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Do You Know the Top 10 Tips When Importing?

posted by Jennifer Diaz June 18, 2013 0 comments

Do you know the top 10 tips when importing to ensure compliance?  If not, here’s why you should attend my Compliance Online webinar on June 27, 2013 at 10:00 a.m., EST. 

If you import merchandise into the U.S., you are the responsible party and must be aware your requirements and potential liability.  In this presentation, we will discuss how to comply with U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) vast laws and regulations. By the end of the webinar you will know and understand the importance of:

  • Tariff classification;
  • Customs valuation;
  • Country of origin marking;
  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Protection and CBP Enforcement; and
  • Free Trade Agreements (FTA)  you should be taking advantage of.

You will also learn basic customs concepts and terms like:

  • CBP Form 3461 & CBP 7501;
  • Protests;
  • Seizure cases;
  • Liquidated damage claims, Penalties/Fines;
  • Prior disclosure; and
  • FP&F Petition Process.

Learn key best practices and hear real life case studies. Learn what to do, and more importantly, what NOT to do, and what the consequences are for non compliance.

To register for this webinar on June 27, 2013 at 10:00 EST, click here.

CBPCurrency SeizureSeizuresU.S.Customs

Don’t Let Your Currency be Seized When Traveling Internationally – TOP TIPS

posted by Jennifer Diaz November 20, 2012 2 Comments

The holidays are approaching… Do you intend to carry “monetary instruments” when traveling internationally?

Read on, these TOP 5 Tips when carrying “monetary instruments” above $10,000 can save you a U.S. Customs Seizure Case.

Here are your top tips to assure you get it right, and you’re not screaming “Help – U.S. Customs Took my Money at the Airport”.

1. If you intend to carry over $10,000 in monetary instruments, including travelers checks and U.S. or foreign money, you MUST fill out the required form, FINCEN Form 105.  Note, it is PERFECTLY acceptable to travel with currency, you JUST have to report it. Don’t be scared to do so.

2. Review U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s “Currency Reporting” flyer.  Make sure you memorize what “monetary instruments” consist of:

  • U.S. or foreign coins and currency;
  • Travelers checks (in any form);
  • Negotiable Instruments (including checks, promissory notes, and money orders – in a transferable form);
  • Incomplete instruments (checks, promissory notes, and money orders) that are signed with a payees name omitted;
  • Securities or stock in bearer form (in a transferable form)

3. Make sure you can explain the legitimate source of the money.

4. Make sure you can explain the legitimate intended use of the money.

5. Don’t divide currency for the purpose of evading reporting requirements.

Check out CBP’s recent seizures of currency and DON’T LET THIS HAPPEN TO YOU!:

 

Best PracticesCurrency SeizureSeizures

Can I Bring in More Than $10,000 to the United States When Travelling?

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog January 10, 2012 15 Comments

I’m coming back into the United States and I need to bring in more than $10,000. I heard that it is illegal to bring that much money into the U.S. when you travel. Am I allowed to bring in more than $10,000 to the U.S. when I travel? 

The simple answer to this question is: YES

Many people are under the impression that you are not allowed to carry more than $10,000 into the United States; this is nothing more than an urban legend. The fact is that you may legally carry any amount of money you want into or out of the United States, but there is a catch. When transporting more than $10,000, you must file a report declaring the exact amount of funds you are transporting to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). To be clear, there are no customs duties, taxes or other fees paid to U.S. Customs for the international transportation of the money; it is merely a reporting requirement to U.S. Customs.  On a Typical Day in Fiscal Year 2015, CBP seized $356,396 in undeclared or illicit currency.

If persons traveling together have $10,000 or more, they cannot divide the currency between each other to avoid declaring the currency. For example, if one person is carrying $5,000 and the other has $6,000, they have a total of $11, 000 in their possession and must report it.

What happens if you don’t declare your money? The penalties and repercussions can be severe. If you are stopped by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and more than $10,000 is found on your person or in your belongings and this money was not declared, you run the very real risk of CBP taking all of the money you were carrying… and keeping it. Failure to report the international transportation of money is serious business. Not only could you lose your money forever, you may be subject to civil and criminal penalties.

