Preparing for year end imports and 2019 tariffs

With year-end fast approaching and some very important regulatory changes pending for January 1, 2019, it is important for US importers to examine some possible strategies for their entry process.  One area to focus on is the entry date as it applies to changing duty rates.

CBP will usually issue a guidance at year-end for how to process entries to avail the importer of expected lower duty rates in the new year (They have not yet issued this guidance for 2018-19). This year, it may be valuable to pay 2018 duty rates for as long as possible if you import certain products from China.

CBP regulations facilitate a year-end process that allows importers to choose whether their entry will be subject to duties in the new year or within the current year.  

It’s important to understand that there are two important dates in the entry process: 

ENTRY DATE: the date on which the goods are released, except for immediate delivery, quota goods, or where the filer requests another date prior to release (see 19 C.F.R. § 141.68). The entry date for a warehouse withdrawal is the date of withdrawal.

IMPORT DATE: the date on which the importing vessel transporting the merchandise from the foreign country arrived within the limits of the U.S. port with the intent to unlade.  For merchandise arriving in the U.S. other than by vessel, the date in which the merchandise arrived within the U.S. port limits.  

cargo container ship docked at port

The usual process for entry is that these dates either match if the entry is processed prior to or on the date of arrival and can be different if the entry is filed after arrival. However, it is possible to “elect” an entry date, particularly at the end of the year when duty changes are expected.

On January 1, 2019, additional Section 301 duties on many articles from China will apply. The Presidential proclamation states that the duties are based on the entry date. In this case, importers will want to pay the duties based on the current year rather than in the new year.  If goods are arriving directly to the port where entry will take place, there is little to nothing that can be done as goods can only be cleared once arrived. 
 

If goods are arriving at a coastal port, however, and then moving inland via inbond, the importer may want to clear in the port of arrival rather than having an inbond entry issued to move the freight prior to customs clearance. This would require prearrangement with the carrier to clear at the port if the carrier will deliver to the inland location.

Importers should keep in mind that a change in process at this stage could create delays and cost more than it saves so it is important to be sure that everyone is aware of the change and how the process will work to avoid possible delays or issues with the final move.

Once all possible concerns are considered and you’ve decided on a strategy, be sure to communicate your needs and instructions clearly to your broker. 

Should you have any questions, please reach out to BDP's Regulatory Compliance Team.