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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) continues to be actively engaged in enforcement of importer compliance with all applicable import rules and regulations. There are many areas of compliance that CBP typically focuses on such as:

  • Classification
  • Valuation
  • Record Keeping
  • Quantity
  • Country of Origin
  • Free Trade Agreement Origin
  • Country of Origin Markings
  • Forced Labor (Recently Added Trade Priority)

When CBP wants to validate information related to a product, they will often issue a CBP Form 28 Request for Information. This form will list out the specifics of the request and provide the importer with thirty (30) days to respond. Your import compliance manual should have an area specific to responding to these types of request from CBP.

Recently we have seen an increase of requests specific to Classification and Free Trade Agreement (FTA) origin claims.

  • Classification requests typically require a sample or at minimum pictures, diagrams, marketing materials and/or bill of materials to determine its material, makeup, and use
  • FTA origin eligibility requests can be cumbersome and are typically made pursuant to 19 CFR Section 10. These requests require several documents which may include:
    • Documentation to substantiate the classification
    • Copy of contract
    • Copy of purchase order
    • Proof of payment
    • Statement that there are either no assists or that there are assists and their values have been properly declared
    • Complete name and address of the Importer, Exporter, AND Producer
    • Complete production records including:
      • Pictures of facilities where production is complete
      • Detailed description of production process
      • Date and time production of these articles took place
      • Timecards to validate employees working during that shift
      • Complete list of Bill of Materials including the following:
        • Input item number
        • Input item description
        • Input item country of origin
        • Input item Harmonized Tariff Number
        • Input item value
      • Cutting records for textiles
      • Affidavits to substantiate the inputs required to originate per the rule of origin
      • Copy of receipts for all inputs purchased by outside vendors and affidavits from those vendors validating the origin of the goods
      • List of origin of all raw materials and affidavits that no force labor was used in the harvesting or production of the raw materials.
      • Affidavits for the manufacture of the goods to include all factories that produced the goods.

Understanding that CBP is in enforcement mode is very important, and it is important not to panic if you receive a request for information concerning origin eligibility request for FTA countries such as:

  • USMCA – US Mexico, Canada Free Trade Agreement
  • AUFTA – US Australia Free Trade Agreement
  • AGOA – Africa Growth and Opportunity Act
  • CABERA – Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act
  • CFTA – Chile Free Trade Agreement
  • KFTA – Korean Free Trade Agreement
  • GSP – Generalized System of Preferences
  • CBI – Caribbean Basin Initiative
  • CBTPA – Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act
  • ATP – Andean Trade Preference
  • SFTA – Singapore Free Trade Agreement
  • DRCAFTA – Dominican Republic Central America Free Trade Agreement
  • JFTA – Jordan Free Trade Agreement
  • MOFTA – Morocco Free Trade Agreement
  • BAFTA – Bahrain Free Trade Agreement
  • OMFTA – Oman Free Trade Agreement
  • PEFTA – Peru Free Trade Agreement

Please carefully read through the full request and make sure you understand it. If anything looks unusual, work with the broker, legal counsel, or directly with the Import Specialist who sent the request and ask questions for clarification. The Import Specialists working in the Centers of Excellence and Expertise (CEE) are there to work with the international trade community.

It is important to put a plan in place and be sure to include all those related to this import and request which might include accounting, information technology, engineering, sourcing, purchasing, logistics, and supply chain. Identify the vendors of the product and schedule meetings to review the request and timeline for providing the required information. Once the required information is received, it is important to review all information provided and organize it according to how you want to present it.

CBP has numerous Informed Compliance Publications to assist importers and the trade community in understanding rules of origin including rules for specific trade agreements and commodities such as textile and apparel goods.

Please make sure that if you are claiming FTA, you either already have or can quickly obtain the required documents from your vendors. Additionally, please make sure that your import compliance manuals detail your processes for qualifying goods for FTA and for responding to CBP requests for information.

For more information, please contact your local Noatum Logistics USA representative.