Help! CBP seized our cash even though each of us only carried $6,000.

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We often hear from our clients that Customs seized their cash even though they were carrying less than $10,000. The typical scenario is a couple traveling overseas. The husband is carrying $6,000 in cash and the wife carries another $6,000 in cash. To most people, this appears to not violate the $10,000 reporting rule, right?

Unfortunately, it’s wrong. In the eyes of Customs, this is “structuring”. Structuring is when a person has divided more than $10,000 upon import or export of money or equivalent to avoid reporting. The law against structuring is found under 31 USC Section 5316.

We all know air travel is stressful, but next time, be sure to just report all the currency you have with you over $10,000. The cash is not taxed and reporting the money will ultimately save you time and stress. Cash seizures at airports will take several hours and you will more than likely miss your flight, or your connecting flight and the important events you have planned at your destination.

It is important to note that structuring still applies even if it is done over several days, weeks or months and structuring still applies regardless of the form of the money (whether it is in cash, travelers checks, or other monetary instruments).

So what are the penalties for currency seizures?
There are both civil and criminal penalties for structuring currency, it all depends on the circumstances of the seizure. The money can be seized, forfeited, and you may be  fined, or face additional criminal penalties if there is a pattern of illegal activity over a year long period.

Additionally, once you are in the Customs database and have a record for one currency seizure, each entry and exit to and from the US may result in heightened scrutiny from CBP.

NEED HELP?
If you or someone you know has faced a currency seizure for structuring or a cash seizure for failure to declare, contact experienced money seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

CBP in Georgia intercept “first-in-port” insects.

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Mottled tortoise beetle (Image via Wikipedia)

U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Savannah intercepted the pigeon tick, straight-snouted weevil and tortoise beetle in containers destined for Georgia.

These insects are known as “first-in-port” because the pests have never been encountered at a specific port of entry.

In January, CBP agriculture specialists at the Port of Savannah inspected tile and stone on shipments arriving from Turkey and Italy and discovered these potentially harmful insects.

This inspection was just one of the over 3.85 million twenty-foot container equivalent units of cargo processed yearly by the Port of Savannah, the second-largest on the East Coast.

If your imports have been seized due to containing pests, call experienced Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate assistance, 832-896-6288, or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

What is a “US Purchaser Questionnaire” from the International Trade Commission?

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Many of our clients who have been in business for multiple decades call our office regarding their receipt of an “US Purchaser Questionnaire” from the US International Trade Commission (ITC).

If you or your company receives this questionnaire (usually by email), it means the ITC is in the final phase of their anti-dumping/countervailing duty investigation. The responses from US Purchasers are then used to determine if the US industry is harmed or has the potential to be harmed by these importations.

It is important to respond to these questionnaires as the ITC has subpoena power and the ability to compel the submission of records and information for any purchaser who does not respond. To make replying more convenient, questionnaire responses can be sent back to the ITC online (usually through Dropbox).

If you or someone you know has received one of these questionnaires and has any questions about completing the questionnaire – or any questions about anti-dumping and countervailing duties, contact experienced attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288, dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

Final version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal released.

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According to February 20th Reuters article, the remaining 11 members of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) have finalized the trade pact set to be signed in Chile on March 8th. After signing, the trade deal provisions will take effect at the end of 2018 or the first half of 2019.

Reports indicate the final version removes or changed 20 provisions regarding intellectual property that were originally included by the United States. Also known as “TPP-11”, the remaining parties believe the trade pact will benefit all members economically across all job sectors. The 11 member countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Check back here for more updates. If you have any trade or customs law questions, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

CBP seizes ancient artifacts for repatriation.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) news release, CBP officers at Miami International Airport (MIA) seized two shipments containing suspected ancient artifacts.

The first shipment from the United Kingdom was a wooden cargo container with a manifest indicating a value of $252,000. When CBP opened the container they found a helmet appearing to be an ancient artifact. An expert appraiser determined the helmet to be an authentic “Corinthian Helmet” dating back to 100-500 B.C.

The second seizure was from El Salvador containing 13 artifacts of Mayan origin.

While not frequently mentioned in the press, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for investigating the loss or looting of cultural heritage properties and returning them to their country of origin. CBP works with ICE to ensure the repatriation rules are followed.

If you or someone you know has had artifacts seized, call experienced customs seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288, or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com for a free consultation.

Customs posts Interim ACE Drawback Guidance online.

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On February 5, 2018, Customs posted the draft version of the new “Drawback: Interim Guidance for Filing TFTEA Drawback Claims”.

Starting February 24, 2018, filing drawback claims can be done electronically within the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE). The interim rules published on the Customs website here will be effective during the “interim period”, starting February 24, 2018 until February 23, 2019.

