US Customs agents ensure pest-free flowers just in time for Valentine’s Day.

Customs VDay

Source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) press release, Customs’ agriculture specialists are working hard to examine the hundreds of millions of cut flower stems arriving into the US in time for Valentine’s Day later this week. CBP will especially exam cut flower stems to look for plant diseases and plant pests before they enter the United States.

While it is okay to bring flowers and floral arrangements into the US, there are some prohibited plant species that will be used in the arrangement and that all agricultural products are declared.

CBP officers at the Laredo filed office processed 11.3 million cut flower stems from January to February 14th and ranks fifth largest office by volume for cut flower importations nationwide.

If you  have received a notice from Customs or have any further questions, call experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP issues detention order against Tunago No. 61.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, CBP issued a withhold release order against tuna and tuna products from the Tunago No. 61. The basis for the withhold order is information obtained by CBP indicating tuna is harvested with the use of forced labor.

The order is effective immediately starting on the date of issuance – February 6, 2019.

What is a detention order?
Detention orders require detention of entry of tuna and any such merchandise manufactured wholly or in part by the Tunago No. 61. Importers of detained shipments are provided an opportunity to export their shipments or demonstrate that the merchandise was not produced with forced labor.

What is the law on forced labor?
19 U.S.C. § 1307 prohibits the importation into the US of goods made, in whole or in part, by forced labor, including convict labor, forced child labor, and indentured labor. If CBP believes forced labor was used, CBP will issue a “withhold release order”. Most of the orders are a result of information presented to CBP that “reasonably indicates” the imported goods were made with forced labor.

If you have received a notice or are being investigated by CBP for use of forced labor, call experienced trade and customs attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

General Tips for New Importers.

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Importing anything into the US is a trap for the unweary and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP or “Customs”) does not accept “I didn’t know that” as a valid excuse. CBP requires all importers and exporters to be aware of the law before they import or export and as the old saying goes, “ignorance of the law is not an excuse”.

Here are a few tips –
1. You do not need an “import license” to import into the US.
2. You may need a license, certification or permit from other Federal agencies depending on what you want to import.
3. You need an Importer of Record number, typically your IRS business registration number.
4. If you don’t have an IRS business number, you can apply for a number from CBP through Form 5106 (after the shutdown).
5. Consult the Harmonized Tariff Schedule to see how your merchandise will be classified when entering the US.
6. You can get a ruling prior to an importation of merchandise through CBP to ensure proper classifcation and rate of duty.
7. Seek out the assistance of a Customs Broker licensed by CBP. You can find a list of Customs Brokers at your port through the CBP.gov website.

The seven tips above are just the tip of the iceberg of what CBP will require an importer to know. Feel free to give us a call before you begin importing – we’re here to help. Call David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

US ICE seizes million websites in crackdown on

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As reported by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website in late November, ICE agents seized over 1 million copyright-infringing website domain names that sold counterfeit electrical parts, personal care items, automotive parts and other fake and counterfeit goods.

The seizure was part of ICE’s “Operation In Our Sites” and roughly 33,600 website domain names were seized from 26 different countries. The press release indicates that a total of 1.21 million domain names were seized and shut down along with 2.2 million e-commerce links on social media platforms and other third-party marketplaces.

ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) claims counterfeit goods such as counterfeit airbags and sensors pose a potential safety hazard to drivers. In addition to a public safety hazard, counterfeit goods also fund criminal groups and other illegal activities. ICE and HSI are part of the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) center established by the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. The IPR is comprised of 24 member agencies that share information, develop initiatives and conduct investigations.

If you have had your goods seized for alleged intellectual property rights violations, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com for immediate assistance.

Importer Alert – CBP enforcing wood packaging material regulations.

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U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers along with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officers in Houston are strictly enforcing the USDA’s prohibition of non compliant wood packaging material (WPM).

Non compliant materials are typically ordered for immediate exportation along with any associated cargo in the same bill of lading. CBP and USDA officers typically find WPM non compliant if evidence of prohibited live insects is found during inspection. If any invasive species such as a wood boring wasp or other insects and larvae are found during inspection, CBP/USDA will issue an Emergency Action Notice ordering the cargo to typically be exported in 7 days for repackaging and/or fumigation.

A finding of noncompliance will have a detrimental impact on shippers, importers, consignees and the resulting delay in reexportation can cause major problems for time sensitive project cargo.

If you or someone  you know has had a WPM issue with the presence of larvae or living insects or if you  have received an emergency action notice – contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com

CBP and searching your electronic devices.

