Customs Service is responsible for the enforcement of over 144 different
laws relating to the regulation of imports, and the restriction
of goods that are considered to be illegal or dangerous to the health,
safety, or welfare of the United States.
R. Tuttle Law Offices
assists importers obtain the timely release of their merchandise
from Customs custody, and in the case of goods that are seized,
to file the appropriate administrative petition under 19 U.S.C.
1618, for their release.
& Detention of Goods
Customs service is authorized by statute (19 U.S.C. § 1499)
to examine all merchandise entering the territory of the United
States. Under sec. 1499, Customs has 5 days (excluding weekends
and holidays) from the date on which the merchandise was presented
for examination to decide whether to release or detain the merchandise.
The following limitations on examination and release apply to most
goods, unless an agency other than the Customs Service is responsible
for the admission of the goods. Examples of such agencies include
the Food & Drug Administration, Fish and Wildlife, and the FCC.
19 U.S.C. § 1499(c), merchandise not released within a 5-day
period is considered detained. No more than 5 days following a decision
to detain merchandise, the Customs Service must provide the importer
or other interested party with notice of the detention. This notice
must inform the importer of (1) that the goods are under detention;
(2) the specific reason for the detention; (3) the anticipated length
of the detention; (4) the nature of any tests or inquiries to be
conducted; and (5) any information that could be supplied that might
accelerate the disposition of the detention. Within certain limitations,
the importer is entitled to receive the results of any tests conducted
on the merchandise.
the Customs Service can not make a final determination with respect
to the admissibility of the detained merchandise within 30 days
after the merchandise ha been presented for examination, or a longer
period if specifically authorized, then the merchandise shall be
treated as if it were excluded for purposes of protesting the exclusion
under 19 U.S.C. 1514(a)(4).
protest against the decision to exclude the merchandise that has
not been allowed or denied by Customs within 30 days from filing
shall be treated as having been denied, and the importer may file
suit in the CIT to obtain the release of the goods. Once an action
respecting a detention is commenced, the court shall grant the appropriate
relief which may include, but is not limited to, an order to cancel
the detention and release the merchandise, unless the Customs Service
can establish, by a preponderance of the evidence that a decision
on admissibility has not been reached for good cause.
which is not introduced or attempted to be introduced into the United
States contrary to law shall be treated as follows:
- (1) Merchandise
shall be seized and forfeited if it is smuggled or clandestinely
imported or introduced.
- (2) Merchandise
may be seized and forfeited by Customs if:
- (A) Its
importation or entry is subject to any restriction or prohibition
which is imposed by law relating to health, safety, or conservation
and the merchandise is not in compliance with the applicable rule,
regulation, or statute;
Its importation or entry requires a license, permit or other authorization
of an agency of the United States Government and the merchandise
is not accompanied by such license, permit, or authorization;
It is merchandise or packaging in which copyright, trademark,
or trade name protection violations are involved (including, but
not limited to: violations of section 1124, 1125, or 1127 of Title
15, section 506 or 509 of Title 17, or section 2318 or 2320 of
(D) It is
trade dress merchandise involved in the violation of a court order
citing section 1125 of Title 15;
(E) It is
merchandise which is marked intentionally in violation of section
1304 of this Title; or
(F) It is
merchandise for which the importer has received written notices
that previous importations of identical merchandise from the same
supplier were found to have been marked in violation of section
1304 of this Title.
If the importation or entry of the merchandise is subject to quantitative
restrictions requiring a visa, permit, license, or other similar
document, or stamp from the United States Government or from a foreign
government or issuing authority pursuant to a bilateral or multilateral
agreement, the merchandise shall be subject to detention in accordance
with section 1499 of this title unless the appropriate visa, license,
permit, or similar document or stamp which is presented in connection
with the importation or entry of the merchandise is counterfeit,
the merchandise may be seized and forfeited.
In any case where the seizure and forfeiture of merchandise are
required or authorized by this section, the Customs Service may
remit the forfeiture under section 1618 of this title, or (B) permit
the exportation of the merchandise, unless its release would adversely
affect health, safety, or conservation or be in contravention of
a bilateral or multilateral agreement or treaty.