On a side note, reporting requirements are not limited to cash dollars. The same requirements apply for various monetary instruments, including foreign currency, traveler’s checks, domestic or foreign bank notes, securities or stocks in bearer form. To learn more about the requirements of the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act, click here.

And if you are reading this blog post because you failed to report your funds and CBP has seized your money, your best bet is to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced with these matters (info@diaztradelaw.com). There is an administrative process by which you can attempt to recuperate your funds and having the assistance of a skilled attorney is key to maximizing your chance of getting your money back and minimizing your chances of exposing yourself to civil and criminal fines.

My firm and I are greatly experienced with these matters, having handled hundreds of these types of cases nationwide. This is a Federal process most often done through email, telephone and snail mail correspondence with the Federal Government and so we can help no matter where in the country you are located or your monies were seized. Although we are located in South Florida, we handle cases all over the country. 

We have a webpage dedicated to Currency Seizures HERE with REAL SEIZURE NOTICE examples from CBP, a video describing the process and a sampling of some of our REAL successful results.

*Successful Past Results

Some REAL examples include:

  • $54,000 Seized by CBP – $49,000 Returned to our client
  • $50,800 Seized by CBP – $45,800 Returned to our client
  • $39,000 Seized by CBP – $36,500 Returned to our client
  • $37,360 Seized by CBP – $33,500 Returned to our client
  • $31,062 Seized by CBP – $28,562 Returned to our client
  • $16,334 Seized by CBP – $15,334 Returned to our client

Additional blog posts on currency seizures may be found HERE.

Contact us at info@diaztradelaw.com today to discuss your specific case.

ImportSeizures

Invalidated Trademarks may Still Cause Your Products to be Seized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, but There’s a Solution.

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog October 19, 2011 0 comments
Michael De Biase

Among its other duties, U.S. Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") has the daunting task and responsibility to search and seize products that are counterfeit or otherwise infringe the intellectual property rights of original goods manufacturers. This is accomplished through CBP’s Intellectual Property Rights Recordation System. As the name suggests, trademark and copyright owners record their intellectual property rights with CBP and CBP keeps records of such recordings via this system, which can be accessed online at http://iprs.cbp.gov/. Using this system, an importer can determine if any of the products that it is importing actually violate the intellectual property rights of somebody else. However, there is a big problem with this system that can cause CBP to wrongfully seize goods, thereby inflicting substantial monetary damages and significant delays in delivery times.

Intellectual property rights are not absolute and can therefore be challenged and cancelled through the U.S. federal court system. When a trademark is cancelled, the U.S. district court has to notify and direct the Director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO") to remove the trademark registration from the USPTO’s registrar. Until CBP is notified that the trademark has been cancelled, CBP will continue to seize products that potentially infringe the rights of the now cancelled trademark. This causes products to be wrongfully seized, and, in turn costs the importer tens of thousands of dollars as well as significant delays.

To avoid falling victim to this situation, you must contact an attorney. An attorney can perform the proper legal research to determine whether your shipment contains products that are likely to be seized for infringement of intellectual property rights. In such an instance, the old saying "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" really holds true.

Seizures

Recovering Your Seized Cargo from U.S. Customs

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog August 22, 2011 0 comments

On September 8, 2011, from 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST, the Journal of Commerce will host a webinar entitled “Recovering Your Seized Cargo”.   The panel experts will explain the CBP detention and seizure process, as well as the administrative petition and judicial forfeiture process.

If you have ever had your money seized by Customs for failure to declare over $10,000, had merchandise seized for misdeclaring its value or not paying enough customs duties, had your bank account seized for alleged trade-based money laundering, or had any other items detained or seized by U.S. Customs for violating another Federal agency’s regulations, you should sign up for this webinar.

The fee is only $155 for this most informative webinar taught by experts with a comprehensive understanding of the internal policies and procedures of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  A little knowledge now could save you time, frustration, and a lot of money by learning how to avoid a seizure, or when a seizure has already occurred, how to get your seized cargo back as quickly as possible.

