Import Definitions

9801:  Section within Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S. (HTSUS) that covers American goods returned.

9802:  Section within HTSUS that covers articles exported for repair or improvement and subsequently reimported.

(a)(1)(A) List:  Pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 1509(a)(1)(A), a Customs-published list of entry information and records that importers are required to maintain.  This list is known as the “(a)(1)(A) list” and may be amended by Customs from time to time.  If an importer fails to produce information or records included on the (a)(1)(A) list in response to a reasonable demand by Customs, Customs may penalize the importer or may liquidate or reliquidate the entries at a higher rate.

Antidumping (AD) and Countervailing Duties (CVD):  Antidumping or countervailing duties may be imposed on certain imported merchandise where the U.S. Department of Commerce determines that the imported merchandise is being sold in the U.S. at less than fair value, that a foreign government is subsidizing the production of the imported merchandise, or the U.S. International Trade Commission determines that sales of the imported merchandise are causing material harm, or threaten to cause material harm, to the relevant U.S. industry.

Assist:  Any of the following items supplied either directly or indirectly free of charge or at a reduced cost by the purchaser of imported merchandise to the foreign seller or producer:

  • Materials, components, parts and similar items for incorporated in the imported merchandise
  • Tools, dies, molds, and similar items used in the production of the imported merchandise
  • Merchandise that is consumed in the production of the imported merchandise
  • Engineering, development, artwork, design work, and plans and sketches that are undertaken elsewhere than in the U.S. and are necessary for the production of the imported merchandise
  • The apportioned value of an assist is part of the Customs value of imported merchandise

Automated Broker Interface (ABI):  An integral part of the Automated Commercial System (ACS) that permits qualified participants to electronically transmit import data/entry summaries directly to Bureau of Customs and Border Protection Data Center.  ABI is designed to use standard technology available to Brokers, importers, port authorities, and data processing companies.

Automated Commercial Systems (ACS):  A multifaceted, modular system that automates hundreds of commercial applications and tasks required for import entry and duty collection by Customs.

Binding Ruling:  A binding ruling is an administrative ruling obtained from Customs that sets forth the interpretation of law applicable to a specific transaction.  A binding ruling is binding only on the party requesting the ruling; however, a binding ruling may provide guidance to other parties as to how Customs can be expected to treat similar transactions.

Carnet:  An international customs document that permits duty-free and tax-free temporary imports of goods for up to one (1) year into multiple countries.

Classification:  The process of assigning the correct definition and category of imported merchandise within the HTSUS classification and valuation are the primary components to determining the amount of duty an importer owes on the imported merchandise, as well as the potential jurisdiction of participating government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration and Federal Communications Commission.  Free Trade Agreement qualification also is based on classification.

Country of Origin:  The country of origin of imported merchandise is normally the country where the merchandise is manufactured or produced.  Further work or material added in a third country prior to importation may change the country of origin, depending on the circumstances and the applicable rules.  U.S. law requires that every imported article or its contained be clearly marked with the name of the country of origin, subject to limited exceptions.  In addition, the country of origin of imported merchandise may determine whether the merchandise is eligible for preferential tariff treatment, whether antidumping or countervailing duties will be assessed, or whether quota is available permitting the merchandise to be entered.  Origin determination for different purposes (North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), origin marking, etc.) will use different rules for each different determination.

Customs Bond:  A financial obligation by the importer, often underwritten by a surety company, which protects the interests of Customs. There are a variety of such bonds, including, for example, single entry bonds for individual entries, continuous bonds covering all shipments for a year, and temporary import bonds which are required to conduct certain Customs transactions for import and subsequent export or destruction. Refer to 19 CFR § 142.4.

Customs Modernization Act:  Often referred to as "the Mod Act". Federal legislation enacted in 1993 that imposed new and extensive compliance and recordkeeping requirements on importers, shifted certain responsibilities for customs compliance from the Government to importers, and imposed a standard of reasonable care on importers.  The Act also imposes new obligations on importers to use reasonable care in classifying and appraising the value of imported merchandise and to maintain certain documents and records pertaining to import transactions.  Refer to Title VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (Pub. L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057).

Customs Value:  Customs value is determined under authority of 19 U.S.C. § 1401a and is used to determine the duty to be paid when the duty is stated as a percentage of value and used as a starting point for trade statistic purposes.  For the material imported, the Customs value is most often the price actually paid or payable for the foreign sourced material in the transaction that caused the material to be exported to the U.S., subject to certain possible subtractions or additions.

