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Blog Posts

Increased enforcement of U.S. Antidumping & Countervailing duties

Antidumping and countervailing duties (AD/CVD) are customs charges aimed at counteracting artificially low prices on imported goods.

AD/CVD rates can be significantly higher than other import duties – sometimes exceeding 400 percent of the value of the merchandise. In fiscal year 2015-2016, approximately $US13.9B of imported goods were subject to an AD/CVD order.

These high duty rates sometimes motivate importers to try to circumvent the duties by illegally importing goods. But beware: the penalties if you’re caught are steep.

What’s new?

Earlier this year, AD/CVD enforcement was added to the Priority Trade Issues (PTI) list. PTIs are issues receiving greater attention by CBP due to their potential to cause significant revenue loss, harm the U.S. economy, or threaten the health and safety of the American people. A list of current PTIs is provided on CBP’s website.

The U.S. Administration released an Executive Order on March 31, 2017 focusing on additional means to enforce AD/CVD laws. The Order states, in part, that, “[t]he Increased Enforcement ACCVDAttorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is required to develop recommended prosecution practices and allocate appropriate resources to ensure that federal prosecutors accord a high priority to prosecuting significant offenses related to violations of trade laws.”

Steel is of particular interest for ADD/CVD enforcement: Several orders against steel products already exist. And new petitions and investigations against all types of steel products are on the rise, especially as the current administration has broadcasted its commitment to ensuring a fair playing field for the U.S. steel industry.

Importers may wait a long time to know whether they’re hit by these duties

The United States is the only country that uses a retrospective system to assess AD/CVD, which means that the duties collected from importers at the time of entry are only estimated. The final duties are often not determined until two to three years later, when the U.S. Department of Commerce instructs CBP to collect final duties owed.

What to do?

In this heightened enforcement environment, it is more critical than ever to be proactive in reviewing your import transactions and to address any potential issues as soon as they come to light. Prior disclosures can be used to avoid or mitigate penalties if it is revealed after the fact that applicable duties were not paid.

Learn as much as you can about the goods you’re importing before the transaction: Know your supplier; know the country of origin; and be particularly wary of any goods that seem to be priced suspiciously low.

If you have any questions regarding AC/CVD duties, or any other U.S. Customs matter, contact your local Cole International USA office and speak to one of our experienced customs professionals or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today!

Information provided by: U.S. Customs Brokerage Dept. - Cole International USA

Exporting goods from the United States

Every year, U.S. companies export over two trillion dollars’ worth of goods and services. If you want your business to get in on the action, it’s important to do it right – right from the start.

Be prepared

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting import duties, and enforcing U.S. regulations around trade, customs, and immigration.

If you export goods out of the U.S., CBP strongly recommends that you familiarize yourself with all relevant CBP policies and procedures prior to exporting those goods. You should also be aware of any entry requirements specific to the commodity you are exporting – including those of other U.S. and international agencies.

Is a licence required to export?

Sometimes. Although CBP does not require a licence for exporting goods, it does enforce export regulations for other government agencies. Because some of those agencies may require licensing, you should contact the lead agency that regulates the good you’re exporting to find out what’s required.

Exporting Goods USWhat else do I need to know?

Anyone handling exports needs to keep current on their responsibilities and be knowledgeable about:

  • EAR (Export Administration Regulations) and ITAR (International Traffic in Arms Regulation): U.S. export control laws that affect the manufacturing, sales and distribution of technology.

  • ECCNs (Export Control Classification Numbers): Commodity codes used on the Commerce Control List to identify dual-use items for export.

  • BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security): An agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that deals with national security and technology matters. BIS's activities include regulating the export of sensitive goods and dual-use technologies and enforcing export control laws.

  • This is just a start… There may be more, depending on what you’re exporting. Consult the sources below or talk to a professional in exporting logistics for more information.

What are some reliable and user-friendly sources of information?

  • The Department of Commerce's Trade Information Center website is a comprehensive resource for exporters. Sign up for their quarterly newsletter and keep current on any regulatory changes.

  • The CBP INFO Center maintains a searchable database of questions and answers on exporting and other CBP topics.

  • Bureau of Industry of Security. The BIS Exporter Portal has lots of handy links and interactive webpages full of useful information. Sign up for email updates here.

