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Import Export Institute

Import Compliance

If you are importing into the United States, YOU are the responsible party and must be aware of your requirements and potential liability. There are vast  laws and regulations relating to importation that U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) oversee and monitor. Compliance is not a dirty word!!  Compliance is the full responsibility of the importer, and cannot be passed on to freight forwarders, customs brokers, etc. Develop a pre-import compliance plan to demonstrate understanding and identify potential problems. Would you rather use a band-aid or get stitches?

Here are a few tips to help you. This list is not an exhaustive list, but a starting point.

1. Know your product and supplier. Get assistance with this from the manufacturer. Ask for specs, ingredients, pictures, etc. Remember, this is for compliance reasons. If a supplier is not willing to assist, then consider moving on.

2. Request samples in advance of exportation. Protect your own intellectual property rights.

3. Maintain records to demonstrate that you did use “reasonable care.” Remember that custom’s can request 5 years worth of records.

4. Confirm that you are using the correct HTSUS (Harmonized Tariff System of the United States) code. Click here to see the HTS online reference tool. If you are unsure, request a binding ruling.

5. Confirm that you are using the correct Country of Origin. This can impact your ability to use free trade agreement benefits. Do you source many products from different countries? Ask for a binding ruling if there are any questions as to final origin.

6. Confirm that you’re using the correct value. This is typically the price paid for the product, but if there are any assists, commissions paid, etc., these may need to be added into the declared value for your goods.

7. Assure you have a written import compliance program, and/or a Custom’s Policy and Procedure Manual. This should outline your importation flow –  from import to inventory to sale or use of the product. Senior management needs to be involved and demonstrate involvement. Hands-off at the senior level is not acceptable.

8. Is there a Free Trade Agreement in place that you can use? Don’t leave money on the table. The U.S. has 20 free trade partner countries and each has their own rules and guidelines.

9. If you receive any communication from Custom’s, address it immediately. Consult an expert if needed, or if you are unfamiliar with what is being requested. A CF-28 is a request for more information whereas a CF-29 is a notice of action. Both require immediate action on your part.

10. In the event you receive a notice of detention or seizure notice, be proactive. Never pay without a fight!


Staying compliant is not an option, it’s a necessity. This could end up costing you not only money but time.

Part of the import export business program is to train participants in basic compliance strategies and tips for developing compliance programs. Be proactive! What you don’t know could very well be harmful to your business. Contact us to learn more about the International Trade certificate course and start exporting and importing safely and securely.

We encourage you to contact us. Please call our training office directly at 352-364-4644. Our office hours are Monday – Friday, 8:30 a.m.. – 5:00 p.m.. EST. Weekends and evenings by appointment.

Click here to vist the Import Export Institute Go Global! Training Program FAQ Page
Click here to request information be emailed to you.

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