Whatever the type of merchandise, whether it is an import or an export shipment, whether it will be sold in the United States or just moving in-transit through the United States, whether it needs a special import or export license, U.S. Customs seizes and forfeits tens of millions of dollars of merchandise every year.  Download the Powerpoint presentations, and get involved in the Q&A session. Click  “Recovering Your Seized Cargo” to register at the Journal of Commerce website.

Department of Homeland SecuritySeizures

Notice of Detention of Merchandise by U.S. Customs and Border Protection

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 24, 2011 4 Comments

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a February 22, 2011 60-Day Notice and Request for Comments regarding its use of a "Notice of Detention".  I know, a lot of you are saying to yourselves, "When did CBP starting using Notices of Detention," and my response to you is "That’s a darn good question!"

The law, 19 U.S.C. 1499 and 19 CFR 151.16, allows CBP officers at the border to stop and search persons for merchandise.  If the CBP officer discovers something suspicious, and takes it from you, then it has been "detained".  In exchange, the CBP officer is required to send to the importer or passenger a Notice of Detention form no later than 5 business days from the date of the examination, stating that: (1) the merchandise has been detained, (2) the reason for the detention, and (3) the anticipated length of the detention. 

That all sounds reasonable, but the problem is that the legal requirement is often ignored by CBP.  Often, a Notice of Detention is never issued by CBP to the importer, or is issued late or does not state the reason for the detained merchandise.  I  have seen a few hundred Notices of Detention over the past 21 years as a customs lawyer, but have never seen one that described "the anticipated length of detention."

The Request for Comments asks the public for "ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected."  I have a way to enhance the quality of the CBP Notice of Detention – follow the law and issue it every time, on time, and accurately.   For those who want to respond formally to CBP, click on the link for the address to address comments before April 25, 2011

Seizures

U.S. Customs Seizures and Forfeitures are Unique

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog September 6, 2010 8 Comments

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. Customs or CBP) seizes and forfeits hundreds of millions of dollars of merchandise every year.  The IRS, DEA, U.S. Postal Service, and other Federal agencies also have the legal authority to seize and forfeit merchandise that were allegedly used illegally or were proceeds of alleged illegal activity, but U.S. Customs administrative and judicial forfeiture procedures are unique.  The answer is that seizures by U.S. Customs typically are not included within the Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform Act of 2000 (CAFRA).

The difference between a seizure under CAFRA’s  rules under 18 U.S.C. 983 – The General Rules for Civil Forfeitures, and the U.S. Customs rules under the Tariff Act of 1930 and the Supplemental Rules of Admiralty, is significant. These significant differences are often misunderstood, including by attorneys who do not regularly practice in seizure and forfeiture matters.   Under CAFRA, the U.S. Government must send an administrative seizure notice to affected persons within 60 days of the seizure, but for U.S. Customs cases, there is no such requirement. In fact, unfortunately, U.S. Customs often takes 90 to days to issue the Seizure Notice letter to affected parties such as the owner of the seized merchandise. Under CAFRA, a claimant has 35 days from the date of the notice of seizure to file its administrative claim or request judicial forfeiture.  For U.S. Customs cases, the claimant must file a Petition within 30 days of the seizure notice or, if seeking judicial review of the seizure, file a claim and cost bond equal to 10% of the value of the seized merchandise, up to a maximum of $5,000.  In CAFRA cases, no court bond is required.  Once in Federal Court, for CAFRA cases, the U.S. Government’s burden of proof is by the preponderance of the evidence.  In U.S. Customs cases, the Government has a lower burden of proof by establishing probable cause for the seizure, and then the burden shifts to the claimant to establish, by the preponderance of the evidence, that the property may not be forfeited. 

There are other numerous differences, a few of which are set forth in a comparison chart. One big difference is that in U.S. Customs cases, a claimant may file an administrative Petition with U.S. Customs seeking to get the seized merchandise released, and if unsuccessful, then go to Court.  In non-U.S. Customs cases, a claimant who chooses to file a Petition with the Federal agency and loses cannot then seek relief in Federal Court.  In general, filing a Petition with U.S. Customs or other Federal agency is the preferred alternative because it is often (1) faster, (2) less expensive, and (3) gives the greatest chance of success in getting the merchandise released from seizure.

