Thursday, August 28, 2008

Exports Are NOT The Opposite of Imports

For importers and others who are new to exporting, the first thought might be that exporting is the opposite of importing. Thus, if a product is sent out of the country, that shipment constitutes and export. While that statement is correct, it is incomplete because an export can occur without a product leaving the U.S. territory. How does that happen?

Export is defined in the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) 734.2 (b)(1) as an actual shipment or transmission of items subject to the EAR out of the United States, or the release of technology or software subject to the EAR to a foreign national within the United States. Section 120.17 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) defines export as the disclosure (including oral or visual disclosure) or transfer of technical data to a foreign person, whether in the United States or abroad. Those definitions sound simple, assuming we know what constitutes a foreign national and the “release” of technology or software.

First, let’s define foreign national or person. A foreign national is:

· Someone who is NOT a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien (green card holder)
· A foreign corporation, business associations, partnership, trust, society or any other foreign entity or group that is not incorporated or organized to do business in the United States.
· An International Organization
· A foreign government and any agency or subdivision of foreign governments or foreign corporations
· Foreign persons in the U.S. on limited work visas or student visas

When trying to determine if someone is a foreign national, it is important to know that whether someone is a “foreign” person under the export regulations is not the same as whether the individual is in the country legally, entitled to work, a good person, etc. Checking an individual’s social security card or driver’s license will not be sufficient to make the determination.

Now that we have a better idea of what constitutes a foreign person, let’s explore what constitutes the “release” of technology and software. Release includes visual inspection by a foreign national of U.S. origin equipment and facilities, oral exchanges of information in the U.S. or abroad. Some of the typical situations in which an export “release” of technology or software could occur within the U.S. include:

· Sending an email or fax that contains technical information to a foreign person
· Talking on the phone with a foreign person
· Holding technical data discussions within earshot of foreign nationals not licensed to receive information
· Viewing information on a laptop
· Foreign national visit U.S. facilities for tours and meetings
· Trade shows, seminars and conferences
· Company Intranet
· Presentations

This concludes our brief lesson for those who are new to exporting. Knowing that an export can occur without shipping a tangible product is a very important lesson to learn early in your career in exports.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CBP Announces Annual Trade Symposium

Mark your calendars and make your reservations! On August 26, 2008, U.S. Customs and Border Protection announced its annual trade symposium will take place Wednesday October 29 through Friday October 31. The agenda for the Trade Symposium and the keynote speaker will be announced at a later date on the CBP Web site. The CBP Trade Symposium will be held at the JW Marriott, 1331 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW., Washington, DC. Hotel accommodations have been reserved at two hotels in downtown Washington, DC.
To obtain the latest information on the Symposium and to register on-line, visit the CBP Web site. The cost is $250.00 per person, and includes all Symposium activities. Persons interested in attending are encouraged to register early, as space is limited. Registration will open to the public on or about September 2, 2008. All registrations must be made online at the CBP Web site and will be confirmed with payment by credit card only.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 6: Taking Previous Exams

Taking past exams is an important part of any study plan. Persons studying for the Customs Broker Exam have an advantage because past exams are available for students to review. The exams provide information about the types of questions and format of the test. So, now that you have discovered this gold mine of information, what should you do with it?

1. Familiarize yourself with the test format.

It is not necessary to sit down and take a complete test of 80 questions the first time you review the exam. Take time to read a few questions and become familiar with the way the questions are constructed. Practice looking up answers in the HTSUS and Regulations. Watch out for questions containing the words “NOT”, “MAXIMUM”, “EXCEPT” and other words that appear in all capital letters and bold text. Pay close attention to the terminology. Some questions may contain answer options that appear to be the same such as 10 working days and 10 calendar days. Don’t get in a hurry and select the first answer that contains “10” in it.


Imported merchandise must be entered within _________ days after landing from the vessel, aircraft or vehicle.

