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Customs Broker

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Missed DTL’s seminar on AD/CVD with CBP? Here’s a re-cap.

posted by Jennifer Diaz May 11, 2017 0 comments

Yesterday we at DTL had the pleasure of hosting Part 1 of 2 of our Seminar Series for Compliance Professionals. In celebration of #WorldTradeMonth the first seminar concentrated on Antidumping Duties and Countervailing Duties (AD/CVD) with expert speakers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). While we had a packed room, we have received requests from industry members who were not able to attend asking for a re-cap. You asked so we delivered!

 Here is our re-cap:

The morning kicked off with a networking breakfast where experienced and novice custom brokers, legal counsel, trade consultants, and others were able to engage in meaningful dialogue about overlapping issues they experience in their respective workplaces in dealing with the topic of AD/CVD.

JenThe seminar promptly began at 9:00 am with introductory remarks by our own President, Jennifer Diaz. We had all attendees introduce themselves and include why this seminar was important to attend. We were glad to hear from majority of attendees that their reason for participating was to further their trade education, and CBP wanted to ensure they performed “informed compliance” with the trade community.  One attendee commented with “I’m here to continue to learn as that’s what we [customer brokers] are required to do.” Continue Reading

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BEWARE – Liquidated Damages WILL be Imposed for 10+2 Violations

posted by Jennifer Diaz July 18, 2013 0 comments

For those who thought CBP’s “measured and commonsense” approach for those that weren’t fully complying with the Importer Security Filing (ISF or 10+2) rules would last forever, think again!

Effective, July 9, 2013, CBP advised it would start the liquidated damages phase of the Importer Security Filing (ISF) enforcement process. CBP will now make use of the newly activated cargo holds in the Automated Cargo Environment (ACE) system to address non-compliance with the ISF rule. CBP may also withhold the release or transfer of non-compliant ISF shipments at the terminal until the required ISF is filed. For carrier violations of the vessel stow plan requirement, CBP may refuse to grant a permit to unlade the merchandise. Once the ISF data is received and a security assessment is made, additional enforcement actions including a Non-Intrusive Inspection (NII) and/or intrusive exams may be initiated.

Liquidated Damages

CBP may also assess liquidated damages of up to $5,000 per violation for the submission of an inaccurate, incomplete or untimely filing. CBP Dec. 09-26 discusses “Guidelines for the Assessment and Cancellation of Claims for Liquidated Damages for Failure to Comply with the Vessel Stow Plan, Container Status Message, and Importer Security Filing Requirements.”  First violations may be mitigated to $1,000-$2,000 – depending on the presence of aggravating or mitigating factors.  Some mitigating factors for the failure to file a complete, accurate and timely ISF include evidence of progress in the implementation of ISF during the “flexible enforcement period,” small number of violations compared to number of shipments, Tier 2 and 3 C-TPAT status, remedial action….  CBP has advised that “no relief will be granted if CBP determines that law enforcement goals were compromised by the violation.”  Aggravating factors include multiple errors on your ISF!  If you do receive a Liquidated Damages claim, it is important you consult with an expert to file a timely, persuasive Petition to CBP and address all relevant mitigating factors to assure you receive the maximum reduction possible.

What’s ISF Again?

The ISF rules require importers and vessel-operating carriers to provide additional advance trade data on cargo shipments to CBP 24 hours prior to vessel lading, pursuant to Section 203 of the Security and Accountability for Every Port (SAFE Port Act) of 2006.

Importers must report the following 10 data elements on each ISF:

  1. Manufacturer (or supplier) name and address
  2. Seller (or owner) name and address
  3. Buyer (or owner) name and address
  4. Ship-to name and address
  5. Container stuffing location
  6. Consolidator (stuffer) name and address
  7. Importer of record number/foreign trade zone applicant identification number
  8. Consignee number(s)
  9. Country of origin
  10. Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) number

From the carrier, 2 data elements are required:

  1. Vessel stow plan – required for arriving vessels with containers.
  2. Container status messages – required for containers arriving via vessel.

Hence, 10+2!

