U.S. Customs and Border Protection is increasing its enforcement efforts by targeting importers it suspects may have compliance deficiencies.

For the past several weeks, members of the importing community have been receiving letters from CBP with the subject line, “Distribution of Informed Compliance Publications and Other Informative Documents.” According to high-ranking CBP officials, importers that receive these letters should be concerned that the government believes they are experiencing specific problems with import compliance.

The so-called “informed compliance letters” include a list of CBP ICPs, are accompanied by a DVD containing the ICPs listed and review the criteria for submitting prior disclosures to CBP. Further, the letters “strongly encourage” importers to “proactively monitor [their] transactional data in the ACE Secure Data Portal and evaluate whether there are any significant errors/discrepancies that should be voluntarily reported to CBP.” CBP encourages importers to conduct self-reviews and, where applicable, “correct the issues and submit loss of revenue”(emphasis CBP).

It appears that (1) the letters are designed to encourage prior disclosures and (2) CBP may pursue penalty actions in cases where a CBP audit uncovers noncompliance. Importers receiving the letters should pay particular attention to the ICPs listed as they provide clues to the areas CBP will likely scrutinize in a review.

Companies receiving these letters are encouraged to contact ST&R. While self-reviews are encouraged, ST&R former CBP attorneys and regulatory auditors emphasize that they should be undertaken under the protection of attorney-client privilege.

For more information, please contact Tom Travis at (305) 894-1001 or Larry Ordet at (305) 894-1003.

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