Monthly Archives

January 2010


Yes, You May Legally Import Counterfeit Merchandise into the United States

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 24, 2010 11 Comments


My friends tell me one of their favorite activities in China is to buy counterfeit items such as Gucci handbags or Montblanc pens. My friends do worry about U.S. Customs and Border Protection (U.S. Customs) officers looking through their luggage upon arrival at an airport in the United States, seizing the counterfeit items, and fining them.  The truth is that U.S. Customs allows the importation of counterfeit merchandise, but closely follow the rules as I explain them to you now.

First, know that it is generally illegal to import counterfeit merchandise into the United States.  The word “counterfeit” is defined in the Lanham Act at 15 U.S.C. 1124, and the U.S. Customs applicable law allowing for the seizure of counterfeit merchandise is 19 U.S.C. 1526.  That law gives your friendly U.S. Customs officers who are waiting for you at the airport the authority to look through your luggage, and seize counterfeit merchandise from you.  The U.S. Customs regulations at 19 CFR Part 133 give more specific guidelines to travelers interested in this topic.

What the readers of this blog, and even many U.S. Customs officers, do not know is that it is perfectly legal for a person who visits China, or any other foreign country, to buy counterfeit merchandise there, including one counterfeit Gucci bag and one counterfeit Montblanc pen, declare it on the U.S. Customs declaration form, pass through U.S. Customs, and enjoy using the counterfeit items in the United States.   Of course, you generally get what you pay for, so the $2,000 Gucci bag that you purchased in China for $80 may not be such a bargain, but it can be a lot of fun to shop at a Chinese flea market, and compare the purchased products to the genuine items at your local U.S.-based retail store, or so I am told.

According to Customs Directive No. 2310-011A dated January 24, 2000, “Customs officers shall permit any person arriving in the United States to import one article, which must accompany the person, bearing a counterfeit, confusingly similar, or restricted gray market trademark, provided that the article is for personal use and not for sale.”  Moreover, the Directive states that “Customs officers shall permit the arriving person to retain one article of each type accompanying the person.”

Now, don’t go crazy trying to bring too much counterfeit stuff into the United States at once. There are many restrictions.  You can only bring counterfeit stuff in every 30 days, it must “accompany” you which means no FedEx, UPS, or DHL packages, and it is only applicable to “one article of each type” which means, for example, if you attempt to bring in two counterfeit Gucci bags, they both will be seized by U.S. Customs. And “personal use” means for you the traveler only; no counterfeit gifts for your friends and family.

Finally, please don’t waste the U.S. Customs officer’s time attempting to explain to him that the fancy watches you purchased are marked “Rolexx” so they are not counterfeiting the Rolex trademark because of the different spelling, or that you did not know that importing counterfeit merchandise was illegal, because now you have read this blog post from “Your Customs Expert”.

Just in case you do bring in one too many counterfeit products, there is an administrative process to challenge all seizures made by U.S. Customs, as described in a previous blog post.


Upcoming OWIT-South Florida Networking Opportunity You Must Attend

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 13, 2010 1 Comment

On January 27, 2010 you will have the opportunity to meet the new Board of Directors for the Organization of Women in International Trade’s South Florida Chapter.   OWIT-South Florida is a networking and educational organization that promotes women and men in international trade and commerce.

As the incoming President to this group of distinguished professionals in international business, I’ll admit I’m biased, but, I do have say, this is a great group to get to know.  We have representation on our Board from Adobe, C.H. Robinson, Kroll, Robertson Forwarding, UPS, and Mastercard, to name a few.  Meet us personally at my law firm, Becker & Poliakoff’s Coral Gables office at 121 Alhambra Plaza, 10th Floor, on January 27th, from 6-8 p.m. You will be glad you did.

Put on your calendar these must attend events:

  • February 17, 2010 – Are You "Women Certified?" Delia Passi, founder of Broward-based Women Certified, talks about her company’s mission to teach companies, especially sales people, how to sell to and retain female consumers.
  • March 24, 2010 – Crisis? What Crisis? If your firm faces a reputational tsunami, call the "trouble valet."  Judy Miller, CEO, JM Advisory and former Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist, explains how she helps companies in stressful situations avoid reputational meltdown.
  • November 2, 2010 – Hear Donna Shalala, President, University of Miami,  former Secretary of Health and Human Services under the Clinton Administration, speak at our annual International Business Women of the Year (IBWOY) awards.

Get Involved!  Join one of our several committees.  Reach out to our Committee Chairs to learn more.

Join OWIT-South Florida on Linked In as well and start a discussion – let us know what you’d like to see with OWIT-South Florida in 2010!

