CBP in Houston finds pests inside wood packaging materials.

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Photo of pests, source: cbp.gov

Earlier this week in Houston, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agriculture specialists working at the Houston Seaport found several wood packaging material shipments arriving to the Houston port from March 5 – March 12 containing timber pests that may cause damage to the forest and trees.

All 5 of shipments with the wood packaging material pests were immediately exported and unable to offload in Houston.  CBP along with the Department of Agriculture took samples of the pests and the pests were identified as a bark beetle from the wood wasp family.

All importers should be aware of any shipments in WPM used to brace, secure and support cargo.

If you have a wood packaging materials issue – you may not have to export, contact experienced wood packaging materials attorney – David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP revoke withhold release order (WRO) on disposable rubber gloves.

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Photo by ELEVATE on Pexels.com

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release, yesterday, CBP revoked a Withhold Release Order (WRO) for rubber gloves imported by WRP Asia Pacific Sdn. Bhd.

Briefly, a WRO is issued by CBP and intended to prevent goods suspected to have been made with forced labor or in violation of labor standards from entering the US.

The WRO, which was initially put in place last September and revoked recently because CBP obtained information demonstrating the company no longer produces rubber gloves under forced labor conditions. The process to revoke a WRO required CBP becoming involved with the manufacturing and labor practices to ensure WRP complied with international and US labor standards.

While the media release made no mention of the corona virus, it is unusual to see a media release singling out a revocation of a withhold release order, especially a WRO on PPE goods  such as disposable rubber gloves.

If you are subject to a WRO and want to explore your options, contact experienced customs attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Suspected counterfeit corona virus test kits seized.

That didn’t take long – U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at LAX seized a package containing what they suspect are counterfeit COVID-19 (corona virus) test kids from the UK.

Earlier this week, the CBP officers inspected a package labeled as “Purified Water Vials” with a declared value of $196.81, upon further inspection, CBP officers found six bags of vials filled with a white liquid and labeled “Corona Virus 2019nconv (COVID-19)” and “Virus1 Test Kit”.

CBP turned over the suspected fake test kids to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for analysis.

In general, there is something you can do if your shipment has been detained or seized for being suspected as counterfeit – however, in this situation, and given the current concerns over corona virus, the importer of record will likely not get this shipment returned and may receive a civil penalty notice from CBP in the upcoming weeks.

What is a Customs Form 28 (CF-28)(CBP Form 28) Request for Information?

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Image of the CF-28, source: CBP.gov

If you are an importer, you may have received a Customs Form 29 (CF-29) or CBP Form 28. This form is an official request for information from Customs.

Why did I receive a CBP Form 28?
Upon importation of your goods, if Customs finds incomplete, inaccurate or insufficient information, they will send a CF 28 to your office.

What does Customs ask for?
Customs will ask for different things depending on what you imported. They could ask for more information or ask for a sample, or any additional information related the specific goods you imported.

What are some common reasons to receive a CF-28?
Most common issues relate to HTS code classification, intellectual property rights, antidumping and countervailing duty and more.

Do I need to respond?
Yes, you need to respond honestly to the CF-28 wihtin the time specified on the letter. A response is due 30 days from the date of the request (the Date of Request is located in box #1 at the top left corner of page 1).

What do I do if I receive a CF-28?
1. Make a note of the due date.
2. Try to respond as quickly as possible.
3. Answer all questions, be sure to look at box 14 to see if there are any additional items you are asked to provide.
4. Talk to your Customs broker if you need copies of any documents.
5. Respond to all questions honestly

Feel free to reach out to Customs if you have questions. The CF-28 will contain the name, email and telephone number of the CBP Official in boxes 17-21 at the bottom of the page.

If you have any questions on how to respond to the CF-28, contact experienced Customs attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP Returns artifacts to Cyprus Government

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Image of seized coins being returned to the Cyprus Government; source: CBP.govQ

Back in 2009, U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) seized a shipment of ancient coins in a 2009 air cargo shipment from London to a coin collector in Missouri. CBP officers seized the coins and sent a request to the coin collector for documentation to show they could import the goods.

In general, CBP is tasked with returning cultural property (arts, artifacts, antiques, etc) to the country that owns the cultural property. CBP does require importers to have the correct documents to show they have the ability to import the goods in to the US. In the instnat seizure, the collector in Missouri told CBP they did not have authority from Cyprus and the coins were seized. Recently, the coin collector lost their legal battle and the coins were returned to the government of Cyprus in a ceremony at the Cyprus Embassy in Washington D.C.

According to the Customs media release:

An appraisal determined that the collection dated from the Roman Empire, from several periods during 81 BC through 217 AD. The collection includes:

Two bronze coins from an unspecified Roman period
One coin from the Ptolemaeus period, 81 BC -58 BC
One coin from the Augustus period, 27 BC – 14 AD
Two coins from the Tiberius period, 14-37 AD
One coin from the Severan period, 193 AD – 217 AD

If you have had your import seized because they were a “cultural artifact”, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu to evaluate your options. Phone/text 832-896-6288 at anytime or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019.

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Photo by Florian Köppen on Pexels.com

In early December 2019, the Counterfeit Goods Seizure Act of 2019 was introduced in the U.S. Senate to allow U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to enforce design patents at the border.

Currently, Customs has the power to enforce only copyrights and trademarks that have been previously recorded with Customs under Section 1595a(c)(2)(C) of Title 19 of the U.S. Code.

The new bill amends amending 19 U.S.C. § 1595a(c)(2)(C) to allow Customs discretionary power to seize and detain imported goods that infringe upon a recorded U.S. design patent.

