Customs duties in the United States


Customs duties in the United States

The United States imposes tariffs or customs duties on imports of goods. The duty is levied at the time of import and is paid by the importer of record. Customs duties vary by country of origin and product. Goods from many countries are exempt from duty under various trade agreements. Certain types of goods are exempt from duty regardless of source. Customs rules differ from other import restrictions. Failure to properly comply with customs rules can result in seizure of goods and criminal penalties against involved parties. United States Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) enforces customs rules.

Contents

Import of goods

Goods may be imported to the United States subject to import restrictions. Importers of goods may be subject to tax (“customs duty” or “tariff”) on the imported value of the goods. “Imported goods are not legally entered until after the shipment has arrived within the port of entry, delivery of the merchandise has been authorized by CBP, and estimated duties have been paid.”[1] Importation and declaration and payment of customs duties is done by the importer of record, which may be the owner of the goods, the purchaser, or a licensed customs broker. Goods may be stored in a bonded warehouse or a Foreign-Trade Zone in the United States for up to five years without payment of duties.

Goods must be declared for entry into the U.S. within 15 days of arrival or prior to leaving a bonded warehouse or foreign trade zone. The importer of record declares the transaction value of the goods and country of origin, along with other information. The declarations must include an invoice and packing list (or equivalent) listing all goods. CBP then assesses duty, which must be paid by the importer of record before goods can be released. Many importers participate in a voluntary self assessment program with CBP. Special rules apply to goods imported by mail.

All goods imported into the United States are subject to inspection by CBP.

Some goods may be temporarily imported to the United States under a system similar to the ATA Carnet system. Examples include laptop computers used by persons traveling in the U.S. and samples used by salesmen.

Origin

Rates of tax on transaction values vary by country of origin. Goods must be individually labeled to indicate country of origin, with exceptions for specific types of goods. Goods are considered to originate in the country with the highest rate of duties for the particular goods unless the goods meet certain minimum content requirements. These minimum content requirements may vary under certain trade agreements or special arrangements.[2] Reduced rates of duty apply under these agreements and arrangements for certain classes or subclasses of goods in certain circumstances.[3] Extensive modifications to normal duties and classifications apply to goods originating in Canada or Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Classification

All goods that are not exempt are subject to duty computed according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule published by CBP and the U.S. International Trade Commission. This lengthy schedule[4] provides rates of duty for each class of goods. Most goods are classified based on the nature of the goods, though some classifications are based on use.

Duty rate

Customs duty rates may be expressed as a percentage of value or dollars and cents per unit. Rates based on value vary from zero to 20% in the 2011 schedule.[5] Rates may be based on relevant units for the particular type of goods (per ton, per kilogram, per square meter, etc.). Some duties are based in part on value and in part on quantity. The United States applies a Customs tariff that is among the lowest in the world : 3% on average.[6]

Where goods subject to different rates of duty are commingled, the entire shipment may be taxed at the highest applicable duty rate.[7]

Exemptions

Many categories of goods are subject to zero customs duty. Such goods must still be declared. Some goods and goods from some countries are exempt from duty. These reductions of duty are based on classification and origin.

Procedures

Imported goods are generally accompanied by a bill of lading or air waybill describing the goods. For purposes of customs duty assessment, they must also be accompanied by an invoice documenting the transaction value. The goods on the bill of lading and invoice are classified and duty is computed by the importer or CBP. The amount of this duty is payable immediately, and must be paid before the goods can be imported. Most assessments of goods are now done by the importer and documentation filed with CBP electronically.

After duties have been paid, CBP approves the goods for import. They can then be removed from the port of entry, bonded warehouse, or Free-Trade Zone.

After duty has been paid on particular goods, the importer can seek a refund of duties if the goods are exported without substantial modification. The process of claiming a refund is known as duty drawback.

