U.S. Customs Fines, Penalities and Liquidated Damages
Customs penalties and claims for liquidated damages financially cripple many importers and other members of the international trade community. In order to deter non-compliance, U.S. Customs will regularly assess monetary fines or penalties against an individual or entity for violating U.S. international trade laws. Additionally, when an importer or other entity breaches the terms of their Customs bond, U.S. Customs could assess what is commonly known as liquidated damages.
U.S. Customs regulations (19 CFR) allow parties to file for cancellation or substantial reduction of a penalty or claim for liquidated damages, through an administrative action known as a petition. A successful cancellation or severe reduction of a penalty requires complex legal arguments and a comprehensive understanding of federal law.
The Davidson Law Group can guide you through the administrative process of petitioning a penalty or claim for liquidated damages. Please call the Davidson Law Group for a free consultation and our dedicative team can discuss the procedures and measures for cancelling or seriously reducing your penalty or claim for liquidated damages.
U.S. Customs Protest
If you disagree with a decision made by U.S. Customs or want to correct information on a previously filed import entry, corrective action may still be available, however, these options depend on whether or not the import entry liquidated, meaning closed out by CBP.
Once liquidation has occurred, the only option available is to file a protest. 19 U.S.C. 1514 (Protest) provides the legal vehicle for importers and interested parties to administratively contest U.S. Customs' decisions related to imported merchandise. Within 180 days of liquidation, the importer, their broker, or attorney, can contest U.S. Customs decisions relating to imported merchandise with a protest under section 514 of the Tariff Act of 1930.
Call the Davidson Law Group for a free consultation and allow our dedicated attorneys to review your entry documentation for mistakes that may warrant the filing of an administrative protest and show you that you may even qualify for a duty refund.
U.S. Customs Intellectual Property Rights
Goods that are seized and forfeited as bearing a mark that is a counterfeit of a registered trademark, piratical of a registered copyright, or imported in violation of distribution rights agreements are routinely destroyed, unless the owner of the trademark/copyright gives permission for other disposition, such as charitable donations. Significant monetary penalties may also be assessed for violations involving the importation of goods bearing counterfeit marks.
If you receive a U.S. Customs notice indicating that your imported product may be in violation of the intellectual property rights of another company, call the Davidson Law Group for a free consultation and allow our dedicated team to discuss the proper corrective and administrative actions.
U.S. Cutoms Tariff Classification
Pursuant to the Customs Modernization Act, it is now the responsibility of the importer of record to use “reasonable care” to “enter,” “classify” and “value” the goods and provide any other information necessary to enable U.S. Customs to assess the correct duties, collect accurate statistics, and determine whether all other applicable legal requirements are met.
Classifying goods is important not only for duty purposes, but also to determine whether the goods are subject to quotas, restraints, embargoes or other restrictions. The act of classifying goods requires an importer to be familiar with the Harmonized Tariff Schedule.
The importer will frequently rely on an inexperienced entry clerk to classify their merchandise or to verify that all other applicable legal requirements are met, while preparing the Customs import entry. Any misclassification and other mistakes with preparing the U.S. Customs entry could easily trigger more scrutiny, delayed releases, or even a regulatory audit. Reliance on an entry clerk is not a mitigating factor when U.S. Customs decides to penalize the importer.
Call the Davidson Law Group for a free consultation and allow our dedicated attorneys to review up to three sets of your entry documentation. During your free consultation, we will review you documents to determine whether your broker used the proper classification. If the Davidson Law Group finds that your broker used the improper classification, then our dedicated attorneys can advise on how to take corrective and administrative action in order to avoid the assessment of possible monetary fines.
U.S. Customs Prior Disclosure
Entering merchandise into the United States and communicating with U.S. Customs or other government agencies require advanced understanding of regulatory law. Due to heavy competition between importers and their wholesaler counterparts, the increasing desire for cheap customs clearance services push many brokers to lower clearance costs by inundating inexperienced entry clerks with voluminous entries.
Unfortunately, the importer, not the entry clerk or customs broker will be liable for failure to use reasonable care to enter, classify and determine the value of imported merchandise, or failure to provide any other information necessary to enable U.S. Customs to properly assess duties, collect statistics and determine if any other applicable legal requirements have been met.
Inexperience leads to regulatory violations, so please don’t wait for U.S. Customs to send you a penalty in the mail.
Call the Davidson Law Group for a free consultation and allow our dedicative team to discuss prior disclosure with you, also known as Customs’ proactive avenue for importers seeking to minimize a potential penalty by finding the violation and disclosing it early.
U.S. Customs Seizures and Forfeitures
Property may be "seized" for violations of the U.S. Customs and international trade laws. In a seizure, U.S. Customs or a government official from another agency takes physical possession of the merchandise or other article, such as a vehicle, vessel or aircraft.
Types of seized merchandise and infractions include:
Prohibited merchandise (e.g., controlled substances, pornography, counterfeit goods, etc.);
Restricted merchandise (e.g., restrictions imposed by textile quota agreements, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Foreign Assets Control, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration/USDA, etc.);
Undeclared, unreported or smuggled merchandise (e.g., goods undeclared by passengers entering the U.S., unreported currency over $10,000, etc.); and goods which aid or facilitate the illegal importation of merchandise (e.g., conveyances or merchandise used to hide or conceal illegal goods).
In the case of goods or other property subject to administrative forfeiture, a Notice of Seizure is sent to known parties having an interest in the seized property, which advises them of their options.
If you receive a seizure notice, please call the Davidson Law Group and allow our dedicative attorneys to go over your options for securing a favorable outcome.