conditionally free or special tariff classification or provision for your merchandise (e.g., GSP, HTS Item 9802, NAFTA), how have you verified that the merchandise qualifies for such status? Do you have the documentation necessary to support the claim? If making a NAFTA preference claim, do you have a NAFTA certificate of origin in your possession?
- Is the nature of your merchandise such that a laboratory analysis or other specialized procedure is advised for proper description and classification?
- Have you developed reliable procedures to maintain and produce the required entry documentation and supporting information?
Questions by topic: Valuation
- Basic Questions: Do you know the “price actually paid or payable” for your merchandise? Do you know the terms of sale? Whether there will be rebates, tie-ins, indirect costs, additional payments? Whether “assists” were provided or commissions or royalties paid ? Are amounts actual or estimated? Are you and the supplier “related parties”?
- Have you provided CBP with a proper declared value for your merchandise in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1484 and 19 U.S.C. 1401a?
- Have you obtained a CBP ruling regarding valuation of the merchandise (see 19 CFR Part 177)? Can you establish that you followed the ruling reliably? Have you brought those facts to the attention of CBP?
- Have you consulted the CBP valuation laws and regulations, CBP Valuation Encyclopedia, CBP informed compliance publications, court cases and CBP rulings to assist you in valuing merchandise?
- If you purchased the merchandise from a “related” seller, have you reported that fact upon entry? Have you assured that the value reported to CBP meets one of the “related party” tests?
- Have you assured that all legally required costs or payments associated with the imported merchandise (assists, commissions, indirect payments or rebates, royalties, etc.) have been reported to CBP?
- If you are declaring a value based upon a transaction in which you were/are not the buyer, have you substantiated that the transaction is a bona fide “sale at arm’s length” and that the merchandise was clearly destined to the United States at the time of sale?
- If you are claiming a conditionally free or special tariff classification or provision for your merchandise (GSP, HTS Item 9802, NAFTA), have you reported the required value information and obtained the documentation necessary to support the claim?
- Have you produced the required entry documentation and supporting information?
Questions by topic: Country of Origin / Marking / Quota
- Basic Question: Have you ascertained the correct country of origin for the imported merchandise?
- Have you reported the correct country of origin on CBP entry documents?
- Have you assured that the merchandise is properly marked upon entry with the correct country of origin (if required) in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 1304 and any other applicable special marking requirements (watches, gold, textile labeling, etc)?
- Have you obtained a CBP ruling regarding the proper marking and country of origin of the merchandise (see 19 CFR Part 177)? If so, have you followed the ruling and brought that fact to the attention of CBP?
- Have you consulted with a customs expert regarding the correct country-oforigin/proper marking of your merchandise?
- Have you apprised your foreign supplier of CBP country-of-origin marking requirements prior to importation of your merchandise?
- If you are claiming a change in the origin of the merchandise or claiming that the goods are of U.S. origin, have you taken required measures to substantiate your claim (e.g., do you have U.S. milling certificates or manufacturers’ affidavits attesting to production in the United States)?
- If importing textiles or apparel, have you ascertained the correct country of origin in accordance with 19 U.S.C. 3592 (Section 334, P.L. 103-465) and assured yourself that no illegal transshipment or false or fraudulent practices were involved?
- Do you know how your goods are made, from raw materials to finished goods, by whom and where?
- Have you ensured that the quota category is correct?
- Have you checked the Status Report on Current Import Quotas (Restraint Levels), issued by CBP, to determine if your goods are subject to a quota category with “part” categories?
- Have you obtained correct visas for those goods subject to visa categories?
- For textile articles, have you prepared a proper country declaration for each entry, i.e., a single country declaration (if wholly obtained/produced) or a multi-country declaration (if raw materials from one country were transformed into goods in a second)?
- Can you produce all entry documentation and supporting information, including certificates of origin, if CBP requires you to do so?
Questions by topic: Intellectual property rights
- Basic Question: Have you determined whether your merchandise or its packaging use any trademarks or copyrighted material or are patented? If so, can you establish that you have a legal right to import those items into and/or use them in the United States?
- If you are importing goods or packaging bearing a trademark registered in the United States, have you established that it is genuine and not restricted from importation under the “gray-market” or parallel-import requirements of United States law (see 198 CFR 133.21), or that you have permission from the trademark holder to import the merchandise?
- If you are importing goods or packaging that contain registered copyrighted material, have you established that this material is authorized and genuine? If you are importing sound recordings of live performances, were the recordings authorized?
- Is your merchandise subject to an International Trade Commission or court-ordered exclusion order?
- Can you produce the required entry documentation and supporting information?