The reason for this bill is because counterfeiters are capable of producing nearly 1 to 1 replicas of goods that avoid seizure by Customs because the counterfeit goods do not include the infringing trademark.

For example, in 2018, counterfeiters imported over $70 million in fake Nike shoes similar to the Air Jordan line and avoided customs by not including the trademarked logos – not surprisingly, Nike is one prominent supporter of the new bill.

If the bill passes, future counterfeit Air Jordan shoes omitting any trademarked labels would be subject to seizure as Customs would now be able to enforce design patents.

If you have had a seizure for suspected violations of intellectual property or trademarks, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

Customs seizes $32,000 in currency from travelers.

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Image of seized unreported currency, source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection media release, CBP officers working at the San Antonio International Airport carried out 2 seizures of currency currency from travelers who under reported the amount of currency they were carrying.

In the first seizure, CBP officers stopped a pair of travelers arriving from Mexico. The travelers individually reported they were carrying less than $10,000, but upon subsequent questioning by CBP, admitted they divided the money amongst each other to get below the $10,000 threshold. This agreement among parties to divide the money amongst themselves is known as “structuring” in the eyes of Customs. The total amount seized from the two travelers totaled $14,807.

Similarly, in the second seizure, 2 Mexican nationals were detained and questioned regarding the amount of currency they were carrying. Both individuals reported carrying below the $10,000 threshold amount, however, they both admitted they divided the currency before boarding the flight. The combined amount of currency totaled $17,200.

In short, the two take aways are to always report how much currency you are carrying and to answer all questions by CBP truthfully.

Other tips to avoid currency seizures:

  1. Always declare any amounts you have.
  2. Always declare any currency (regardless of denomination), monetary instruments such as checks, cashier’s checks, money orders, etc.
  3. If you are traveling in a group, count the group as one.

While not mentioned, I believe the travelers were alerted to CBP by trained dogs and then the travelers were followed on camera prior to the flight.

“Travelers are provided multiple opportunities to mak

If you or someone you know have had their hard earned currency seized by Customs, contact experienced currency seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

End of the Customs Broker’s District Permit?

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Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

For the past several years, there have been efforts within CBP to remove the requirement for individual district permits. Just recently CBP published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to take the first step to getting rid of the district permits (see: https://www.cbp.gov/trade/programs-administration/customs-brokers).

The proposed rules will likely address the Commercial Customs Operations Advisory Committee’s (COAC) recommendations. Some recommendations are listed below:

  1. “District permit” and “national permit” will be replaced with “the permit” to reflect a single permit functioning at the national level.
  2. Single permit allows brokers to have authority to conduct customs business at the national level.
  3.  Transition to a single permit.
  4.  Brokers need to show evidence how they intend to exercise responsible supervision and control.
  5.  Enhancements to ACE for broker reporting and streamlining broker reporting.
  6.  Requires the Power of Attorney come from the importer to the broker.
  7.  Removing specific feed dollar amounts
  8.  Require customs business may be conducted only within the customs territory of the United States.

If you need help or have questions about this transition, give David Hsu a call/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

15,000 invasive mitten crabs seized since September 2019.

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Image of seized mitten crabs, source: CBP.gov

According to a US Customs and Border Protection media release, Customs agents in Cincinnati have seized 3,700 mitten crabs from China and Hong Kong in the past 4 months.

Over the past 4 months, 3,700 mitten crabs have been found in 51 shipments and were set to be delivered to New York. The shipments were labeled as “tools and various clothing articles”. Nationwide, Customs has seized over 15,000 mitten crabs since September 2019. The mitten crabs are considered a delicacy in Asia.

Here in the US, mitten crabs are an invasive species because they are omnivores and eat anything, impacting the food supply to aquatic plants, fish, algae, other crabs and all living organisms in the water. Mitten crabs are also especially invasive as they are found in fresh water when young and salty water in adult life. Mitten crabs also tend to burrow furthering land erosion and weakening levees and flood control measures.

If you have received a letter from Customs regarding the wrongful importation of invasive species or if you have questions about the exportation of foods that may be subject to Fish and Wildlife regulations, contact experienced Customs and seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.

CBP seizes $90,000 in counterfeit goods from Hong Kong.

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Image of seized goods. Source: CBP.gov

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) media release, officers seized two shipments of counterfeit products arriving at Pittsburgh International Airport.

The first shipment’s manifest indicated the package contained men’s casual shoes. Upon inspection, CBP found a Rolex watch, LV bracelet, Christian Loubouton shoes, par of Amiri jeans, Gucci jacket and a LV sweatshirt. If authentic, the merchandise would have a manufacturer suggested retail price of $90,798.

In the second shipment, the packing list indicated phones cases – but instead contained designer brand charms and jewelry.

As is the case in most counterfeit seizures, poor quality of items and lack of authentic packaging were common indications of counterfeit merchandise.

CEE?
In all counterfeit seizure cases, CBP typically sends the counterfeited items to the Consumer Products and Mass Merchandising Centers for Excellence and Expertise (CEE for short). The CEE center is sort of a misnomer, as the CEE offices are located throughout the US and not in a centralized location. The CEE center then verifies the authenticity of the goods with the trademark holders. In all cases, the trademark holder will claim the seized goods are counterfeit.

So what happens after a seizure?
The importer of record (person who will receive the package) will receive a seizure notice by certified mail, return receipt requested. The importer of recorder can then either abandon the items, file a petition, offer in compromise or refer to court action.

If you have had a shipment seized by Customs for alleged counterfeit violations or if you have received a notice of seizure, contact experienced seizure attorney David Hsu by phone/text at 832-896-6288 or by email at attorney.dave@yahoo.com, dh@gjatradelaw.com.