Archive for the ‘US Customs’ Category


Is Canada’s Softwood Lumber Industry Facing a Cold Blow from the South?

Softwood Lumber

Softwood Importers to the United States May Be about to Find Out!

The U.S. Lumber Coalition has filed petitions with the International Trade Administration for Antidumping (AD) and Countervailing (CV) relief on importations of multiple lumber products originating in Canada.

This article is in response to this advisement just released:

The petitioners allege critical circumstances, requesting that AD and CV duties be applied imminently. If critical circumstance is approved, “CV duties could be applicable to entries filed as early as December 15, 2016, and AD duties could appear as early as February 3, 2017.” Initial review indicates an alleged AD margin of 52.89%, while there are few specifics as to the countervailing rates. We will continue to keep you posted as more is known.

The scope of the AD Duty and CV Duty cases are dispositive. The potential Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) headings and subheadings are provided for convenience only. Language of the scope as presented is detailed here:

Petition Coverage

The merchandise covered by these petitions is softwood lumber, siding, flooring and certain other coniferous wood (‘softwood lumber products’). The scope includes:

  • Coniferous wood, sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or peeled, whether or not planed, whether or not sanded, or whether or not finger-jointed, of an actual thickness exceeding six millimeters.
    Coniferous wood siding, flooring and other coniferous wood (other than moldings and dowel rods), including strips and friezes for parquet flooring, that is continuously shaped (including, but not limited to, tongued, grooved, rebated, chamfered, V-jointed, beaded, molded, rounded) along any of its edges, ends or faces, whether or not planed, whether or not sanded, or whether or not end-jointed.
  • Coniferous drilled and notched lumber and angle cut lumber.
  • Coniferous lumber stacked on edge and fastened together with nails, whether or not with plywood sheathing.
  • Components or parts of semi-finished or unassembled finished products made from subject merchandise that would otherwise meet the definition of the scope above within the scope of these investigations.

Softwood lumber product imports are generally entered under Chapter 44 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (“HTSUS”). Softwood lumber products that are subject to these petitions are currently classifiable under the following ten-digit HTSUS subheadings in Chapter 44: [Please see attached for detailed list of 47 specifically-included ten-digit HTSUS provisions].

Subject merchandise may also be classified as stringers, square cut box-spring frame components, fence pickets, truss components, pallet components, and door and window frame parts under the following ten-digit HTSUS subheadings in Chapter 44: 4415.20.40.00; 4415.20.80.00; 4418.90.46.05; 4418.90.46.20; 4418.90.46.40; 4418.90.46.95; 4421.90.70.40; 4421.90.94.00; and 4421.90.97.80.

Although these HTSUS subheadings are provided for convenience and customs purposes, the written description of the scope of the investigation is dispositive.”

We are here for YOU

In addition to the AD and CV duties, there are likely to be additional requirements from the surety company who provides your Continuous Transaction Bond with Customs. It is imperative that you remain aware of your requirements proactively.

Should you prefer to communicate directly, our Trade Compliance Group is well-versed in AD and CV processes and ready to answer your questions or help to address your concerns. You can reach us 24/7 Toll Free: 877.332.8534 for all entry processing requests.

Renew Free Trade Agreement Certificates for Duty Reduction and Elimination


Free Trade Agreement
















With the end of the year quickly approaching, now is the time for importers and exporters to review, update and renew their blanket Free Trade Agreement Certificates of Origin (such as the North American Free Trade Agreement Certificates of Origin) on file with their customs broker.

Most Free Trade Agreement Certificates of Origin expire on December 31. It is important to communicate with all your suppliers to request 2017 Certificates of Origin to avoid getting caught without one in January. Failure to renew your Certificates of Origin could result in significantly higher Most Favored Nation (MFN) duty rate being assessed on your goods.

Importer Responsibilities Under Free Trade Agreements

Free Trade Agreements provide for duty free entry of qualifying goods originating in participating countries that meet those countries’ rules of origin. In order to benefit from the preferential tariff treatments provided by these countries, the importer is responsible for having a completed and valid Certificate of Origin on file for any goods claiming a reduced or free rate of duty.

Correctly Completed Certificates

For companies reviewing Certificates of Origin from their vendors, the first step is to ensure that at face value the certificate has proper coding and is fully completed. While this might sound like common sense you would be surprised how many certificates are missing information or contain unacceptable data (for instance, on a NAFTA certificate indicating a dollar value in the net cost column). In order to assure accuracy of the data, you need to have sufficient knowledge regarding the completion of the document, the basics of which are usually found on the second page of the applicable Certificate of Origin. If not completed accurately, you are at risk for Administrative Monetary Penalty System (AMPS) and potential duties issued by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

How Pacific Customs Brokers Can Help with Free Trade Agreements

As a Pacific Customs Brokers client, should you have questions regarding your free trade agreement renewal, please do not hesitate to contact our Compliance Team by telephone or email.