A. 10 calendar days

B. 10 working days

C. 15 calendar days

D. 15 working days

The correct answer is C. Part 142.2(a)

2. Take practice exams in simulated test environment.
Do your best to recreate the actual test-taking environment and conditions. Find a quiet location to take the test without distraction and threat of interruption. Use only the written reference materials and notes allowed on the exam. Do not use any electronic device other than a battery-operated calculator. Allocate 4 hours for taking the entire test or 2 hours if taking half of the exam. The exam contains 80 questions, and the time allotted is four hours, which averages out to three minutes per question. You may take less time on some questions and more on others, but it will be impossible to finish the test if you spend 10 minutes on each question.

3. Review your results.

In addition to preparing you for the test format and testing conditions, taking practice tests as part of your study plan builds confidence and allows you to find areas that need more concentrated study. Compare your answers with the answer sheet. Review the questions you answered incorrectly and keep track of the sections of the regulations and HTSUS the correct answer comes from. If you find most of your incorrect answers come from the HTSUS, then devote more time to studying the HTSUS lessons and answering classification questions. If you find that you missed more answers from Part 152 on valuation, then spend more time studying valuation and answering valuation questions. Devoting extra time studying the topics related to the questions missed on the practice exam is a great way to improve your score on the next practice exam and the real exam.

4. Highlight all answers in the CBP Regulations.
As you review the exam questions answered, highlight the correct answers in your copy of the regulations. This will reinforce your knowledge of the regulations and the highlighted information tends to stand out on the page when you are looking for it. Even though the questions for each exam may be worded differently, the answers will still be found in the same texts. The last eleven exams contained 33 questions from Part 24. Ten of those 33 questions came from 19 CFR 24.23. Six of the 33 questions came from 24.5 and six came from 24.1. By marking the answers in those three sections, you reinforce the information in your mind and you will be more likely to spot the answer quickly when looking for it on the actual exam.Click HERE to see a sample of a highlighted page for the answers related to 24.5.

5. Answer test questions as a regular part of study.

In addition to taking practice tests, set aside some study time once or twice a week to answer questions from other exams that you are not using for the simulated practice. Since each question is allotted an average of 3 minutes, you could plan to spend 30 minutes answering 10 questions from an older exam. You could do this exercise four times a week and have completed half of one exam in a week. Alternatively, you could allot one hour and answer 20 questions at a time. If you did this four times a week, you would have completed an entire exam. This exercise will give you practice managing time. Additionally you will gain familiarity with the question, answer formats, and increase your knowledge of the materials.


When taking old exams, be alert for possible inconsistencies in the answer selections. Tariff numbers and duty rates have changed over the years. A tariff number that was listed as a possible answer on the October 2003 Exam may not be valid in 2008. When calculating the duty rates to determine an answer, you may find a slight variance because of the reduction in duty over the years. With the addition of new free trade agreements, duties have been reduced and eliminated for certain countries.

We welcome your comments on these suggestions and encourage you to add your own ideas to this forum so that other students studying for the exam can benefit from your experiences.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 5: Time Management

Now that your study materials and workspace are organized, it is time to discuss time management. Students often feel overwhelmed by the amount of information to be learned in order to pass the exam. Some people feel like they do not have enough time to do all they want to do, so finding additional time to study for the Customs Broker Exam seems like an impossible task.

Have you ever noticed how some people seem to have a natural ability to get things done without appearing stressed out, while others are often late in completing tasks and appear to be rushed all of the time? Have you ever thought that certain people accomplish more because they don’t have to work full time, or they don’t have children or they have more money? Even if those reasons were true, it doesn’t change the fact that everyone has the same amount of time each day. The difference is in how you choose to use your time. Time cannot be bought or saved. Once time is gone, you cannot get it back. Your ability to pass the exam as well as accomplish other goals begins with how you manage your time.

What are some of the causes of time management problems? Three of the most important causes of problems related to time management are procrastination, poor planning and wasting time.

Procrastination is a tendency to avoid a harder or less pleasant task in favor of doing an easier one. Procrastination often results in added stress due to missed deadlines or last minute preparation to meet a deadline. No one needs or wants additional stress and stress is not good for our health. Visualize what will happen if you procrastinate by putting of studying for the exam. Do you see success or failure? Procrastination is not an option when you visualize success!