I look forward to making membership in OWIT-South Florida a worthwhile and fun experience. If you ever have questions, comments or program ideas, I am always interested in your feedback,and want to make sure this organization is a valuable asset to everyone involved. Please feel free to contact me directly with questions and comments.  See you January 27th!

Don’t miss out. If you want to network with the movers and shakers of Miami’s international trade scene, you must attend OWIT-South Florida’s "Meet the New Board" event on January 27, 2010. This is the group that will bring Donna Shalala to you in November, get to know us!

U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

You Ready for 100% Cargo Screening by the TSA?

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 11, 2010 0 comments

In my October 5, 2009 post entitled “TSA’s New Air Cargo Screening Rules Have A Serious Flaw,” I commented on the Air Cargo Screening Interim Final Rule, which created the certified cargo screening program (CCSP).   CCSP authorizes companies other than airlines to be approved by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA ) to screen cargo before it is delivered to an airline at the airport to be put in the belly of a passenger plane. As of February 3, 2009, U.S. airlines and foreign air carriers must have screened at least 50% of its cargo transported on passenger aircraft. That number goes up to 100% as of August 3, 2010.  The problem is that even as August 3, 2010 quickly approaches, the TSA, the International Air Cargo Association (TIACA), and other prominent organizations have warned that the air cargo industry needs to do more to be ready.

On February 8-9, 2010, in Miami, Florida, The National Cargo Security Association ( is hosting a Florida Cargo Security Conference. Speakers include managers of TSA’ Air Cargo Division from its national headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, and TSA managers in Florida, the Director of the Air Forwarders Association, nationally renowned security and legal experts, and an FAA Senior Special Agent who enforces dangerous goods compliance.

Be advised that the air cargo screening rule only applies to (1) air cargo, (2) loaded on board an aircraft in the United States. The Rule also does not apply to all-cargo aircraft (freighters).  However,one of the primary differences between now and August 3, 2010 (when the 100 percent deadlines hits full force) is that the stacked and shrink-wrapped shipments known as ULDs — basically numerous smaller packages stacked and wrapped on pallets for shipments — will have to be broken down so that the packages can be screened individually and then restacked.

TIACA has expressed some of its concerns when it recently stated “to avoid widespread delays, greater participation in the Certified Cargo Screening Program (CCSP) is needed.” An excellent Powerpoint introduction to the TSA’s CCSP is found at theTIACA website.

Shippers, indirect air carriers, airlines, and other persons involved in the international supply chain should attend the Conference to learn more about the air cargo screening requirements.  Consequences of the new 100% screening rule surely will be (1) cargo that is delayed or not shipped at all, and (2) penalties against companies by the TSA for non-compliance.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Importer Security Filing or “10+2”

posted by Jennifer Diaz January 5, 2010 1 Comment

As of January 26, 2010, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will require that all importers comply with the Importer Security Filing (ISF), also popularly known as “10 +2” because of the 10 elements required to be provided to CBP relevant to the importer and 2 elements required to be provided to CBP relevant to the carrier.  CBP has announced that as of January 26, 2010, it will also begin to issue penalties of either $5,000 or $10,000 against importers who fail to comply with ISF; something CBP calls its “enforcement phase”. Importers who self-file ISF, or their agents, must understand the changes, comply with them, and, when a penalty is issued by CBP, respond in writing to mitigate the penalty.

Fortunately, on January 28, 2010, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., the South Florida Chapter of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP), is hosting a seminar entitled “ISF 10+2 Reality Sinks In…What’s Next?”  To register or learn more about CSCMP, click on The impressive panel includes customs brokers, importers, carriers, consultants, an attorney, and Richard DiNucci, Director, Secure Freight Initiative, CBP Headquarters.

As you should know, the ISF is filed via the Automated Broker Interface (ABI) or the Automated Manifest System (AMS), and it is always sent to the Automated Targeting System (ATS) for analysis and review by CBP officials.  Hence, it is obvious that CBP will use the ISF information to target, stop, and examine imported shipments.  Incorrectly or incompletely filing ISF will result in increased delays of imported shipments.  Moreover, CBP has announced that as of January 26, 2010, it will selectively penalize the more severely non-compliant importers, and will only more frequently issue such penalties over time.

On December 24, 2009, CBP amended the Interim Final Rule on November 25, 2008 entitled “Importer Security Filing and Additional Carrier Requirements.” See  The amended rule clarified the ISF Bond Terms for all importers.  Knowing all aspects of this important new rule is necessary for the international trade community.  Click to register.  To learn more about the South Florida Chapter of the CSCMP, please contact a member of the Board of Directors at

Happy New Year to all.