For the next one year period ending February 23, 2019, drawback claims can still be filed (1) manually, (2) Core-ACE or (3) TFTEA-Drawback.

However, after February 24, 2019, all TFTEA-Drawback claims must be filed electronically in ACE.

If you have any drawback questions or questions about how to file claims during the interim period, contact experienced customs attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

What is the Customs and Border Protection “Donations Acceptance Program”?

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Short answer – a change to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 allowed CBP and the US General Services Administration to accept real and personal property, money and non-personal services from the private and public sectors. Accepted donations may be used for port of entry construction, alternations, operations and maintenance activities.

According to a February 15, 2018 Customs media release, Proctor and Gamble (P&G) will donate testing devices to CBP officers and trade specialists to assist in determining the legitimacy of the P&G product in an attempt to reduce counterfeit goods entering the US marketplace.

The media release did not specify the type of testing device; however, the testing devices may be related to a 2014 patent filed by P&G for a chemical test kit to test for the presence of active components and qualities of the product that may be missing from counterfeits.

The DAP from P&G may be related to last year’s counterfeit Tide laundry detergent being sold in Austin, Texas at a price far below retail value. The low cost of the product and packaging written in Vietnamese may have been indications of the counterfeit nature of the Tide detergent.

If your imported P&G products have been seized by Customs, contact your experienced customs seizure attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP seizes a combined total of $124k in unreported currency from travelers at Dulles airport.

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Last week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seizure of three currency reporting violations resulted in a total seizure of over $124,000. The three violations included:

1. CBP seizure of $83,093 from a traveler to Ghana
2. CBP seizure of $23,082 from travelers arriving from Colombia
3. CBP seizure of $18,519 from a traveler to Pakistan

As you may or may not know, any traveler entering or departing the US must declare $10,000 or more in currency or monetary instruments. A common misconception among travelers is any declared value will be taxed – however, CBP will NOT tax any money reported. CBP will however, seize all unreported currency or monetary instruments over $10,000.

If you have had your hard earned money seized by customs while entering or departing the United States, call experienced money seizure attorney, David Hsu for immediate help – 832.896.6288, or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Highlights from CBP’s FY2017 Trade and Travel Report.

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Screenshot of the FY2017 CBP Trade and Travel Report

CBP released their “Trade and Travel” fiscal year 2017 report on February 13, 2018 and here are a few highlights from the report:

1. CBP officers processed more than 397.2 million travelers at the air, land, and sea ports of entry in 2017
2. Arriving air travelers has increased each year since FY2009 with 4.2 percent more air arrivals over FY2016
3. CBP collected $40.1 billion in duties, taxes and fees in FY2017
4. Automated processing at airports has increased from 3.3% in FY2013 to over 50% in FY2017
5. CBP processed $2.39 trillion in imports
6. CBP processed 33.2 million entries and more than 28.5 million cargo containers
7. Shipments violating intellectual property rights increased by 8% in FY2017 to 34,143 seizures
8. Establishment of the E-Commerce and Small Business Branch within the Office of Trade in FY2017

The full text of the report can be found here.

If you have any import, export, customs or trade law questions, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com

CBP seizes fake perfume valued over $31 million.

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In the past few months, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers and import specialists in the seaport at Los Angeles have seized over 475,000 bottles of imported perfume bearing counterfeit trademarks. While the cost of the counterfeit perfumes may be low, if genuine, CBP estimates the MSRP of the seized perfumes to retail over $31 million.

CBP’s fiscal year starts October 1, 2017 and since then, CBP officials in Los Angeles have seized 11 shipments with suspected counterfeit marks along with confusingly similar fragrances. As you are aware, CBP enforces the trademarks for companies registered with CBP. The seizues included violations of trademarks belonging to over 34 perfume brands.

According to the CBP news release, the “counterfeit brands included Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Calvin Klein, Chanel, Coach, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Guess, Hugo Boss, Lacoste, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Versace, Victoria Secret, and Perry Ellis among others.”

As a general rule, if you purchase perfume at prices “too good to be true”, it is likely the item is counterfeit. The news release indicates the counterfeit perfumes were packaged in boxes and colors resembling the genuine items with fake country of origin markings (“Made in France”) even though the port of origin was China.

CBP is especially vigilent in seizing suspected counterfeit perfumes as these items are placed on the skin and absorbed by the body – counterfeit perfumes may be composed of chemicals harmful to the body and may be made and sold without any product testing.

In FY 2016, CBP seized over $1.4 billion worth of counterfeit goods – if you have had your imports seized and want to speak to an experienced attorney, call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com for immediate assistance.