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FTZ Savings Calculator Updated


You might have heard about Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ) and that your company could save a substantial amount of money by operating within one, but is it worth it?

Estimate what these savings might be with our FTZ Savings Calculator, which has been updated to reflect the new maximum Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF) of $497.99.

Simply plug in a few numbers and this calculator will evaluate your potential duty savings—from deferred, reduced, and eliminated duties—as well as possible savings from using an FTZ weekly entry procedure.

Need help analyzing FTZ costs and benefits? Contact Mohawk Global Trade Advisors today and talk to one of our FTZ experts.

By Danielle Leonard


BIS Clarifies EAR License Exceptions GOV and STA

Sign posts pointing in different directions indicating support, advice, help, guidance, assistance.

Intending to assist exporters, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a final rule, on November 1, that gives guidance on two Export Administration Regulations (EAR) license exceptions. This rule makes three clarifications to license exception Governments, International Organizations, International Inspections under the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the International Space Station (GOV). It also adds five notes, along with other minor clarifications, to license exception Strategic Trade Authorization (STA). The BIS has noted that these updates do not alter the EAR requirements.

Clarifications for License Exception GOV

  • Explains the term contractor support personnel, which is defined as, “individuals who are providing support within a U.S. government owned, operated facility, or under the direct supervision of a U.S. government employee.” The rule further clarifies that private security contractors are not considered contractor support personnel.
  • Defines how the BIS interprets the meaning of temporary. The note clarifies that temporary means, within no more than four years from the date of an item’s initial export, reexport, or transfer (in-country), it must be returned to the exporter, reexporter, or transferor.
  • Describes civil intergovernmental organizations, e.g. the European Space Agency (ESA), in which the membership is limited to national governments, as cooperating governments. This means that if an export, reexport, or transfer was made directly to any of the organization’s national government members, license exception GOV would be available.

Clarifications for License Exception STA

  • Expresses why transfers (in-country) are included in license exception STA and describes how this term is applied in the context of this license exception.
  • Clarifies that 600 series items authorized under license exception STA must be provided to an eligible ultimate end user, such as a Country Group A:5 military, to stay in compliance with the original authorization.
  • Replaces the terms shipment and shipped with export and reexport or transfer (in-country).
  • Stipulates that a prior consignee statement must be obtained before making any export, reexport, or transfer, including those that are intangible.
  • Identifies that when multiple consignees who form a network engaged in a production process—or other type of collaborative activity—will be receiving items under this license exception, the existing BIS policy allows the use of a single consignee statement identifying multiple consignees, as long as all the applicable requirements of the license exception are met.
  • Excludes Country Group A:5 and A:6 government consignees from the requirement to sign or provide a prior consignee statement to an exporter, reexporter, or transferor under this license exception.
  • Specifies that intangible exports, reexports, and transfers (in-country) made under this license are not subject to certain notification requirements.

If you have questions or need help understanding the final rule, contact our team for export compliance support.

By Danielle Leonard


New Minimum Security Criteria Coming for CTPAT


The recent CTPAT 2017 Conference in Detroit, Michigan offered insight into updates coming to Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (CTPAT) as well as workshops and other informative seminars. Abby Frank, Associate Advisor for Mohawk Global Trade Advisors, attended the conference and told us that aside from the dash being removed from the program name, her biggest takeaway was the introduction of new minimum security criteria. These requirements are set to roll out October 2018 in phases. Although some of the new criteria were left open-ended—as the details are still being worked out—they include

• Cyber security

• Terrorism financing

• Wood packing materials and pests

• Money laundering

• Agro terrorism (intentional and unintentional)

• Human rights

We will give updates as these new requirements are implemented. In the meantime, if you have any questions or are interested in joining CTPAT, contact Mohawk Global Trade Advisors.

By Danielle Leonard


Three Export Compliance Questions to Go with those Engineering Change Orders

An engineer writes an Engineering Change Order

Constant innovation and performance enhancements are the foundation of any solid growth strategy, especially for the industrial, high tech, and aerospace sectors. Your product is only as good as it’s last Engineering Change Order (ECO), the documentation that tells the story of the components, materials, and processes that will be altered by new product changes.

What many American companies may not realize is that those Engineering Change Orders (ECO) may be poking holes in the company’s export compliance track record. Certain changes to a product can mean the product needs to be reclassified.

Here are three questions manufacturers should be asking themselves with every ECO created:

  1. Have we communicated these changes to our export department?
  2. Have we reevaluated the classification of the product after the change was made?
  3. Have we ever exported a product that we changed but didn’t re-classify?

