The Customs Modernization Act (Title VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act [P.L. 103 182, 107 Stat. 2057]) became effective December 8, 1993. Its provisions have fundamentally altered the relationship between importers and CBP by shifting to the importer, the legal responsibility for declaring the value, classification, and rate of duty applicable to entered merchandise.
A prominent feature of the Mod Act is a relationship between CBP and importers that is characterized by informed compliance. A key component of informed compliance is the shared responsibility between CBP and the import community, wherein CBP communicates its requirements to the importer, and the importer, in turn, uses reasonable care to assure that CBP is provided with accurate and timely data pertaining to his or her importations.
In the event that CBP is provided with incomplete or inaccurate information, CBP may issue the importer of record a penalty only if the incomplete or inaccurate information was the result of negligence, gross negligence or fraud. In other words, the importer does not have to be perfect. The importer only needs to show that it exercised reasonable care and the importer is not liable for penalties in the event that CBP disagrees with the value, classification, etc. Although the importer may not be liable for penalties, it will always be entitled to refunds or responsible for paying additional duties of entries as liquidated by CBP. If the importer disagrees with the dutiable status after the entry has been liquidated a protest and application for further review may be filed on CBP Form 19.
We encourage you to review the CBP webpage on informed compliance publications. Some publications may be revised and new publications are added from time to time so please check the webpage regularly.
At a minimum, please review the following areas:
Reasonable Care Checklist
Suggestions to help clear CBP faster
1. Include all information required on your customs invoices.
2. Prepare your invoices carefully. Type them clearly. Allow sufficient space between lines. Keep the data within each column.
3. Make sure that your invoices contain the information that would be shown on a well‑prepared packing list.
4. Mark and number each package so it can be identified with the corresponding marks and numbers appearing on your invoice.
5. Show a detailed description on your invoice of each item of merchandise contained in each individual package.
6. Mark your goods legibly and conspicuously with the country of origin unless they are specifically exempted from country‑of‑origin marking requirements, and with such other marking as is required by the marking laws of the United States.
7. Comply with the provisions of any special laws of the United States that may apply to your goods, such as laws relating to food, drugs, cosmetics, alcoholic beverages, radioactive materials, and others.
8. Observe the instructions closely with respect to invoicing, packaging, marking, labeling, etc., sent to you by your customer in the United States. He or she has probably made a careful check of the requirements that will have to be met when your merchandise arrives.
9. Work with CBP to develop packing standards for your commodities.
10. Establish sound security procedures at your facility and while transporting your goods for shipment. Do not give narcotics smugglers the opportunity to introduce narcotics into your shipment.