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According to an Associated Press article, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers searching electronic devices of travelers more often.

A local watchdog report made available today indicated there were 29,000 devices searched in 2017, up from the 18,400 the year before. CBP officials claim the travelers searched represent less than 1 percent of all travelers (ie, 18,400 searches out of 390 million travelers).

In general, travelers are required to hand over their electronic devices for inspection if they are referred to secondary inspection. Secondary inspection is after primary inspection (travel documents and passports). During secondary inspection, CBP may search phones, thumb drives, and computers.

A Office of the Inspector General for Homeland Security report found that some searches were not properly documented or conducted – for example, devices were not taken offline before hand. In general, CBP cannot access your information that is on a cloud network.

Will update again if/when CBP publishes a review process for searching electronic devices of travelers.

If you or anyone you know has had an item detained or seized by CBP, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

$1.7 million in fake Nike shoes seized by CBP.

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According to the CBP media release, CBP officers in New York/Newark seized nearly 9,024 pairs of counterfeit Nike speakers. If genuine Nike products, the total value of the shipment equaled almost $1.7 million dollars.

The shipment of sneakers was from Dongguan City. Dongguan is a city in Guangdong (Canton) Province and borders Shenzhen and Hong Kong. When CBP suspects goods to be counterfeit, CBP will take photos and submit the photos or samples to the trademark holder. In this case CBP’s Apparel Footwear and Textiles Center for Excellence and Expertise sent the images to Nike where the images were determined to represent fake shoes.

The rest of the news release mentions ICE and Homeland Security Investigations will continue to investigate and look into the destination address in Chino, California. Given the value of the funds and the referral to ICE and HSI, it is likely CBP will look further into this shipment and may involve criminal charges for the importer of record.

If you have had your shipment seized on the basis of suspected counterfeit goods, or if you receive a penalty notice or seizure notice, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.comdhsu@givensjohnston.com for immediate assistance.

 

 

CBP finds invasive Egyptian Locusts from Italy.

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Screenshot of the Egyptian tree locust. Source: cbp.gov

In mid-November, agriculture specialists from US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) discovered the Egyptian tree locust in the port of Baltimore. The locusts were found in a shipment of Italian wine. As a result of the finding, CBP had the shipment re-exported back to Italy.

The Anacridium aegyptium, or commonly known as the Egyptian tree locust is a leaf feeder and pest to grapevines, citrus, fruit and other vegetable. While the Egyptian tree locust is common in Europe, it is considered an invasive species in the US.

In addition to invasive pests, CBP’s agriculture specialists also work hard to stop noxious weeds and prevent foreign plant and animal diseases from entering the US.

If CBP finds the presence of invasive species in your shipment – you will receive an EAN (Emergency Action Notification) typically requiring you to re-export the shipment and contents. If you have received an EAN, contact experienced trade and customs attorney, David Hsu at 832.896.6822 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com for immediate assistance.

Customs seizes undeclared currency hidden in traveler’s underwear.

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According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s media release – CBP officers at Logan International Airport in Boston questioned two Indonesian nationals arriving on a flight from Doha, Qatar.

During a more thorough secondary inspection, CBP asked the travelers to declare any currency they were carrying. The travelers declared they had approximately $12,000. However, a search of the passengers revealed $4,900 sewn into the passenger’s underwear. CBP officers also found $20,000 in US currency and $2,000 in Canadian currency among their belongings – bringing the total seizure amount to $27,000.

This incident that occurred in early November is just a portion of the over $265,000 in undeclared currency seized daily by CBP.

If you have had your currency seized by Customs at the airport while leaving or entering the US, contact experienced currency seizure attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 for immediate assistance.

After your currency has been seized, there are certain timelines and documents that need to be filed with Customs, don’t delay.

We represent travelers locally, nationwide and world wide and will work hard to get you your money back. Call or email dhsu@givensjohnston.com today!

More invasive mitten crabs seized.

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Screen shot of seized mitten crabs – source: cbp.gov

For some reason, CBP likes to post their invasive mitten crab seizures. According to the CBP website – last Wednesday, October 31st, CBP officers found 108 Chinese mitten crabs in a package labeled as a dress.

Mitten crabs are a delicacy in Asia and typically eaten.

The mitten crabs were seized and turned over to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The article does not say what happened to the mitten crabs.

If you have received a notice of seizure or penalty notice from Customs, contact experienced trade attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.