  • Information on commodity-specific export requirements, and contact information for U.S. government agencies, can be found on the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security website. 

  • You can also direct questions regarding exporting and licensing requirements to CBP officers at the port where your merchandise will exit the country.

Having full knowledge of your responsibilities as an exporter is essential as it can help you avoid very costly penalties. But it can be a challenge to keep on top of all that’s required of you and who does what on the regulatory side.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today for help. Our experienced customs brokers can help answer your questions about exporting from the U.S.

Information provided by: U.S. Customs Brokerage Dept. - Cole International USA

Importing a Vehicle from the U.S. into Canada

You’ve probably heard about – and you may even know – someone who’s found a great deal on a car in the U.S. and is now happily driving it on Canadian soil.

But what’s involved in importing, and how do you know whether the car you’re considering will be allowed across the border? Will that great “deal” be as good as it seems once you pay all the duties, taxes and other fees to get it into Canada?

The import of vehicles is overseen by Transport Canada and the Canada Border Services Agency. Before you import, here are some things you should know.

Vehicle admissibility: Your first step should be to check your vehicle against Transport Canada’s List of Vehicles Admissible from the United States to make sure it’s allowed into the country.

Vehicle “branding:” A “brand” is a permanent designation on a vehicle’s title indicating that the vehicle has previously sustained substantial damage through collision, natural disaster or any other occurrence requiring repair. Check the vehicle’s brand history: Some brand statuses will render a vehicle inadmissible into Canada.

Modification requirements: Vehicles may require modifications in order to comply with Canada Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (for example, a metric or dual-reading speedometer or daytime running lights). Before you import a vehicle from the U.S., determine what modifications it will require. Modifications and the associated costs are the responsibility of the importer. Importing Vehicle

Vehicle inspections: The RIV – Registrar of Imported Vehicles – must complete an inspection within 45 days of the date of import; all required modifications must be completed prior to the inspection. A number of independent centres across Canada (including most Canadian Tire stores) are authorized to perform these inspections. The RIV website provides a list of inspection centres across Canada. Each province also requires an inspection on vehicles coming from out-of-province before they can be registered. Contact your provincial insurance provider for more information.

RIV is the Registrar of Imported Vehicles, Canada’s national program of vehicle registration, inspection and certification. Consult the RIV website for information and to initiate the mandatory registration process. (Exemptions: Vehicles older than 15 years are exempt from registration, as are select other vehicles; see this link for more information.)

Recalls: Purchasers are advised to contact the vehicle manufacturer – or dealer – to ensure the vehicle is not subject to any recall. Vehicles with an outstanding recall are not allowed into Canada. Proof of “recall clearance” is required by the RIV before it will clear the vehicle for inspection.

Cost: Various federal and provincial agencies levy fees and taxes on imported cars.

The list below provides a good estimate of what’s required but may not be complete. Consult the CBSA, the RIV, or a knowledgeable customs broker to be sure you understand the full cost of importing a vehicle.

  • Duty: The CBSA will assess duty on a vehicle manufactured in a country other than the US and Mexico (see the relevant CBSA memorandum for details).

  • RIV fees: about $300 (less if the car is being imported for “parts-only”)

  • Air conditioning excise tax: $100

  • Excise tax on fuel inefficient cars: $1000-$4000 (amount depends on the vehicle’s “weighted average fuel consumption” and kicks in if this is 13L/100km or more)

  • GST: calculated based on the cost of the vehicle plus any duties and excise taxes

  • Miscellaneous costs for other things such as licensing fees, a temporary trip permit, provincial insurance fees, emissions testing, environmental levies, a title history search, etc.

The RIV website can help you build a checklist of importer requirements specific to the vehicle you’re interested in, with specific considerations for the border crossing you’ll use as well as the province into which you will be importing.

At the border, both countries’ customs agencies need to be involved:

  • U.S. Customs requires electronic filing (AES) which must be done by U.S. firm – usually a customs broker or freight forwarder. Once electronic filing is complete, U.S. Customs requires a minimum of three business days’ (72 hours’) advance notice prior to the permanent export of self-propelled land vehicles from the country. The specific U.S. Customs requirements are detailed on the RIV website.

  • Canada Border Services Agency processes the import of vehicles into Canada. They are responsible for confirming vehicle admissibility, assessing duties and taxes, and initiating the RIV registration process. The specific requirements are detailed on the RIV website.