  • FTA Concierge Services
    For clients with time constraints, we offer convenient FTA Concierge Services. We can solicit FTA certificates directly from your exporters allowing you to do what you do best – run your business.
  • Tariff Classification Consulting
    We offer expert analysis for clients seeking guidance on tariff classification. You may know the ins and outs of your business, but we know the intricacies of trade and always look out for our client’s bottom line.


  • NAFTA Webinar Series
    Join this two-part webinar series to learn about rules of origin under the North American Free Trade Agreement. Each part in the series is 60-minutes in length and will clarify a common assumption that all products manufactured in Canada, the United States or Mexico are eligible for duty free status.
    Learn more or register now!
  • Free Trade Agreements and Rule of Origin Workshop
    In this full-day workshop we will provide you with a comprehensive field-by-field guide to completing a NAFTA certificate. We will assist you in understanding product eligibility, rules of origin, common errors and the importer’s responsibilities under the program to maximize savings.
    Learn more or register now!


Biennial FDA Food Facility Re-registration Opens October 1, 2016

FoodAbout the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) program:

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) improves the registration process by ensuring, among other things, that the FDA has accurate contact information for each facility. The new registration form also includes new categories of foods. These new categories will help FDA rapidly communicate with the right facilities in the event of an emergency.

Food producers and manufacturers have long been required to register with the Food and Drug Administration. Facilities can register online, via mail or fax. If your company is not domestic (not located within the U.S.) you will be required to assign a U.S. agent in your registration. See below for more information on assigning a U.S. agent.

Read more in our blog: Food Modernization Safety Act – Re-Registering your Facility with the FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued further information and guidance regarding registration requirements for domestic and foreign manufacturers, processors, packers or holders of food for human or animal consumption based on changes made by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act).

Biennial registration renewal for food facilities begins at 12:01 AM on October 1, 2016. The updated food facility registration system is accepting food facility registration renewals.

Who must register?

Under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FMSA), all domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, pack or store food, food ingredients, pet foods or dietary supplements are required to renew their registration with the FDA before the end of 2016 and to re-register every two years thereafter. This represents a change from the previous registration requirement for food facilities. The re-registration form contains new food categories, and requires more detailed and updated contact information.

 Read more in our blog: U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act – Does It Affect Me?

How to re-register a domestic company?

To submit a registration renewal to FDA, a food facility is required to submit required registration information to FDA, including the additional registration information.

If you are affected by the new regulations, you may re-register your food facility online.

How to re-register if not a domestic company?

Pacific Customs Brokers offers the following services:

  • Act as your U.S. Agent
  • Assist with FSMA re-registration
  • Answer your queries regarding FDA requirements

Contact Pacific Customs Brokers for assistance with food facility registrations or the FSMA. To stay current on this topic, you may also want to subscribe to Pacific Customs Brokers weekly trade newsletter.

Do you have questions on the FDA food facility re-registration? Share them in our comments section below or email Ask Your Broker today.

Estimated vs. Actual Duty Costs: CBP Liquidation Explained



















It is common practice for customs brokers to invoice for projected duty, often listed as “estimated costs,” on the invoice instead of the actual duty payable. Amounts that must actually be paid remain an “estimate” with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) until “liquidated.” The liquidation process can be lengthy, therefore “estimated costs” are used until such time as the final determination is set by CBP.

According to CBP, liquidation is defined as, “the final computation or ascertainment of duties on entries for consumption or drawback entries.” (Source: 19 CFR §159.1)

The Liquidation Process

Importers are required to declare imported goods to CBP in the form of an entry, often prepared by a customs broker. Based on the value of the goods and H.S. tariff classification, duties and taxes are calculated and paid to CBP either direct by the Importer of Record (IOR), or by the customs broker on behalf of the IOR. CBP will review the entry for duty and tax accuracy (during the pre-liquidation period) and either agree with the calculations as paid or inform the customs broker or IOR of the recalculated amounts and any duties owing or payable. CBP will then liquidate the entry 314 days after entry submission.

Liquidation can be extended upon request, however the IOR must provide reason to do so. CBP is also at liberty to extend this time frame if the duty payable amounts are in question. Extensions are granted in one year increments and cannot be extended more than 3 times.

Anti-dumping and or countervailing duty investigations can cause the liquidation process to be suspended, as can a number of other issues, such as reconciliation entries our outstanding ruling requests.