The risk of not considering these questions is an increased likelihood of a U.S. export violation—or worse, multiple violations.

Companies looking for a more proactive approach may also want to consider training their engineers in export commodity jurisdiction and classification. Learn more about this and other export compliance training topics, here.

By Michelle Kelley


How to Report an Incorrect Certificate of Origin to Customs

Certificate of origin with world map in background

U.S. exporters are required to inform all recipients, including U.S. Customs and Border Protection, of incorrect certificates of origin. In the past, the only way to notify Customs of an incorrect certificate was in writing. However, in a recent post, Customs provided a new procedure for communicating this via email.

If you need to submit a notification to Customs regarding an incorrect certificate of origin for the CAFTA-DR, Colombia TPA, Korea FTA, Panama TPA, or Peru TPA, the notification should be sent to fta@dhs.gov with the following included:

  • Copy of the incorrect certificate of origin.
  • Copy of the reissued certificate of origin (if any).
  • Explanation of the error (provide details as appropriate).
  • Names and emails of all parties that have received the offending certificate of origin.
  • Statement that each party that has received the incorrect certificate of origin has been notified.

Failure to notify recipients of the incorrect certificate of origin, including Customs, could result in penalties. For help with certificate of origin compliance, contact Mohawk Global Trade Advisors.

By Danielle Leonard


CBP Issues Final Rule for Consumptive Demand Clause

Dirty hands signifying forced labor and child labor

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued their final rule on June 8, which will remove the consumptive demand clause from section 307 of the Tariff Act of 1930. The clause allowed the importation of forced labor goods if the demand for those goods in the U. S. exceeded the capacity of domestic production.

According to this fact sheet provided by Customs, repealing the consumptive demand clause is intended to promote the following:

  • Enhanced ability for CBP to prevent products made by forced labor (i.e., slave, convict, indentured, or forced or indentured child labor) from being imported into the U. S.
  • Increased ability to safeguard human rights and improve labor standards in the global supply chain through CBP’s enhanced authority to address violations and prevent future abuses from forced labor.
  • Expedited review; after CBP determines that sufficient information has been provided to warrant a withhold release order, consumptive demand considerations will no longer hinder issuance of the order.

It’s important to practice due diligence and understand where and how your products are produced. The Department of Labor has provided a useful tool where importers can search for known entities subject to an active Withhold Release Order.

By Danielle Passage


U.S. Customs Offers Guidance: What to Do When There is No Equivalent Tariff Change Rule

Tariff Change Rule Guidance with containers in the background

According to this CSMS message from U.S. Customs, there are a limited amount of tariff items in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) that do not have equivalent free trade agreement (FTA) tariff change rules (TCRs). The reason for this is that the tariff items were negotiated using a Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) that was later modified in 2007, 2012, or 2017.

Customs has provided guidance to work around this issue until corresponding tariff change rules have been implemented.

Tariff Shift Origination Analysis

  • Classify the good and its materials using the most recent HTSUS in which the tariff item has a corresponding tariff change rule and perform the origination analysis using that year’s HTSUS.

Certificate of Origin

  • Indicate both the current HTSUS number and the previously corresponding HTSUS number used to perform the origination analysis in parenthesis and with wording to that effect.

The example statement Customs provides is, “Origination analysis performed using HTSUS xxxx.xx.xxxx (2016) since no TRC for item number yyyy.yy.yyyy in 2017 HTSUS.”

If you need assistance in with reviewing your origination analysis or confirming compliance of your free trade agreement claims, contact Mohawk Global Trade Advisors.

FTA Origination Analysis and Certification Guide (U.S. Customs and Border Protection)

By Danielle Passage


Don’t be Caught in the Dark with Antidumping and Countervailing Duties

Flashlight lighting up money

There’s never been a better time to be aware of antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CV) duties for your products. A recent Executive Order signed by President Trump has put these particular duties in the spotlight. Now more than ever, importers need to be cognizant of possible AD/CV orders for their existing and new products, as the government will be more vigilant in collecting these duties.

According to the Executive Order, as of May 2015, $2.3 billion in antidumping and countervailing duties remained uncollected. To recover these revenues, the Executive Order calls for U.S. Customs to develop a plan to impose appropriate bond requirements on certain items based on risk assessment criteria.

Don’t be caught in the dark—these duties can come back to haunt you. Take a look at our white paper where we discuss these issues and how to make sure you are prepared if your product is covered under an antidumping or countervailing order.

