Important Links

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Trademark search; application process; laws and regulations

U.S. International Trade Commission
AD/CVD orders, investigations and related documents
Export basics

Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)
Export regulations; Commerce Control List; Federal Register Notices

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

International Trade Administration
FTA Overview

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Free Trade Agreements Text; Overview; Press Releases; Fact Sheets

Canada Border Services Agency

Canadian HTS
Includes historical HTS to 2001

Canada HTS Search

Canadian D-Memos

CBSA Import Information


Binding Ruling2016-07-29T14:40:15-05:00

A binding ruling is a written decision by CBP in response to a written request for a ruling by an importer or other party pertaining to classification, valuation or marking of merchandise.

Bill of Lading (BoL or B/L)2016-07-29T14:39:54-05:00

A bill of lading represents receipt of goods by the carrier, and contracts between the owner of the goods and the carrier, to deliver those goods. There are primarily two types of ladings. A straight bill of lading is non-negotiable. A negotiable or shipper’s order bill of lading can be bought, sold, or traded while goods are in transit and is commonly used in letter of credit transactions. The owner of the cargo usually needs the original or a copy as proof of ownership to take possession of the goods.

Arm’s Length Transaction2021-03-12T13:40:42-06:00

A transaction in which the buyers and sellers of a product act independently and have no relationship to each other. The concept of an arm’s length transaction is to ensure that both parties in the deal are acting in their own self-interest and are not subject to any pressure or duress from the other party.

In general, CBP will consider a sale between unrelated parties to have been conducted at “arm’s length.”

If the parties are related, a sale will be considered to have been conducted at “arm’s length” only

if an examination of the circumstances of the sale of the imported merchandise indicates that the relationship between the buyer and seller did not influence the price actually paid or payable or

If the transaction value closely approximates a test value such as transaction value of identical or similar merchandise in sales to unrelated buyers in the U.S. or the deductive or computed value for identical or similar merchandise.

If the parties buy and sell from one another as if they were unrelated, transaction value will be considered acceptable. Thus, if the price is determined in a manner consistent with normal industry pricing practice or with the way the seller deals with unrelated buyers, the price actually paid or payable will be deemed not to have been influenced by the relationship. Furthermore, the price will be acceptable if it is shown that the price is adequate to ensure recovery of all costs plus a profit that is equivalent to the firm’s overall profit realized over a representative period of time in sales of merchandise of the same class or kind.

Appraised Value2016-07-29T14:38:55-05:00

All merchandise imported into the United States is subject to appraisement. The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 (the Act), codified at 19 U.S.C. 1401a, et. seq., sets forth the rules for appraisement of imported merchandise. The Act sets forth six different methods of appraisement, and their order of preference. Under the Act, the preferred method of appraisement is transaction value. Generally, the appraised value of all merchandise imported into the United States is the transaction value of the goods. In the event the merchandise cannot be appraised on the basis of transaction value, the secondary bases are considered in the following order:

  • Transaction Value of Identical Merchandise
  • Transaction Value of Similar Merchandise
  • Deductive Value
  • Computed Value
  • Values if Other Values Cannot be Determined
  • The importer may request the reversal of Deductive Value and Computed Value at the time the entry summary is filed.
Airway Bill2016-07-29T14:38:00-05:00

A bill of lading (shipping document), which covers both domestic and international, flights and serves as a contract for carriage. Technically, the air waybill is a non-negotiable instrument of air transport, which serves as a receipt for the shipper, indicating that the carrier has accepted the goods listed therein, and obligates it to carry the merchandise to the airport of destination according to specified conditions.


Originating goods or materials from the territory of any party to the specific FTA that are used in the production of a good in the territory of any of the other countries in the FTA, shall be considered to originate in the territory of such other country. The rules for accumulation may vary based on the specific FTA, so it is important to review the individual accumulation rules for each FTA.


The movement of cargo from one country, through port(s), airport(s) and/or border crossing points in another country, en-route to a third country. Although transshipped cargo does not enter the commerce of the transshipment country, because it physically enters its customs territory it comes under the customs jurisdiction of the transshipment country. In Free Trade Agreements, Transshipment is the processing or diversion of a good or material through a non FTA country.

Transaction Value2016-07-29T14:36:56-05:00

The price actually paid or payable for merchandise.

Tariff Item (HTS)2016-07-29T14:36:35-05:00

For the purposes of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and for determining a FTA Rule of Origin, the “Tariff Item” refers to the first eight digits of the HTS number (e.g. 3923.30.50”). Note: When a FTA rule requires a change at the tariff item level, the NAFTA certificate and tariff shift must be performed according to the country into whose territory the good is imported.