For shipments consisting entirely of freight remaining on board (FROB) cargo or goods intended to be transported in-bond as an immediate entry or transportation and exportation entry, the following 5 data elements are required:

  1. Booking party name and address
  2. Ship-to name and address
  3. Commodity Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) number
  4. Foreign Port of Unlading
  5. Place of delivery

In order to avoid liquidated damages and untimely delays with your cargo, full ISF compliance is now required.  Since we’re talking compliance, do you have your pre-compliance plan established?  If not… Let’s talk!

If you have any questions on the listed requirements, need assistance with cargo detained as a result of this new enforcement phase, getting your C-TPAT application in ASAP (and getting to Tier 2 quickly!), or any other compliance or enforcement question, please feel free to contact Diaz Trade Law at info@diaztradelaw.com and we would be happy to assist you!

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ACI’s Import Compliance & Enforcement Conference,

posted by Jennifer Diaz May 6, 2013 1 Comment

The American Conference Institute will be having its 8th Import Compliance and Enforcement Conference on June 11, 2013, in Washington DC. The conference will consist of two days full of lectures discussing highly complex U.S. import compliance challenges, along with how to satisfy Canadian and Mexican customs authorities. Unlike previous conferences, this unique event is designed to provide attendees with a comprehensive benchmarking experience, where participants can exchange best practices and lessons learned for 2013 and beyond. Some of the most notable industry experts that will be present are Chrystler, Hershey, Williams-Sonoma, Boeing, IBM, General Electric, Cisco, Tyco and yours truly.

This event is uniquely designed to maximize benchmarking on how to resolve the most complex, pressing import compliance issues affecting the industry. The new program features for 2013 are:

  • Two highly focused sessions on valuation and transfer pricing:
  • ISA member case studies: New and longstanding members speak about their recent experiences, and how to meet ISA requirements.
  • Inside a focused assessment: Lessons learned from recent experiences on how to handle common and unanticipated CBP requests
  • C-TPAT and Foreign Re-Validations: Meeting new expectations for C-TPAT risk assessments, and how the new EU Mutual Recognition Agreement affects importer validation requirements
  • NAFTA, CAFTA, and US-Korea – FTA success stories:
    • The finer points to minimizing duties, fees, taxes, red tape, and proving origin
  • Developing a global strategy for customs classification and tariff engineering.

One of the most notable topics discussed will be broker selection and management. I have the privilege to discuss important aspects within the broker selection and management process such as:

  • Detecting warning signs: How far you need to go in conducting due diligence.
  • Designing a questionnaire for brokers: Assessing the skills, experience, and resources of customs brokers. 
  • Evaluating brokers’ supply chain relationships
  • Quantifying risk factors
  • Communicating compliance expectations and requirements to brokers, and developing guidelines for your brokers
  • Where the importer and broker responsibilities begin and end
  • Incorporating contractual safeguards, including audit mechanisms
  • How to monitor compliance, and what to do if you suspect or discover non-compliance by a broker
  • Auditing foreign brokers, and conducting periodic review sand site visits
  • When and how to terminate the relationship
  • What constitutes customs brokering and business,and how to avoid unintended brokering activities 

The conference will kick-off with discussions about strengthening global trade compliance. Meredith Covey, Director of Customs Operations and Compliance at Williams-Sonoma Inc., will discuss real world issues related to the implementation and monitoring of monitoring a global import compliance program. She will discuss structures, resources, tools, and techniques leading companies are using to implement, manage, and monitor an import compliance program. Following the conclusion of multiple speakers discussing these aspects, a discussion on Canadian customs regulations and enforcement will ensue. Eric Trudel, a Manager of CBSA, will discuss the key concepts and common pitfalls to compliance in Canada. 

The ACI offers my clients and colleagues, and you, my special blog followers, a discounted price to attend the conference on June 11-12. This rate will expire on May 17th.  Contact Adina Schwartz, JD, at 310-295-9789 or A.Schwartz@AmericanConference.com to get your discounted rate!  You don’t want to miss this! 

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Careers for Women in Transportation

posted by Jennifer Diaz February 4, 2013 0 comments

"Be Bold! Women in Transportation" will feature prominent women in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management industry. The purpose of the event is to inform about career opportunities and attract women and minorities to the transportation industry. 