Poor planning is another culprit that sabotages achievement of success. You must prioritize and create schedules to accomplish the tasks necessary to accomplish your goals. Once you make up our mind to take the exam, you must create a study plan and make it a priority. Of course, most aspiring brokers have full time jobs and personal obligations; however, by creating a plan and schedule that allots specific time for study, you can ensure success by following that schedule. You can’t expect to pass the exam unless you make the effort.

Wasting time is one of the biggest problems exam students face. When too much time is spent doing things that are unproductive, you rob yourself of valuable time that could be spent studying for the exam. It may not be the activity itself that is unproductive, but the amount of time spent doing the activity that creates the problem. If you like watching television, watching one favorite show is not unproductive because it provides relaxation and a sense of well-being. However, watching several hours of television to avoid studying is unproductive. Playing a game on the computer for 15 minutes is not necessarily unproductive because it provides a break from the routine that gives your mind a rest. However, playing computer games for hours robs you of time that could have been spent studying.

What can you do to improve time management in order to pass the Customs Broker’s Exam?

The tools and methods adopted to manage time wisely will largely depend on the amount of individual’s experience with issues covered on the exam, learning styles, ability to grasp and retain new information, work schedule and other personal issues. We have provided a few suggestions below. At the end of this article, you can comment on these and provide some ideas of your own.

· Create a Calendar

Your calendar should allocate time for work, study, exercise, meals, family and personal time. Set a regular time for study. You may want to check off the items completed each day and keep track of time spent on each task.

· Identify Priorities

Prioritize tasks and create a “To Do” List. Compete the most important tasks first. If not all tasks are completed, putting off the least unimportant task isn't procrastination, it's probably good prioritization.

· Learn to Say “NO”

Explain to people that you must study to pass the test and you will be available in a few weeks. Six to eight weeks of intense study is a small commitment of time when you think about the rewards of passing the exam and the amount of free time you will have when you no longer need to study.

· Make Time For Family

Set aside special time for family each week. Remember, quality over quantity. Your family will appreciate the time you spend with them and be more understanding of your need to study when you devote special time for them.

· Set Aside Time for Exercise

Regular exercise reduces stress and promotes good health. Exercise can provide a welcome break from your studies by giving your mind a chance to relax and think of something else. Your choice of exercise can be anything from gardening, walking around the block to a game of softball or a workout at the gym.

· Limit Unproductive Activities

Reduce the amount of time spent on the phone, watching television, reading email, playing computer games, etc. There will be plenty of time for these activities when you finish the exam. Take the necessary phone calls, but do not use the phone as an excuse for not studying.

· Make Good Use of Unproductive Time

1. Waiting

At one time or another, you will find yourself waiting for something. The wait may be anywhere, from the doctor’s office or at an airport, to an unaticipated event, such as a traffic jam. Anticipate circumstances that are likely to create unavoidable delays and be sure to have your notes handy. You can make great use of that time to study. Instead of being upset because you were stuck in the airport for two hours because your plane was late, you can be excited that you were able to devote two more hours to your studies.

2. Commute

Whether it’s by train or car, most people have some type of commute to work. Use the commute time to listen to the audio lectures on CD. Turn that hour spent in a traffic jam into productive study time.

3. Lunch

Do you really need an hour to eat lunch? Consider devoting three of your lunch breaks each week to study. Treat yourself to a nice lunch out at the end of the week.

· Reward Yourself

Set daily, weekly and monthly goals. When you have achieved a goal, reward yourself. It may be as small as allowing yourself 30 minutes of television or spending 30 minutes playing a video game to something more significant such as a vacation or cruise after receiving news you passed the exam.

We welcome your comments on these suggestions and encourage you to add your own ideas to this forum so that other students studying for the exam can benefit from your experiences.

Check the Boskage Trade News regularly for more helpful hints on studying for the Customs Broker Exam and other useful news for international trade professionals! We will explore “Using Previous Exams” in the next study tip.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

CBP Requires Importers to Declare First Sale Information

On August 20, 2008, CBP posted CSMS #08-000163, which outlines the requirements for filing first sale information using the entry summary. Section 15422 of the 2008 Farm Bill requires the trade to provide notice to CBP when the transaction value of imported merchandise is determined on the basis of the first sale rule.