Substantial Transformation2021-03-12T13:40:42-06:00

The point in which a good or material is substantially transformed into a new and distinct article of commerce based on a change in name, character, or use. When determining origin, CBP takes into account one or more of the following factors:

  •  the character/name/use of the article;
  • the nature of the article’s manufacturing process, as compared to the processes used to make the imported parts, components, or other materials used to make the product;
  • the value added by the manufacturing process (as well as the cost of production, the amount of capital investment, or labor required) compared to the value imparted by other component parts; and
  • whether the essential character is established by the manufacturing process or by the essential character of the imported parts or materials
Subheading (HTS)2016-07-29T14:35:11-05:00

For the purposes of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and for determining a FTA Rule of Origin, the “Subheading” refers to the first six digits of the HTS number (e.g. “3923.30”).

Special Program Indictator (SPI)2016-07-29T14:34:46-05:00

An alpha code used to identify special tariff treatment for certain preferential trade programs. The full list of Special Program Indicators (SPI) may be found in GN3 (c) to the HTSUS.

Request for Information (CF28)2016-07-29T14:29:56-05:00

The Customs Form (CF28) used by CBP and sent to the Customs entry filer/Importer requesting additional information necessary for proper classification and/or appraisement of merchandise and/or for insuring import compliance of such merchandise. A timely reply to CBP is required in accordance with U.S. Regulations.

Purchase Order (PO)2016-07-29T14:29:26-05:00

The purchase order used when placing an order for merchandise that documents the agreement between the buyer and seller for the acquisition of goods. Usually issued by a buyer, the document contains information such as the detailed description of the goods, purchase price, payment terms, transportation, etc. With increased technology, these forms are often generated and transmitted electronically.


The means by which an importer, consignee, or other designated party may challenge decisions made by CBP after an entry liquidates.

Post Entry2016-07-29T14:28:38-05:00

An activity occurring after (post) entry data information is submitted to CBP. A post entry amendment allows importers to make corrections to entry summaries already filed with CBP but not yet liquidated.


Materials and containers in which a good is packaged for retail sale; e.g. clam shells and boxes normally sold with articles.


A good qualifying for preferential duty treatment under the specified Free Trade Agreement or Special Trade Program Rules of Origin.

Notice of Action (CF29)2016-07-29T14:27:36-05:00

The U.S. Customs Form (CF29) used by CBP and sent to the Customs entry filer/Importer as a notice of action concerning a Customs entry.

North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)2016-07-29T14:26:59-05:00

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a regional agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico which provides for reduced or duty free treatment on originating goods into the territory of one NAFTA party from the territory of another NAFTA party.

Mod Act2016-07-29T14:26:21-05:00

The Customs Modernization Act of 1993 is the popular name given to Title VI of the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act [P.L. 103-182, 107 Stat. 2057], which became effective on December 8, 1993)

Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF)2016-07-29T14:17:27-05:00

This service covers the calculation of the Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF), which is a charge imposed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, on an ad valorem (according to value) basis. MPF is 0.3464% of the entered value; Minimum $25, maximum $485. Calculation of the Merchandise Processing Fee is included in the base price.


A good used in the production of another good (e.g. raw materials or components).


The physical marking on a product that indicates the country of origin where the article was produced.

Informal Entry2021-03-12T13:40:42-06:00

An entry document required to secure the release of imported merchandise that is either valued less than $2,000, or if valued in excess of $2,000, would otherwise be released on an informal entry (e.g., personal effects & household goods)

Indirect Materials2016-07-29T13:46:23-05:00

A good used in the production, testing or inspection of a good but not physically incorporated into the good, or a good used in the maintenance of buildings or the operation of equipment associated with the production of a good, including the following: fuel and energy; tools, dies and molds; spare parts and materials used in the maintenance of equipment and buildings; lubricants, greases, compounding materials and other materials used in production or used to operate other equipment and buildings; gloves, glasses, footwear, clothing, safety equipment and supplies; equipment, devices and supplies used for testing or inspecting the goods; catalysts and solvents; and any other goods that are not incorporated into the good but whose use in the production of the good can reasonably be demonstrated to be a part of that production.

Importer of Record (IOR)2016-07-29T13:42:17-05:00

Importer of Record is defined as the owner or purchaser of the goods, or when designated by the owner, purchaser, or consignee, a licensed Customs broker.

Immediate Release (CF 3461)2016-07-29T13:41:36-05:00

CBP must release all imported merchandise, with some exceptions, before it can be received by the importer/consignee. The CBP 3461, Immediate Release, is the form used to obtain the proper release from CBP.