By Danielle Passage


Calculate What You Could be Saving with Duty Drawback

Calculator with drawback on the screen and below states calculate your drawback savings

Each year, there are about $2.5 billion in unclaimed duty drawback refunds. Wouldn’t you want to know if your company could recover some of that $2.5 billion? Take this case study for example, where we were able to help a client recover over $50,000 in duties annually.

How much could you save?

Try our drawback calculator and find out how much you could be saving. Then schedule a free duty drawback eligibility assessment with MGTA’s Duty Drawback Manager, Robyn Moore.

By Danielle Passage


Case Study: Wholesaler Recovers Thousands in Duties with MGTA Drawback

Financial graphs and charts overlay a containership on the water.

By using an outsourced duty drawback program, Specialty Sporting Goods is able to recover over $50,000 in duties per year with minimum outlays and nearly zero internal resources expended.

About Specialty Sporting Goods

Specialty Sporting Goods is a U.S. wholesaler of quality, athlete tested sporting equipment and gear. The company imports the majority of its products from several different vendors in China and then resells them to big box retailers in Spain, Germany, and Finland. On average, the company exports about 65 shipments per year.

The company is headquartered in the Southern United States, employs 178 people, and has annual revenues of $20 million.


Prior to working with Mohawk Global Trade Advisors (MGTA), Specialty Sporting Goods was unaware of the duty drawback program. Each year the company was unknowingly leaving money on the table by failing to recover duties paid on imported goods that were subsequently exported.

Action Taken

Through discussions with MGTA, it was found to be in the best interest of the company to file for drawback privileges. Besides recovering duties paid for merchandise that was exported in the last year, Specialty Sporting Goods was also able to recover additional funds through filing drawback retroactively on the previous three years of exports.

Using MGTA as their duty drawback provider also alleviated Specialty from the burden of using their own internal resources to execute the recovery of funds. Payroll was saved, and the company’s staff was able to maximize their time and energy on growing and maintaining the business.


The only initial investment outlaid was for duty drawback application fees, which totaled $1,500.

By setting up a quarterly drawback filing with MGTA, after deducting commission, Specialty Sporting Goods has been able to realize $50,992.50 in refunds per year. Another $153,000—after deducting commission—was recovered from a one-time retroactive filing for the previous three years.

Find out if your shipments qualify for duty drawback. Call Robyn Moore today at (630) 994-3032 and ask for your free duty drawback assessment.

By Robyn Moore, Duty Drawback Manager

©2017 Mohawk Global Trade Advisors

Download the Case Study


Be Aware of Your Exports: BIS and DDTC Cracking Down on Export Violations to Russia

Saint Basil's Cathedral in Russia

Shipments to Russia and Ukraine are still being heavily scrutinized by the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the U.S. State Department of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC). The inspection has increased since new sanctions were issued to Russia and Ukraine in December 2016. Therefore, to avoid export violations it is crucial to ensure your organization practices due diligence in regards to U.S.-origin items being transshiped or reexported to these areas.

Here are a few preventative measures you can take to minimize the chances of unknowingly enabling illegal diversion of your exported goods to Russia. The full version can be found here.

  • Pay attention to any discrepancies between the destination country and country from which an order is placed or payment is made. If the countries do not match, it’s possible that someone is planning to illegally divert your exported goods to a different country, such as Russia.
  • Be wary if a freight forwarder’s office or address is listed as the item’s final destination. It is your duty, by law, to investigate further. Do not proceed with the transaction before asking the purchaser about the item’s end user, end use, and ultimate destination.
  • When looking into the end destination of the item, an exporter should take a close look at the e-mail address, telephone number country codes, and languages used in customer communications or websites. If any of these details suggest a destination country other than what you have been told by the customer, you should be cautious about going through with the transaction.
  • Exporters are advised to always screen their customers. The U.S. government has provided a user-friendly tool to help in the consolidated export screening process.

Do you need help with developing your export compliance manual? Reach out to Mohawk Global Trade Advisors.

By Danielle Passage


What Documents are Required to Qualify for Duty Free Return of Foreign Goods?

Cargo ship with money faded in background

Back on April 25, 2016, Customs announced changes to U.S. tariff number 9801.00.10 that allow for duty free return of foreign goods that are returned within three years of being exported. We previously wrote about this topic here. However, at the time, Customs was unclear as to what documents were mandatory to present at time of entry. They have since updated the requirements in a message sent January 31, 2017.

The following are the documents needed at time of entry for certain items.