I’m thrilled to moderate this event where you’ll hear from top notch keynote speakers, Michelle Livingstone, VP of Supply Chain/Transportation at The Home Depot and Natalie Putnam, VP of Marketing at Ryder.

Join us to learn answers to the following questions:

  1. Why aren’t more women choosing Supply Chain/Transportation as a career?
  2. How will jobs in Supply Chain/Transportation evolve over the next few years?
  3. What does the logistics function look like within a manufacturing/distribution business? 
  4. How have energy prices affected the Transportation Industry?
  5. What impact does the changing demographics of the US have on opportunities for women in the supply chain field?

  6. What is the role of sales and marketing in supply chain, logistics and transportation?

  7. What is changing in business culture and what do  companies need to do to acquire talent?

  8. What are the skills needed to be successful in the field of logistics today?

  9. Why is a career in supply chain a good choice? 

The cost of luncheon is $30 in advance and $40 at the door. Click HERE to register. 

For more information contact Jorge Guerra.

 

Customs Broker

Customs Broker License Denial for Poor Credit History

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog January 8, 2012 1 Comment

Hundreds of people apply every year to become a customs broker. Customs brokers are licensed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The process requires passing a rigorous multiple choice examination, and then passing a background investigation.  For many applicants who successfully pass the examination, they are denied a license because the background investigation revealed a poor credit history and rating. 

Although the application to be a customs broker is submitted to the local port, the decision letter granting or denying a broker license is issued by Allen Gina, Assistant Commissioner, Office of International Trade, CBP Headquarters in Washington, D.C.  A typical denial letter would state:

After careful evaluation of the information obtained from the background investigation, we must deny your application due to your financial history.

The denial letter always cites the CBP regulation at 19 CFR 111.16 – a failure to establish the business integrity and good character of the applicant.  Fortunately, the letter also cites 19 CFR 111.17 which provides the right of appeal of the denial of the customs broker license.

The appeal must be filed, in writing, and submitted to Mr. Gina no later than 60 days from the date of the denial letter. The appeal must persuasively argue why the applicant has business integrity and good character.  For example, if the applicant went through a divorce, and the former spouse failed to pay certain bills which negatively affected the applicant’s credit history and rating, that is an important fact that must be argued, and documented, in the appeal.  

There are numerous reasons why CBP may legitimately deny a customs broker license to an applicant who has a spotty financial history. Similarly, there are numerous reasons to explain to CBP that despite what appears to be a questionable financial history, the applicant has business integrity and good character, and should still receive the customs broker license.

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NATIONAL CUSTOMS BROKERS AND FORWARDERS CONFERENCE

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog April 15, 2010 0 comments

The annual conference of the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) just concluded in San Antonio, Texas. Several prominent speakers from U.S. Customs, the Federal Maritime Commission, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Bureau of Industry and Security, the Office of Foreign Assets Control, Transportation Security Administration, and the Department of Homeland Security discussed new policies and procedures that every customs broker and international freight forwarder should use to serve their import and export clients.

Deputy Commissioner for U.S. Customs, David Aguilar, used a new talking point in his repeated use of the phrase "protect the American way of life" which apparently has replaced "protect the border" in his description of the mission of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.  U.S. Customs Senior Attorney Susan Terranova stated that in 2009, Customs had issued over 500 penalties against exporters and freight forwarders for failing to file timely or accurately complete Automated Export System (AES) filings. Each penalty was issued in the amount of $10,000.

Marc Rossi, Branch Chief, Certified Cargo Screening Program, Air Cargo Division, TSA, stated that there are 98 foreign flagged airlines that fly into the United States, over 4,000 indirect air carriers (IACs), 52 independent cargo screening facilities, and only 403 IACs certified by the TSA as Certified Cargo Screening Facilities (CCSF), in preparation for the August 1, 2010 100% screening of air cargo aboard passenger aircraft in the United States.  More information about the implementation of the 100% screening rule is available at www.tsa.gov/ccsp

Along with Brandon Fried, Director, Air Forwarders Association, I lectured at the NCBFAA Conference about Export Compliance for Freight Forwarders.  The focus of my presentation was on exactly how to mitigate penalties once a Proposed Charging Letter, Pre-Penalty Notice, or Notice of Proposed Penalty has been issued by BIS, OFAC, or TSA.  The Power Point presentation is available only upon request.