Penalties

Certain civil penalties apply for failures to follow CBP rules and pay duty. In addition, goods of persons subject to such penalties may be seized and sold by CBP. In addition, criminal penalties may apply for certain offenses. Criminal penalties may be as high as twice the value of the goods plus twenty years in jail.

Foreign-Trade Zones

Foreign-trade Zones are secure areas physically in the United States but legally outside the customs territory of the United States. Such zones are generally near ports of entry. They may be within the warehouse of an importer. Such zones are limited in scope and operation based on approval of the Foreign-Trade Zones Board. Goods in a Foreign-Trade Zone are not considered imported to the United States until they leave the Zone. Foreign goods may be used to manufacture other goods within the zone for export without payment of customs duties.[8]

References

  1. ^ U.S. Customs and Border Protection booklet Importing into the United States (“CBP Booklet”), page 11.
  2. ^ As of January 1, 2011, there were 113 countries eligible for reduced duties under the Generalized System of Preferences, 18 under the Caribbean Basin Initiative, 38 under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Canada and Mexico under multiple sets of rules, and several other countries under country specific rules. Numerous countries are covered under more than one set of special rules for at least some goods. See Harmonized Tariff Schedule cited below.
  3. ^ The requirements for special treatment may be very specific as to the nature of the product and particular country of origin.
  4. ^ The January 2011 edition in .pdf exceeds 3,000 pages, including country-specific rules and annotations.
  5. ^ A higher rate of duty (up to 81%) applies to goods from Cuba or North Korea.
  6. ^ Federation of International Trade Associations, country profile : United States
  7. ^ CBP Booklet, page 24.
  8. ^ CBP Booklet, page 151.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The United States of America —     The United States of America     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► The United States of America     BOUNDARIES AND AREA     On the east the boundary is formed by the St. Croix River and an arbitrary line to the St. John, and on the north by the… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Law enforcement in the United States — Officers from US Customs and Border Protection boarding a ship Law enforcement in the United States is one of three major components of the criminal justice system of the United States, along with courts and corrections. Although there exists an… …   Wikipedia

  • Excise tax in the United States — Excise tax, sometimes called an excise duty, is a type of tax. In the United States, the term excise means: (A) any tax other than a property tax or capitation (i.e., an indirect tax, or excise, in the constitutional law sense), or (B) a tax that …   Wikipedia

  • Extraordinary rendition by the United States — Extraordinary Rendition redirects here. For the 2007 film, see Extraordinary Rendition (film). Extraordinary rendition (or irregular rendition) is the abduction and illegal transfer of a person from one nation to another.[1] Torture by proxy is… …   Wikipedia

  • Title 19 of the United States Code — outlines the role of customs and duties in the United States Code.* Collection Districts, Ports, And Officers * Foreign Trade Zones * The Tariff Commission * The Tariff and Related Provisions * Tariff Act of 1930 * Smuggling * Trade Fair Program… …   Wikipedia

  • Citizenship in the United States — United States citizenship confers the right to acquire a U.S. passport.[1] Citizenship in the United States is a status given to individuals that entails specific rights, duties, privileges, and benefits between the United States and the… …   Wikipedia

  • History of religion in the United States — The religious history of the United States begins more than a century before the former British colonies became the United States of America in 1776.Some of the original settlers were men and women of deep religious convictions. The religious… …   Wikipedia

  • History of the United States Marine Corps — The United States Marine Corps was originally organized as the Continental Marines in 1775 to conduct ship to ship fighting, provide shipboard security and assist in landing forces. Its mission evolved with changing military doctrine and American …   Wikipedia

  • Parliamentarian of the United States House of Representatives — The Parliamentarian of the United States House of Representatives manages, supervises, and administers its Office of the Parliamentarian, which is responsible for advising presiding officers, Members, and staff on procedural questions under the U …   Wikipedia

  • Democratic Caucus Vice-Chairman of the United States House of Representatives — The Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the United States House of Representatives is a leadership position that ranks just below the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus. In addition to other duties, the Vice Chair has a seat on the Steering… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.