  • A Foreign Shipper’s Declaration is required if the U.S. origin or foreign origin goods are valued $2,500 or greater.
  • A manufacturer’s affidavit is required to confirm that the articles were made in the United States. (Applicable to U.S. origin goods only.)
  • One of the following documents will be deemed sufficient proof of export from the United States for both U.S. origin or foreign origin goods:
    • Copy of the entry into the foreign country.
    • U.S. export invoice or bill of lading/airway bill.
    • Electronic Export Information (EEI) or the Automated Export System (AES) filing exemption.
  • A formal entry packet is required, regardless of value, along with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) Partnership Government Agency (PGA) message set, for U.S. origin goods that were originally exported under a Department of State license that are now being re-imported.

The following are the documents needed at time of entry for aircraft returns.

  • A CBP Form 3311, or its electronic equivalent may be used, as stated in 19 CFR § 10.1, for aircraft and aircraft parts and equipment returned to the United States.
  • A formal entry packet is required if any maintenance is being performed on the aircraft while in the United States.
  • For U.S. manufactured aircraft returning to the United States that were sold to a foreign government under the Foreign Military Sales program, where modifications or enhancements will be made to the aircraft, then the following is required for the import and subsequent export of the aircraft:
    • A formal entry packet.
    • At the time of export, the EEI submission that cites the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls export license (DSP-5).

For assistance with developing processes and procedures for returning foreign goods, contact Mohawk Global Trade Advisors.

By Danielle Passage


Commercial Invoice Checklist: Avoid Miscommunicated Requirements

Customs officer with commercial invoice faded in the background

At last count, your company is sourcing from 35 foreign suppliers, located on five of the seven continents, and the number is growing quickly. With the amount of suppliers increasing, it’s a good idea to create a foreign supplier database that can be used by a number of departments. To gather information for this task, you head to the accounts payable department to pick up some invoices.

What you find stops you in your tracks. The commercial invoices do not have consistent formats. Some invoices indicate Incoterms, whereas others do not. There are even invoices that are completely in Spanish, handwritten, or incomplete.

How can these inconsistencies be corrected to ensure more uniformity? Fortunately, there is a solution—send your suppliers detailed instructions of what is mandatory on the commercial invoice [1]. This may sound simple, but getting the supplier to adhere to the requirements could prove challenging.

Communicating Requirements

Liquidated damages—monetary penalties—can be assessed against an importer for failing to provide a commercial invoice [2]. This can happen if Customs is at your facility performing a formal audit or if they request a hard copy of the commercial invoice for any entry, at any time. A shipment cannot be cleared by Customs without an invoice. Therefore, it is imperative to have a proper commercial invoice to avoid penalties and delays in clearance.

The requirement for an accurate commercial invoice should be incorporated into your import compliance manual and processes. Your procedure ought to include a way to communicate the requirements to the supplier, a process for monitoring the supplier’s paperwork, and a protocol to follow for when the requirements are not met.

While obtaining an invoice for every imported shipment may seem an obvious requirement [3], suppliers often create their own version of the document. This could be in the form of a packing list to which pricing information has been added, a pro-forma invoice [4], or their own invoice template. They may tell you they have “always done it this way;” however, none of the above supplier-created documents are acceptable replacements for a commercial invoice. This is why it is crucial to make the requirements clear to your supplier, which can be communicated in the purchase order, shipping instructions, or sales contract.


While there are few cases where a commercial invoice is not required, at minimum a U.S. importer must still present some sort of confirmation of the value of a shipment. There are also circumstances where invoice requirements may be waived by U.S. Customs, but the process to obtain a waiver is cumbersome and can cause clearance delays.

As a compliance best practice, it is recommended that you require suppliers to provide a commercial invoice for all U.S. import shipments, regardless of exceptions. Advising your suppliers that it might assist in expediting the payment process, could motivate them to comply with this request.

The Importance of Correct Value

The most important requirement to be aware of is reporting the correct value of a shipment at time of entry. It is the importer’s legal responsibility to declare the correct value, classification, and rate of duty [5]. An accurate commercial invoice will help to ensure the correct value is reported to U.S. Customs.

One way to ensure this is to compare the entered value shown on the U.S. Customs entry, against the amount your company paid to the supplier for that specific shipment. Any mistake, damage, overage, shortage, etc. that creates a discrepancy between the amount paid to the supplier—no matter when it’s paid and when it’s discovered—and the amount reported to U.S. Customs, requires that the entry be amended to show the actual value imported. If the two values do not match, corrective action—which may include advising U.S. Customs of the error—is required. Your company may want to contact a Customs attorney to discuss the best approach to this.