Drawback:  A refund of up to 99% of the duties, taxes, and other fees paid on imported merchandise when the merchandise (or designated substituted merchandise) is later exported or, under certain conditions, destroyed.  Drawback may be obtained where the imported merchandise is used in the manufacture of exported merchandise or where the imported merchandise is exported in an unused condition.  A variety of specialized provisions and regulatory requirements govern the U.S. drawback program, and strict compliance with all regulations is normally a prerequisite to obtaining a refund.

Entry:  In a traditional import transaction, the specific Customs form/electronic message used to detail information required by 19 CFR § 142.3 to be filed and the act of filing that document with the appropriate Customs officer to secure the release of imported merchandise from Customs custody.  Delivery, or offer for delivery, of merchandise into the Customs territory of the U.S. from an outside point. The process for getting imported merchandise released from Customs.

Entry/Immediate Delivery Form (CBPF 3461):  An entry/immediate delivery form that allows imported merchandise to be released by Customs prior to the payment of duties and fees.  Importers who use this procedure are required to submit an entry summary (CBPF 7501, Entry Summary) to Customs within ten (10) days of the release.

Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF):  The Water Resources Development Act of 1986 established the HMF, which is a .125% ad valorem port use fee applicable only to the value of commercial cargo unloaded from a commercial vessel at any U.S. deep water port.  The fee does not apply to export shipments, shipments arriving by air, or shipments from the U.S. mainland to Alaska, Hawaii, or any possession of the U.S. (i.e., Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Pacific Trust Territories) and from those areas to the U.S.  The U.S. Supreme Court has determined that the HMF is unconstitutional as applied in certain transactions.

HTSUS:  The statutory list issued by the U.S. Government that is used to categorize imported merchandise. Consisting of ten-digit tariff codes (six digits of which are "harmonized" internationally and four digits which are specific to the U.S.), this system identifies products for classification purposes. Once the classification is determined, the rates of duty, value added tax, quota limits, visa requirements, etc., can be obtained. Refer to 19 USC § 1202.

Importation:  Merchandise physically arriving within the Customs Territory of the U.S. or within the limits of a U.S. port with the intent to unload at that port. The term “importation” is not synonymous with the term “entry”.

Importer of Record (IOR):  The party in whose name the entry is made and who is responsible for ensuring that imported goods are in compliance with all laws affecting the importation and for the payment of all duties, taxes, and fees associated with the entry. While the importer may authorize others to carry out certain tasks such as filing the Customs entry, the IOR holds the bond and is ultimately responsible for the entry. Refer to 19 CFR §§ 101.1 and 141.1.

Importer Security Filing:  Data required to be submitted twenty-four (24) hours prior to lading of cargo for ocean conveyance includes:  seller (owner) name and address, manufacturer (supplier) name and address, country of origin, buyer (owner) name and address, Import of Record (IOR) number, consignee, ship to party, Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) numbers.

Imports:  Articles or products brought into the U.S. or its possessions from foreign countries. Such products may include procurements or returns of U.S. or foreign origin that are being returned to the U.S. or its possessions.

Manufacturer’s Affidavit:  A document that establishes the origin of imported merchandise. CBPF 434, NAFTA Certificate of Origin, may be required in order to obtain preferential tariff treatment, for example, under the NAFTA, and normally must be executed by a party having personal knowledge of the origin of the merchandise.

Merchandise processing Fee (MPF):  An ad valorem user fee is applicable to the value of goods imported into the U.S. and is collected on CBPF 7501. The MPF is currently .21 percent. The fee has a minimum of $25 and is capped at $485 per Customs entry.

PGA:  Participating Government Agency (EPA, FDA, FCC, DOT, etc).

Reasonable Care:  Under the Customs Modernization Act, importers are required to use reasonable care in classifying and appraising imported merchandise and in conducting other business with Customs.  In essence, under the Customs Modernization Act the concept of reasonable care means that importers are expected to be informed about the Customs laws and regulations and to make every reasonable effort to comply with Customs’ instructions.

Royalties:  Royalties are payments of any kind, including payments under technical assistance or similar agreements, made as consideration for the use or right to use any copyright, literary, artistic, or scientific work, patent, trademark, design, model, plan, formula, or process, excluding those payments under technical assistance or similar agreements that are related to specific services (e.g., personnel training).