U.S. Customs Issues and Proceedings
Winston & Strawn’s international trade lawyers have extensive experience in analyzing complex customs issues, surveying and auditing import operations, establishing “real world” compliance programs, and developing practical methods for minimizing customs duties. We also represent clients in all aspects of customs administrative proceedings, including fines, penalties, seizures, forfeitures, liquidated damage claims, and voluntary disclosures. If issues are not favorably resolved at the administrative level, we will pursue them before the U.S. Court of International Trade and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Customs Audits/Compliance Assessments
Our lawyers have assisted clients with compliance assessments, focused assessments, follow-up reviews, and audits by the US. Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. We provide knowledgeable counsel that encompasses the pre-audit, audit, and audit determination stages of these proceedings. We have particular experience in related party importer situations, such as defending the validity of transaction value as the basis of appraisement.
Country of Origin
Winston & Strawn’s lawyers work with importers to ensure that the country of origin is correctly identified, merchandise is properly marked, and certification requirements are satisfied. We advise clients on application of the substantial transformation test to articles (particularly electronic products, automotive, and steel products) produced in multiple foreign countries and articles processed in the United States after importation.
We routinely assist clients with tariff classification issues. We are proficient in working with the Harmonized Tariff Schedules and the Explanatory Notes of numerous countries and we are experienced in handling protests and internal advice requests. We frequently meet with import specialists and customs officials of all levels on behalf of our clients.
Winston & Strawn’s international trade lawyers have extensive experience interpreting and applying complex statutory valuation provisions to properly determine the dutiable value of imported merchandise. We frequently help importers develop strategies for minimizing duty liability. This often involves an in-depth analysis and breakdown of many transactions and assessment of the dutiability of commissions, royalties, assists, payments for research and development, tooling payments, and other costs and charges incurred in import transactions.
Preferential Duty Programs, Exemptions, and Refunds
Minimizing duty liability also includes determining whether there are duty-saving opportunities that can be realized through preferential duty programs, duty exemptions, and refunds, such as NAFTA, GSP, FTZs, TIBs, FFAs, American Goods Returned, and duty drawback.