To fulfill these requirements, the required declaration is made when filing the consumption entry and is indicated by entering “F” in the miscellaneous indicator field. If the transaction is not subject to first sale valuation, then the field will remain blank. This procedure applies to all consumption entry types. For more information about the reporting requirements and procedures, contact your customs broker and/or ABI client representative.

Monday, August 18, 2008

New & Revised Informed Compliance Publications

Customs and Border Protection has been busy reviewing and updating the Informed Compliance Publications this year. Since the first quarter of 2008, one new publication was added and 12 were updated. Here’s a brief overview of the new publication along with a list of the publications that have been reviewed and updated.

New Publication:

Classification and Marking of Pipe Fittings under Heading 7307 (July 2008)
This new publication provides the definition of pipe fittings along with images and examples of the various categories of fittings. This document also provides detailed explanations of what is included and excluded from the provisions of HTS 7307, requirements for mill certificates and information about antidumping cases. This document is a must for importers of couplings, elbows, sleeves, unions and other metal fittings.

Revised and Updated Publications:

· Classification: Apparel Terminology under the HTSUS - 06/10/2008
· Classification and Quota Status of Raw Cotton Under the HTSUS - 06/10/2008
· Classification of Hats and Other Headgear Under HTSUS Heading 6505 - 06/04/2008
· Classification of Knit to Shape Apparel Garments Under HTSUS Heading 6110 - 05/16/2008
· Classification of Ribbons & Trimmings under the HTSUS - 06/12/2008
· Classification of Textile Costumes Under the HTSUS - 06/10/2008
· Gloves, Mittens & Mitts, Not Knitted or Crocheted, Under the HTSUS - 05/16/2008
· Marking Requirements for Wearing Apparel - 05/16/2008
· NAFTA for Textiles & Textile Articles - 05/16/2008
· Classification and Quota Status of Raw Cotton Under the HTSUS - 06/10/2008
· Table and Kitchen Glassware - 06/25/2008
· Classification of Textile Costumes Under the HTSUS - 06/10/2008

Tired of looking for updates? Click here to find out how you can have updated versions for all of the Informed Compliance Publications along with an extensive compilation of Customs Directives and other selected CBP information in loose-leaf and searchable CD-ROM.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 4: Organization

Now that you have made the decision to take the October 2008 Customs Broker Exam, it’s important to develop a study plan that guarantees your chances of success.

Some people are naturally good at organization; everything has a neat orderly place. Have you ever noticed your colleague’s desks or your neighbor’s garage? All of the books are stacked on bookshelves, all of the papers are filed away or neatly stacked, the tools are hung on a pegboard and two cars actually fit into the garage. On the other hand, you wonder how another colleague can find anything since his or her desk is covered with so many papers, books and other junk that you can’t even see a desk.

What is organization, why is it important and what can you do to become organized for the exam?

What is organization?

Organization is the systematic arrangement or assembly of objects in an orderly manner.

Why is organization important?
For the purposes of the studying for the exam, organizing your materials helps improve time management and increases your comprehension and memory. If your materials are organized, you will not waste time looking for a book or document that you need later on. Obtaining and organizing all of your materials will allow you easily access information as you need it. This organization will save time on the day of the test.

What can you do to become organized for the exam?

1. Organize Required Materials - Once you have obtained the required materials, you should organize them. You will want to be able to access each one quickly during the exam. Organizing the CBP Regulations and the HTSUS is easy, because they can be placed in binders so that you have two rather large books instead of a huge pile of loose paper. What remains are the stack of directives and the other supplementary documents required for the exam. If you haven’t purchased these materials already bound, then you may consider placing them together in a separate binder. You can include additional materials to that third binder later. It will be much easier to find information relating to the supplemental materials if they are placed together in one binder instead of having to shuffle through all of those documents stacked in a pile. In addition, placing those documents in a binder reduces the risk of one of them getting lost.