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Help! U.S. Customs Took My Money at the Airport

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 1, 2010 101 Comments

You may legally carry or mail any amount of money you want into or out of the United States, but if it is more than $10,000 at one time, you better first report it to U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Otherwise, you risk U.S. Customs taking it from you, and never getting it back. Why?  Because your failure to report the international transportation of money is a violation of the Currency and Foreign Transaction Reporting Act.

All too often, I am contacted by a distraught American citizen or resident returning from a trip overseas, or a foreign visitor to the United States, who was unaware of the laws regarding currency reporting.  The person was asked by a U.S. Customs officer upon arrival at the international airport if he or she was carrying over $10,000. When the passenger honestly answer “yes”, or the U.S. Customs officer believes the passenger may be lying about the amount of money being transported, the passenger and his or her luggage are examined.  If over $10,000 in monetary instruments, including travelers checks and U.S. or foreign money, is discovered, and the required form, FINCEN Form 105, has not been filed with U.S. Customs, all of the money is likely to be seized on the spot by U.S. Customs.

A formal Seizure Notice will eventually be issued by U.S. Customs to the passenger, and the passenger may hire a customs attorney to pursue the administrative petition process to get the money (or most of it) back.  Proof of the legitimate source of the money and proof of the legitimate intended use of the money are required in communicating with Customs.  Eventually, after several months, Customs may return typically 90% of the money.

It is an expensive mistake to not report to U.S. Customs when either carrying, mailing, or receiving over $10,000 internationally.  Please read U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s “Currency Reporting” requirements and look at the FINCEN Form 105 and its instructions before attempting to transport over $10,000.  There are no customs duties, taxes or other fees paid to U.S. Customs for the international transportation of the money; it is merely a reporting requirement to U.S. Customs.

My firm and I are greatly experienced with these matters, having handled hundreds of these types of cases nationwide. This is a Federal process most often done through email, telephone and snail mail correspondence with the Federal Government and so we can help no matter where in the country you are located or your monies were seized. Although we are located in South Florida, we handle cases all over the country. 

We have a webpage dedicated to Currency Seizures HERE with REAL SEIZURE NOTICE examples from CBP, a video describing the process and a sampling of some of our REAL successful results.

*Successful Past Results

Some REAL examples include:

  • $54,000 Seized by CBP – $49,000 Returned to our client
  • $50,800 Seized by CBP – $45,800 Returned to our client
  • $39,000 Seized by CBP – $36,500 Returned to our client
  • $37,360 Seized by CBP – $33,500 Returned to our client
  • $31,062 Seized by CBP – $28,562 Returned to our client
  • $16,334 Seized by CBP – $15,334 Returned to our client

Additional blog posts on currency seizures may be found HERE.

Contact us at info@diaztradelaw.com today to discuss your specific case.

CBPSeizuresU.S.Customs

U.S. Customs Seized My Merchandise: Now What?

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog November 3, 2009 46 Comments

cbp-inspection-at-dhlEvery day, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the airports, seaports, and other border crossings, stop, examine, detain, and seize merchandise from both travelers and commercial cargo importers and exporters.  The process of getting back your property can be a harrowing one fraught with bureaucratic delays.  There is, fortunately, a set of rules that U.S. Customs must follow, and knowing those rules will give you an advantage.

Customs officers may examine cargo to look for illegal drugs, counterfeit merchandise, merchandise from a country with which the U.S. has an embargo, food or medical devices not approved by the FDA, or motorcycles not approved by the EPA, just to name a few examples. 

While the cargo is being held by U.S. Customs, it is transferred to a Centralized Examination Station (CES) where the cargo is separated and intensively examined by Customs officers.  U.S. Customs has 35 days from the date of arrival of the cargo in the United States to detain the merchandise for examination.  See 19 CFR 151.16.  During that period of time, it is the obligation of U.S. Customs to advise the importer, its customs broker, and/or customs attorney with an explanation for the detention.  A written Detention Notice stating the specific reason for the detention should be issued by the U.S. Customs officer.