The CBSA website provides full and detailed information on the import process.

We can help

If this all seems a bit overwhelming, don’t worry – there are seasoned professionals at the ready who can take the hassle, uncertainty and delay out of the vehicle import process.

For a flat fee, our experienced customs brokers can coordinate transportation of the vehicle and submit all the required documentation. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today to find out how we can make your experience importing a car from the U.S. as easy as possible.

Information provided by: Vehicle Imports Dept. - Cole International

The importance of correct tariff classification – get it right the first time

Importers have an obligation to correctly classify their goods for tariff classification, and to understand the potential ramifications of incorrect tariff classification.

The benefits of knowing the nature of your goods will result in more accurate tariff classifications and duty rates, which will reduce your chances of border delays, and penalties during an audit. Your business will run smoother and more efficiently when you fully understand the nature of the goods you’re importing.

How complicated is it?

It’s not surprising that mistakes can happen when classifying goods – this stuff is complex. Here’s just one example:

  • Vegetables, fruits, nuts and other edible parts of plants that are prepared or preserved in vinegar with an acetic acid concentration of 0.5% or greater are most often classified in heading 20.01 of the HS and, as such, are often duty-free under a most-favoured nation agreement.

  • The same foods preserved in vinegar with an acetic acid concentration of less than 0.5% would more likely be classified in heading 20.08 which would make them subject to a 6% duty rate.

Importance Correct TariffsFor greater certainty, seek out a tariff classification advance ruling from the Canada Border Services Agency on a products you import.

What’s the worst that can happen?

An incorrect tariff classification can result in you paying additional duties, taxes and penalties after importing. And since you will have likely sold the product to your customers by the time an audit takes place (audits can happen up to four years after import), any additional fees paid will eat into your profit margin. Monetary penalties for incorrect tariff classification can be very high, and it’s almost impossible to recover those costs after the fact.

What can I do?

Risks can be minimized by teaming up with someone who can provide the technical expertise required to properly classify your products at the time of import.

Be proactive:

  • Consider enrolling in a tariff classification course or request information and/or training from your customs broker that can improve your understanding of customs compliance and solidify your standing as an importer of record.

  • Research duty rates prior to ordering and importing a new product in order to know and understand the import costs involved.

  • If your company does not have a tariff specialist, consider partnering with a customs broker. These specialists will review the available supporting documentation in order to ensure a good understanding of a product’s characteristics and function for the purpose of tariff classification.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today for help with classification or with questions about any other customs requirements.

Information provided by: Canadian Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International

Importing printed material? New potential opportunities!

We all know that different types of goods mean different rates of duty at the border. What’s not as intuitive is understanding the distinction between similar items and knowing what classification category an item belongs to for the purpose of assigning duty.Importing printed material

The print matters

While almost all goods have words of some sort printed on them, the nature of the good and the prominence and message of the printing will affect the ultimate classification of the good when you import it.

The distinction goes like this:

  • If the primary purpose of the good is to send a message – that is, if the print plays a prominent role in the purpose of the good – it is considered “printed matter” and you won’t pay duty on it.

  • If the good has printing on it but is considered utilitarian, it will be classified based on its constituent material (e.g. plastic bag, cardboard box, t-shirt, etc.) and duties will be assigned as to other goods made of that material.

Muddying the waters somewhat, however, is a recent court decision that said a utilitarian good that also contains an important message about its use will be classified as printed matter (and, as such, is duty free).

The good in question in that case was a plastic bag used in medical settings for transporting samples and specimens, stamped with the word “BIOHAZARD” and displaying relevant warnings and handling cautions.

Importing printed biohazardbagWhat you can do

Communication with your customs broker is key in instances such as this where classification of goods is not a simple black and white matter.

If the good you are importing contains printing:

  1. Advise your customs broker of this fact and provide a picture or sample of the good, complete with a clear view of the printing.

  1. Communicate precisely and accurately how integral that printing is to the purpose of the good – ensuring not to overstate its importance.

We can help

Our trade compliance professionals can help you determine the correct classification for goods that contain printing. We can help you apply for refunds of duty already paid on goods that didn’t require it, and help you save money down the road, too. 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today!

Information provided by: Canadian Customs Consulting Dept. - Cole International