Many IORs ask how they will know when the liquidation has been completed. Importers will receive a Courtesy Notice of Liquidation on a form 4333A, which utilizes the date of the actual liquidation. This notice requires no further action apart from record keeping requirements. However, if there is additional duty owing, the Courtesy Notice of Liquidation will be pink and if customs has extended or suspended the liquidation, this will be indicated on the form.

While the liquidation of entries may seem like a simple matter, it is important that importers review their liquidation notices for anomalies such as extensions, suspension, changed status, change in amounts due, etc. While the majority of entries do liquidate on schedule and as expected, there can be surprises. Should you receive a liquidation notice that does not match your expectations, get in touch with your customs broker for clarification as soon as possible in order to maintain your legal right to protest the matter should you find it objectionable.

Have you received a questionable liquidation notice? Share with us in the comments section below or email us at Ask Your Broker.

Are You Subject to a U.S. Customs Audit?


















All companies importing goods into the U.S. are subject to audit – no matter their size, scope of business or resident or non-resident importer. Therefore it’s important to know what U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) looks at when determining who to audit.

CBP utilizes a strategically layered risk management approach based on the potential impact of non-compliance in order to better focus on those areas of importing which may cause significant revenue loss, harm to the U.S. economy, or threaten the health and safety of the American people.

Priority Trade Issues

Customs publicizes a list of Priority Trade Issues (PTIs) which is reviewed and updated periodically. Currently, the following issues are ones that customs considers to be high-risk:

  • Anti-dumping duty
  • Countervailing duty
  • Import Safety
  • Intellectual Property Rights
  • Textiles
  • Trade Agreements

While this list by no means restricts customs from conducting audits on transactions that fall outside of these categories, it does provide a general idea of where their primary focus presently resides.

In determining the likelihood of your firm undergoing a U.S. Customs audit, there are all sorts of other considerations which come to bear and may include:

  • Total value and/or volume of your imports
  • Variety and chapters of H.S. classification
  • Special classes of entry, such as Temporary Importation Bonds (TIB), or U.S. Goods Returned (USGR)
  • Related party transactions
  • Your firm’s internal controls, compliance policies and record keeping practices
  • Prior audit history
  • Prior penalty history

We consider that there is a clear foundation on which the adequacy and accuracy of your customs declarations stand. These include tariff classification, country of origin, and valuation. Most importers are aware of the importance of ensuring that their tariff classification is declared correctly, and they know that they must declare the proper country of manufacture of the goods, and that those goods are required to be marked with the country of origin prior to import. Valuation, however, can definitely be a trip hazard to unwary or uninformed importers. This article speaks directly to that matter.

As an Importer of Record (IOR), whether a resident of the United States or a non-resident, it is your explicit responsibility to act with reasonable care. CBP’s reasonable care standards are clearly defined, and more information can be obtained on that subject referenced in this paper.

Transaction Value (TV) is the most usual valuation methodology, and used appropriately, does fit the most frequent type of transactions. Transaction value or TV can be defined as “the price paid or payable for the merchandise.” There are a number of possible influences that may prohibit declaring TV on your imports, including:

  • Related transactions may not be eligible, depending on a number of factors
  • Leased or loaned equipment is not eligible for TV
  • Sample or “no-charge” transactions
  • Consignment shipments
  • Assists that the buyer provides to the seller must be taken into consideration
  • Other additions, such as packing, commissions, royalties, transportation must all be added to the “price paid or payable” for the merchandise

These are simply a few of the matters that must be considered when you are determining the value declared to customs.

Additional Resources

Informed Compliance Publications available on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website include a number of excellent publications. We suggest the following:

  • Reasonable Care
  • Bona Fide Sales & Sales for Exportation to the United States
  • Customs Value
  • Customs Value Encyclopedia
  • Determining the Acceptability of Transaction Value for Related Party Transactions
  • Proper Deductions for Freight and Other Costs

Customs Audit Assistance Services

If you have reason to believe that your valuation declarations may have the potential to raise flags during a customs audit, please give us a call to discuss this further. We have the expertise to guide your company through the audit process.

Preparing for a Customs Audit

To learn more and gain insight on the customs audit process, consider attending an upcoming seminar. For a session that will guide you through the maze of regulations that determine transaction value attend our upcoming Customs Valuation Seminar. If you are importing and exporting goods into the United States, you will also find our U.S. Trade Compliance Seminar of interest.

If you wish to know more about this important topic or wish to share your experiences please leave your questions or concerns in the comments section below or email us at Ask Your Broker.