Heading (HTS)2016-07-29T13:40:59-05:00

For the purposes of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and for determining a FTA Rule of Origin, the “Heading” refers to the first four digits of the HTS number (e.g. “3923”).

Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS)2016-07-29T13:40:35-05:00

An organized numerical listing of goods and their duty rates which are used as the basis for coding merchandise. The HTS code determines the rate of duty, and whether the goods are subject to quotas, restraints, embargoes or other restrictions. All goods entering the territory of the United States must be classified according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS).

Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF)2016-07-29T13:40:03-05:00

Fees assessed on ocean cargo loaded or unloaded onto vessels at certain ports within the territory of the United States. In general, the fees are used to maintain the harbors and are assessed at the rate of 0.125 percent (.00125).

Fungible Goods2016-07-29T13:39:30-05:00

Materials or goods are interchangeable for commercial purposes and have essentially identical properties.

FOB – Incoterms2016-07-29T13:39:04-05:00

Free On Board – Sea and inland waterway transport only. FOB specifies which party (buyer or seller) pays for which shipment and loading costs, and/or where responsibility for the goods is transferred.

Explanatory Notes (EN)2016-07-29T13:36:18-05:00

Issued by the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Explanatory Notes provide detailed information, chapter-by-chapter; heading-by-heading, of what is included in and excluded from various sections, chapters, and headings in the HTSUS. Explanatory Notes are not part of the legal system; however, they do represent the views of classification experts.

Entry Summary (CF7501)2016-07-29T13:35:47-05:00

Documentation required by U.S. importers that allows United States Customs to determine if products are legal to import. US Customs collects duties and statistics, while the importer determines value, classifies goods and calculates duties, fees and taxes.

Entry Summary – Duty Payment2016-07-29T13:33:33-05:00

This service represents the presentation of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form 7501 (entry summary) to U.S. Customs and Border Protection via ABI. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form 7501 is the final presentation to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and includes the payment of duties and other U.S. Customs and Border Protection related charges. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form 7501 must be filed with U.S. Customs and Border Protection within 10 working days of entry/immediate release (U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form 3461). Filing of U.S. Customs and Border Protection Form 7501 is included in the base price.

Entry Clearance2016-07-29T13:33:03-05:00

An Entry is the documentation required by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and filed with the appropriate U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer and/or other government agency, to secure the release of imported merchandise from U.S. Customs and Border Protection custody, or the act of filing that documentation – “to make entry”.


Import duty refers to the tax an importer must pay to the US Government in order to bring foreign products into the commerce of the United States. Import duty can be calculated in a variety of ways, but most import duties are figured as a percentage of the declared value of the commodity. Import duty differs from product to product and is dependent on the commodity being imported, its declared value, its country of origin, and other factors like anti-dumping legislation and quota controls. Import duty values can be as low as zero or as high as 100% (or more) of the product’s declared value.

Customs Broker2016-07-28T21:54:46-05:00

A licensed individual or firm engaged in processing goods through CBP on behalf of another party. Certain requirements, along with obtaining a passing grade on the written exam, are required to obtain a license.

Customs and Border Protection (CBP)2016-07-28T21:54:23-05:00

Customs and Border Production also referred to as U.S. Customs, is one of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s largest and most complex components, with a priority mission of keeping terrorists and their weapons out of the U.S. CBP is also charged with regulating and facilitating international trade, collecting customs duty and enforcing hundreds of U.S. regulations, including immigration and drug laws.

Country of Origin (C/O)2016-07-28T21:53:27-05:00

Country of manufacture, production, or growth where an article or product comes from. There are differing rules of origin under various national laws and international treaties.

Classification of Merchandise2016-07-28T21:52:52-05:00

Classification of merchandise enables governments to collect statistics on international trade in an objective way using a numerical categorization of merchandise, known as the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, or HTS. The HTS code determines the rate of duty, and whether the goods are subject to quotas, restraints, embargoes or other restrictions. All goods entering the territory of the United States must be classified according to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS).

Chapter (HTS)2016-07-28T21:46:57-05:00

For the purposes of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, and for determining a FTA Rule of Origin, the “Chapter” refers to the first two digits of the HTS number.

Certificate of Origin (COO)2016-07-28T21:42:00-05:00

A document certifying the country of origin of goods. The certificate may be required in order to grant preferential duty treatment on imported merchandise originating in a particular country. Such certificates are usually obtained through a semiofficial organization such as a local Chamber of Commerce.

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