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Articles, US Customs

Determining Admissibility/Customs Examination of Goods

In simple cases involving small shipments or certain classes of goods such as bulk shipments, examination may be made on the docks, at container stations, cargo terminals, or the importer’s premises. The goods are then released to the importer. In other shipments, sample packages of the merchandise may be retained by Customs for appraisal or classification purposes and the remainder of the shipment released. These sample packages will also be released to the importer after examination.

Examination of goods is necessary to determine:
The value of the goods for Customs purposes and their dutiable status.

Whether the goods are properly marked with the country of their origin. Special marking or labeling may apply. Generally, imported merchandise must be legibly marked in a conspicuous place and with the English name of the country of origin. Certain specific articles are exempt from this requirement. (For further information see Customs Publication No. 539 Marking of Country of Origin on U.S. Imports.)

  • Whether the goods have been correctly invoiced.
  • Whether the shipment contains prohibited articles.
  • Whether the requirements of other federal agencies have been met.
  • Whether the amount of goods listed on the invoice is correct, and no shortage or overage exists.

If necessary, goods may be analyzed by a Customs laboratory to determine proper classification and appraisal, to determine that the goods meet safety requirements, or to ensure that they are not counterfeit or otherwise in violation of U.S. laws.

If Customs determines that the goods are different from the entered descriptions in quantity or value, that the classification of the goods is incorrect, or that a different rate of duty than the one indicated by the importer applies, an increase in duties may be assessed. If Customs determines that the importer has deliberately failed to properly classify and value his goods, he may be liable for a fine, or other penalty.

When all the information has been acquired, including the report of the Customs import specialist as to the customs value of the goods, and the laboratory report, if required, a final determination of duty is made and the entry is liquidated. At this time, any overpayment of duty is returned or under-payments billed.

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