U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently suspended several companies from participating in an ongoing test designed to expedite the entry of low-value shipments.

Section 321 of the Tariff Act of 1930 allows for the informal entry of articles that have a retail value of $800 or less and are imported by one person in one day. These de minimis shipments are free of duty and taxes and are subject to expedited clearance processing. A November 2023 report from the International Trade Commission found that Section 321 shipments account for a substantial share of all U.S. e-commerce imports by quantity and that China is the leading source of de minimis imports by a large margin.

CBP is currently conducting a test in which Section 321 shipments may be entered via informal entry type 86 in the Automated Commercial Environment, resulting in faster clearance. The test is open to all owners, purchasers, consignees, and designated customs brokers of Section 321 shipments, including those subject to partner government agency requirements, imported by all modes of cargo transportation except mail. However, it is not available for goods subject to antidumping or countervailing duties, goods subject to quota, certain tobacco and alcohol products, and goods taxed under the Internal Revenue Code.

Acting Commissioner Troy Miller said recently that CBP is pursuing a “multi-layered enforcement approach to prevent abuse of the de minimis process, protect the integrity of the supply chain, and ensure that businesses comply with applicable U.S. legal requirements.” As part of this approach CBP made several modifications to the test effective Feb. 15 in response to enforcement challenges related to imports of illicit substances, counterfeits and other goods violating intellectual property rights, and goods made with forced labor. For example, CBP has encountered violations such as entry by parties without the right to make entry, incorrect manifesting of cargo, misclassification, misdelivery (e.g., delivery of goods prior to release from CBP custody), undervaluation, and incorrectly executed powers of attorney.

More recently, Miller revealed that CBP has suspended multiple companies from participating in the test after determining that their entries posed an unacceptable compliance risk. “The majority of brokers, carriers, and supply chain businesses that participate in CBP’s Entry Type 86 Test are compliant with applicable laws,” Miller said, but noncompliance “can have far-reaching effects on the integrity of our trade system and the people reliant on the goods that flow through our ports every day.” As one example he cited bad actors who exploit the de minimis process to move materials used to produce synthetic drugs, like fentanyl and its analogues, and other contraband into the U.S.

Miller noted that any company suspended from the test will be considered for reinstatement if it demonstrates to CBP that it has developed and implemented a remedial action plan.

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