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Customs Brokers Under Investigation by U.S. Customs

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog February 12, 2010 0 comments

With all of the complexities involved in the import process, even customs brokers can make mistakes such as by providing the wrong tariff classification of the imported item to U.S. Customs and Border Protection .  A customs broker who makes such a mistake may become the subject of an investigation by U.S. Customs which ultimately results in a $30,000 penalty against the broker.

Customs brokers are often the best choice for importers to take care of all the formalities in clearing imported cargo through U.S. Customs, however, a customs broker who makes a mistake when declaring certain information to U.S. Customs may put  the importer at risk of being accused  of  fraud by U.S. Customs in violation of 19 U.S.C. 1592.  Increasingly often, the customs broker may itself be investigated  by U.S. Customs for failing to exercise responsible supervision and control in violation of 19 U.S.C. 1641.

It is standard practice for U.S. Customs to demand that the broker appear before the Broker Compliance Unit of U.S. Customs at the local port of entry to answer questions about the mistakes discovered by Customs regarding a particular importer or set of entries.  The broker is usually directed to bring with him/her certain documents for review by U.S. Customs at the meeting.  The broker may be accompanied by an attorney during this informal stage of the investigation. The customer of the customs broker, the importer, is generally not made aware by U.S. Customs that its customs broker has been summoned to a meeting with Customs for a counseling session.

If the U.S. Customs personnel are not satisfied with the answers by the broker at the meeting, U.S. Customs will issue a Notice of Pre-Penalty against the broker. The penalty may be up to $30,000. The broker will have 30 days to file a written petition, and request an oral presentation.  A lawyer who is an expert in customs law and procedure should be involved to advise and represent the broker to attempt to get the penalty canceled or mitigated.  The guidelines of what to say in such a Petition are set forth in an Appendix  C to Part 171 of the Customs Regulations.  U.S. Customs personnel must consider a certain set of factors before determining that the customs broker failed to exercise reasonable care and “responsible supervision and control”.  Every customs broker should read, the U.S. Court of International Trade decision issued on January 28, 2010 in the case of United States v. UPS Customhouse Brokerage, Inc.. for a better understanding of both a customs brokers’ and U.S. Customs’ rights and responsibilities.

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A Victory for All Customs Brokers

posted by Customs & International Trade Law Blog August 18, 2009 1 Comment

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit just issued an important decision that will help all customs brokers who are facing a broker penalty action pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1641 and 19 CFR Part 111.  The Court held that U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) must consider all ten factors specifically identified at 19 CFR 111.1 when determining whether or not to mitigate a penalty issued by CBP against a customs broker for failing to excercise "responsible supervision and control."  CBP had argued to the Court that it only needed to consider those factors it thought were relevant.  The Court disagreed with CBP, and reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of International Trade. The Court stated:

"Because Customs did not consider all ten factors listed in 19 CFR 111.1, its determination that UPS violated 19 U.S.C. 1641 was improper. Accordingly, we vacate that portion of he Court of International Trade’s judgment and remand for further proceedings."

So, even though the Court determined that UPS was wrong in its tariff classification of imported merchandise, and even though UPS paid CBP $15,000 in penalties for failing to exercise responsible supervision and control, it remains to be seen whether CBP will assess another $75,000 in penalties against UPS.   My guess is that CBP will pursue the remaining penalties against UPS which were also for alleged misclassification of the same merchandise on different entries.  The Court required CBP to at least consider all ten factors, but also explicitly stated that CBP has the discretion to weigh each of the factors as it deems appropriate in determining whether to mitigate a penalty against a customs broker.

If CBP does pursue the penalties, no doubt UPS will challenge them, especially because another remaining legal question will be whether the CBP regulation at 19 CFR 111.91 which limits penalties to a maximum of $30,000 will apply.  That is another issue of importance to all licensed customs brokers. If interested, please read the complete Federal Circuit decision.