2. Label Required Materials – Consider using tabs to identify the chapters of the HTSUS. If you are looking for Chapter 61 and know that it's in the middle of the book, having a tab with the chapter number listed may help you to locate the exact chapter faster. Time is very important on the exam. We also suggest that you use tabs to mark each part of the regulations. Colored tabs can be used to indicate more important or frequently tested parts. Tabbing also makes certain parts easier to find and will save you time. Finally, you should consider using tabs on the supplemental materials you placed in the binder. As you add notes and other materials to the third binder, you will want to organize your notes so that you can easily locate them. Organizing our materials not only saves time, but it can also increase your comprehension and memory of large amounts of information.

Note: Even though you may use electronic versions of the HTSUS and CFR in your business, you must use the paper versions for the exam. It is a good idea to study using the paper versions to get used to looking up the information the same way you will on exam day.

3. Arrange Your Study Area – Remember the example of the colleague with the desk that looked like a disaster area? If that example sounds like your desk or study area, now is the time to clean it up. Don’t waste valuable study time digging through piles of paper. Get rid of the clutter in your study area and your office. If you have a desk or designated study area at home, create a special place for your study materials. If you study at the office, create a special place for your materials there too. If possible, create a study area that is comfortable and attractive. A bright cheery comfortable atmosphere will be more inviting for study than the dreaded cold gray metal desk with the uncomfortable wooden chair. Don’t get too comfortable; studying in the bed may result in sleep instead of productive study time.

4. Create a Study Schedule - Your schedule will depend on your experience and learning style. Someone who is new to importing may need to devote more time than someone who has more experience. Some students may need study that is more individual while others may prefer some group or interactive activities. Regardless of your preferences, you will be required to do a great deal of reading. Some people require more structure so that reading, tests and other assignments are provided on a regular basis. Others may prefer to create schedules that suit their schedules. Just remember that it is important to allow plenty of time for reading and taking practice tests. If you work full time and wait until two weeks before the exam to start reading the regulations, you may find yourself burned out and struggling on exam day. We’ve provided a few examples that may help you when creating your schedule:

· Consider how many weeks you plan to devote to study. If you have 16 weeks to study, then you will not need to read as much each week; however, if you only have eight weeks to study, you will need to read a little more each week.

· Divide the reading into manageable sections. You may consider reading similar sections together. For example, you might want to read and study the requirements for brokers and entry in one week. This would include Parts 111, 141 and 142. You may want to devote another week to the various types of entries and alternatives to entries.

· Determine how many practice tests you want to take and designate dates and times to take them. Students should take at least one complete 4-hour test and are encouraged to take more than one.

Now that you have placed the required exam materials in binders with tabs, arranged your study space and created a schedule, you are ready to begin your studies.

We welcome your comments on each of these articles. Share what has worked for you or what hasn’t worked so that others will benefit from your experiences.

Check the Boskage Trade News regularly for more helpful hints on studying for the Customs Broker Exam and other useful news for international trade professionals! We will explore “Time Management” in the next study tip.

Monday, August 11, 2008

ISO/PAS 17712 Container Seals Required Effective October 15

On Thursday August 7, U.S. Customs and Border Protection issued a notice in the Federal Register reminding shippers and importers that pursuant to 6 USC §944, all loaded containers arriving by vessel at a port of entry in the U.S. on or after October 15, 2008, are required to be sealed with a seal meeting the ISO/PAS 17712 standard.

The ISO/PAS 17712 standard requires that container freight seals meet or exceed certain standards for strength and durability so as to prevent accidental breakage, early deterioration (due to weather conditions, chemical action, etc.) or undetectable tampering under normal usage. ISO/PAS 17712 also requires that each seal be clearly and legibly marked with a unique identification number.

Tanks and non-standard containers, such as open top containers, that cannot accommodate a seal meeting the ISO/PAS 17712 standard are not subject to the requirement. C-TPAT members are already required to use ISO/PAS17712 approved security seals.