After 35 days, the Customs Regulations require that the cargo must be seized or released.   Unfortunately, this is too often ignored.  The problem is that U.S. Customs must rely upon other Federal agencies to give it advice whether a violation has occurred. For example, if a shipment of  motorcycles is imported from China, but Customs suspects that they may not satisfy the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) safety requirements, digital photographs and paperwork must be sent to EPA officials in Washington, D.C. for review and recommendation.  The communication is not directly from the front line U.S. Customs officer to the EPA attorney.  Instead, it will go through the chain of command which typically involves 5 sets of eyes and hands going up the chain and then down the chain.  35 days pass quickly with so many people handing off to each other.  Hence, despite the 35 day requirement, a determination to release or seize may not be made for 60 or more days after being detained by Customs.  Getting frustrated with or repeatedly calling a particular U.S. Customs officer may not be helpful as s/he may also be waiting for an answer from someone else.  Knowing who to call and when is the key to successfully getting cargo released.

The customs attorney hired to assist the importer needs to know the internal procedures of U.S. Customs as well as the laws and regulations it enforces to identify who and when to speak to a Customs officer or other U.S. Government official.  Getting involved early in the detention process is one of the best ways to assist Customs in identifying whether or not there is a violation, and avoiding a seizure or other negative action by U.S. Customs.   For example, if the product is a suspected counterfeit, showing an Import Specialist the license from Bluetooth or Apple could avoid a lengthy, expensive, and totally unnecessary seizure process with U.S. Customs.   Getting a Licensing Officer from the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C. to speak directly with the U.S. Customs officer on the Anti-Terrorism Trade Enforcement Team (AT-TET) to clarify any suspected discrepancy in the terms of the export license could avoid an unnecessary seizure.

If a violation does occur, the merchandise will be seized by U.S. Customs. The merchandise is then transported by U.S. Customs from the CES to a Seized Property warehouse.  The merchandise will remain in the warehouse until it is authorized to be released by Customs, and the warehouse is paid its storage fees.

Once the merchandise is seized, the file is forwarded by the U.S. Customs officer to the Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures Office (FP&F).  The FP&F paralegal reviews the file and prepares a formal, written Seizure Notice. The Seizure Notice is mailed to the alleged violator.  My standard operating procedure is to notify FP&F of my representation of an importer or exporter whose goods have been seized by Customs so that the Seizure Notice is forwarded to me directly. The Seizure Notice will identify what and where the cargo was seized, as well as the legal basis for the seizure. See 19 CFR 162.31(b)

Once a Seizure Notice is received, the “violator” is provided 30 days to file a Petition with Customs.  The Petition is the means by which the owner of the cargo may seek to persuade U.S. Customs to release the seized shipment.  The Petition may argue that a violation did not really occur, or that there was a violation, however, there were mitigating factors in favor of releasing the cargo.  The Petition should follow the guidelines set forth by U.S. Customs in 19 CFR Part 171.  U.S. Customs also published a very helpful handbook about seizure case processing.

Eventually, U.S. Customs will either grant and release the seized merchandise, or deny the Petition and not release the seized merchandise.  A Supplemental Petition or Offer in Compromise may then be submitted to U.S. Customs.

In summary, the administrative petition process with U.S. Customs can be a long one, however, there are a few key points to keep in mind:

1) Be as careful as possible to be sure imported merchandise complies with all relevant laws and regulations applicable to the particular product;

2) If U.S. Customs detains your products, contact a knowledgeable customs attorney or customs broker to actively demonstrate that there is no violation;  and

3) If U.S. Customs seizes your products, make sure your customs attorney knows the policies, procedures, and practices of U.S. Customs to pursue the release of the merchandise.

For more information about the seizure process, a video describing the process, and a REAL copy of a SEIZURE NOTICE, click HERE.

Contact us at info@diaztradelaw.com today to discuss your specific case.