You may be wondering why this matters in today’s electronic environment, where hard copy documents are rarely, if ever, presented to U.S. Customs at time of entry. Even with electronic documents, discrepancies between the declared value and the payment amount often remain out of sight, until U.S. Customs arrives for an audit. Should that happen, it will do no good to explain why a system of checks and balances is not in place and why no corrective action has been taken.

The regulations are unmistakable; unless your situation qualifies for an exemption or you wish to pursue a waiver from U.S. Customs, a commercial invoice must be provided in order to be cleared by U.S. Customs. However, an inaccurate or incomplete commercial invoice is one of the most common errors found during a U.S. Customs audit. In order to avoid penalties and fines, importers need to ensure that their commercial invoices, or pro-forma invoices—in certain cases—meet all U.S. Customs requirements. By issuing instructions to suppliers, importers can help ensure the commercial invoice is accurate.

Click here to download our invoice checklist.

We can help you develop or improve your import compliance programs. For guidance on incorporating procedures about commercial invoices into your current compliance program, contact Mohawk Global Trade Advisors at 1-800-996-6429.


[1] See 19 CFR §141.81-141.90 (2017) for commercial invoice requirements.

[2] See 19 CFR § 171 App. B (D)(6) (2017)

[3] Per 19 CFR §141.81 (2017), “A commercial invoice shall be presented for each shipment of merchandise at the time the entry summary is filed.”

[4] A pro-forma invoice is acceptable only in certain circumstances as detailed in 19 CFR § 141.83(d) (2017). Many suppliers mistakenly provide a pro-forma invoice in place of a commercial invoice. Click here to see an example of a pro-forma invoice.

[5] See 19 USC § 1484(a) (2017)

By Adrienne Graddy

Download the White Paper

©2016 Mohawk Global Trade Advisors


Prepare for New TSCA Reporting Requirements

Toxic sign

Effective March 21, there will be a revised import certification process for commodities subject to the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA). The Federal Register announced the upcoming changes on December 27, 2016, found here. The original effective date for these changes was January 26 but was postponed to March 21 per a message in the U. S. Customs Cargo Systems Messaging System (CSMS).

Removing Paper-Based Blanket Reporting

The paper-based blanket reporting requirements, described under 19CFR 12.121(a)(2)(ii), will no longer be effective as information will be submitted electronically with each entry. Previously, importers could provide an annual paper blanket certification to U.S. Customs to cover multiple shipments of the same chemical during a one-year period at one port of entry. Elimination of the paper document supports the continuing effort to reduce paperwork by collecting and processing information electronically.

Importers may wish to provide blanket information to their Customs broker for repeated use on their chemical imports. A TSCA positive or negative statement can be prepared and submitted to your Customs broker for use on each applicable customs entry as needed. At a minimum, this information should be reviewed and updated annually.

Additionally, importers will be required to include three new data elements on their TSCA certifications.

• Certifying individual’s name

• Certifying individual’s phone number

• Certifying individual’s email address

Mandatory Certification Statement

A positive or negative certification statement will be required at time of entry. These statements serve to verify either that the chemical is subject to TSCA and complies will all rules and orders or that it is not subject to TSCA. The language for these are shown below per 19CFR 12.121(a).

TSCA Positive Statement:

“I certify that all chemical substances in this shipment comply with all applicable rules or orders under TSCA and that I am not offering a chemical substance for entry in violation of TSCA or any applicable rule or order under TSCA.”

TSCA Negative Statement:

“I certify that all chemicals in this shipment are not subject to TSCA.”

Need Guidance?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has advised that it is the importer’s responsibility to determine whether an imported product is subject to TSCA and must be reported at time of entry. They suggest that importers call the TSCA Hotline at 202-554-1404 for assistance and that providing the CAS (Chemical Abstract Service) numbers for your products will expedite the Hotline review process.

If you need help updating your compliance processes or in understanding the TSCA import reporting process, contact us.


By Adrienne Graddy


Responsible Sourcing Tool Added to CBP’s Forced Labor Fact Sheet

Responsible sourcing tool screen

U.S. Customs and Border Protection has revised the Forced Labor Enforcement fact sheet. This fact sheet aims to inform and therefore combat the risks of forced labor within companies’ operations and global supply chains. The update adds a link to the Responsible Sourcing Tool, which can help supply chain owners visualize each country’s risk of child labor and forced labor.

If you need guidance on starting or enhancing a social compliance system for your company, contact Mohawk Global Trade Advisors.


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