Effectively guiding importers through the maze of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) regulations is an integral part of our international trade practice. The firm's Washington, D.C. location is advantageous for interacting swiftly and effectively at CBP headquarters for resolving the varied types of customs issues clients face.
We assist clients with a wide range of customs matters including:
- Classification - With more than 10,000 tariff rate lines and more than 17,000 reporting lines in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States, the classification of imported goods is exceptionally complex. In cases where an issue is raised by the Customs Service, we represent the company's interests at both the administrative and judicial levels.
- Textiles - The rules of origin and classification and the resulting rates of duty, as well as the quota/visa status of textile merchandise, are extremely complex by themselves. Add to that mixture the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Sub-Saharan African and Caribbean Basin initiatives, the application of the Generalized System of Preferences, 40 plus international bilateral agreements, and other duty and/or quota reduction programs, and the result is a maze of laws and regulations that must be applied. We have the expertise to advise clients fully on how to achieve the optimum status available for their goods and to avoid problems with CBP.
- Customs Rulings - We monitor the thousands of rulings which CBP issues each year on cases involving highly technical matters.
- Compliance Audits - We evaluate books and records in order to conform to CBP procedures and avoid Customs penalties.
- Drawback - Drawback is a refund of 99% of all ordinary customs duties and internal revenue taxes. We show U.S. manufacturing clients how to compete in foreign markets without the handicap of including in their costs, and consequently in their sales price, duty paid on imported merchandise.
- Exporters - U.S. companies are increasing efforts to expand their competitive share of the international trade market. With international agreements in classification and valuation of merchandise, preferential trade agreements, and the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, our assistance can be invaluable in making goods more competitive in foreign markets.
- Informed Compliance - Under the Customs Modernization Act it is incumbent upon Customs to inform importers of their legal responsibilities. Likewise, it is the responsibility of the importer to use "reasonable care" in transacting business with CBP. This means the importer must take some action to ascertain his legal obligations. Advice from experienced counsel will normally constitute "reasonable care."
- Penalty Matters - CBP has settled commercial fraud cases worth millions of dollars. Once a problem arises there are various decisions that have to be made in order to avoid penalties. A client should be advised whether to file a prior disclosure, make an offer in compromise or use the normal mitigation guidelines.
Specific Benefits to Clients:
Our lawyers have an extraordinary depth of experience in the area of customs law. We know the specialized procedures and requirements of CBP and maintain an excellent working relationship with the field offices and its headquarters office. When required, we also litigate matters in the Court of International Trade and before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.