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Trade Compliance

Trade compliance is the process by which goods enter the United States in conformance with all U.S. laws and regulations. It is the goal of the Customs Service to maximize trade compliance while facilitating the importation of legitimate cargo.

While trade compliance is a core business process for Customs, a significant amount of the burden of compliance is placed upon importers. For example, under section 484 of the Tariff Act, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1484), the importer is responsible for using reasonable care to enter, classify and value imported merchandise, and provide any other information necessary to enable Customs to properly assess duties, collect accurate statistics and determine whether any other applicable legal requirements, if any, have been met. The Customs Service is then responsible for fixing the final classification and value of the merchandise. The failure of an importer of record to exercise reasonable care can delay release of the merchandise and, in some cases, result in the imposition of penalties for acting without reasonable care.

The law encourages companies that do not have the requisite skills to ensure compliance with all U.S. rules and regulations to seek the assistance of experts to ensure that these requirements are satisfied.

George R Tuttle Law Offices provides clients the expert assistance necessary to classify and value merchandise, and develop systems and procedures to ensure Customs expectations of informed compliance are met.

Focused Assessments (FA)

A key component of Customs' trade compliance program involves the Focused Assessment. A focused assessment is a detailed review of the company's internal controls for Customs transactions coupled with an audit of selected import transactions. The focus of the assessment is to determine the company's current level of compliance, and whether or not there are sufficient systems are in place to ensure a high level of compliance with Customs laws and regulations for future transactions.

After a focused assessment is conducted, the company is determined to be compliant or non-compliant. If a company is found to be non-compliant, the company will be required to formulate a compliance improvement plan, and tender any revenue found to be owing.

The stakes are often high for a company found to be noncompliance, as Customs continues to measure company compliance through intensive cargo exams on a more frequent, ongoing basis. This process can significantly disrupt a company's "just-in-time" delivery program.

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