Containers arriving on or after October 15 without the required seal will be subject the party responsible for the violation to a civil penalty. CBP will phase in the penalty assessments for these violations. Vessel operators are reminded that they must transmit all seal numbers via the Vessel Automated Manifest System 24 hours before cargo is laden aboard a vessel at a foreign port.

Trade Enforcement Bill Introduced

On July 17, two House Ways and Means Committee members introduced a trade enforcement bill H.R. 6530 designed to promote market access for U.S. goods and services and reinforce remedies against unfair trade practices. Introduced by Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Sander Levin, D-Mich, the bill also calls for improved enforcement of U.S. intellectual property rights, health and safety laws and other related trade issues.

“The American public is skeptical about U.S. trade policy in part because the public does not believe that our trading partners are playing by the same rules as the United States,” Chairman Rangel said. “Our trading partners need to open their markets to U.S. exporters. They need to stop providing trade-distorting subsidies, and to stop dumping their products in our market. They need to protect intellectual property rights, and they need to ensure that their exports to the United States are safe. The Trade Enforcement Act of 2008 will help to regain confidence in U.S. trade policy." (
House Committee on Ways and Means Press Release July 17, 2008)

The bill’s primary objectives are aimed at:

· Combating counterfeiting and piracy;
· Improving import safety;
· Eliminating barriers to American exports;
· Restoring and enhancing U.S. trade remedies.

The proposed bill involves participation and coordination between U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the trade. The bill creates several new positions, such as the Office of Congressional Trade Enforcer and provides resources for training and technology to carry out this mission.

Due to other priorities, the shorter congressional schedule and the potential desire for government agencies and members of the trade to review and provide input, it is unlikely that the bill be approved this year. However, this effort will set the stage for trade policy discussions when the new president takes office in 2009.

Click HERE to see the entire bill.
Click HERE to see a summary of the bill.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Customs Broker Exam Study Tip 3: Using Looseleaf and Bound HTSUS and Regulations

Let’s face it; the materials necessary to study for the Customs Broker Exam are burdensome. Who wants to carry around a bunch of big heavy books? While it’s possible to use online versions while studying, we don’t recommend that you make a habit of this practice. Why? Because you cannot use the online version of the Regulations or HTSUS on the day of the exam. You will also want to make notes in your materials and highlight key words, phrases and sections. Use the online versions after you’ve passed the exam or when you need a quick answer to a client question and you have the online version readily available.

Now that we’ve determined that printed versions are best, what are the options? There are three primary options, looseleaf, paperback (perfect binding) and coil bound.

The looseleaf version is bulky; however, it can be easily updated when supplements are issued quarterly for the Regs and in summer for the HTSUS. The print is larger than other versions, making it easier to read. There is also more room for making legible notes in the margin. If you use the looseleaf version, make sure you purchase a good quality binder so the pages turn easily and do not fall out of the binder.

Looseleaf editions can also be used in a publication rack, which allows them to sit open on a desk. The pages tend to turn more easily with a publication rack, and the disadvantage of bulkiness is essentially negated. This makes publication racks a popular choice for exam day.

Paperback/Perfect Binding
The Regulations produced using perfect binding resemble smaller paperback versions of the loose-leaf version (The paperback HTSUS is the same size as the looseleaf). The cover is made from heavier paper and is glued together at the spine with strong flexible glue. These books are lighter and slightly less expensive than the loose-leaf versions; however, they cannot be updated. If you are going to use the book regularly and make notes in the book, these might not be the best options. However, if you are looking for a book that is easy to carry for quick reference, then the paperback edition would be an excellent choice

Coil binding is commonly used for publications that are frequently opened so that the pages lie flat or back-to-back. Generally, binding is accomplished by punching holes along the entire length of the spine of the page and winding a wire through the holes to provide a fully flexible hinge at the spine. Coil bound versions are smaller and more lightweight than their looseleaf counterparts are (they are the same size as the perfect-bound). Coil binding is similar to looseleaf; however, the pages cannot be removed and they cannot be updated.

For persons taking the exam, we suggest that you consider the looseleaf book or a coil bound version. Both books are sturdy and the primary differences relate to the ability to update the looseleaf version versus the ease of carrying the coil bound version.

Click HERE to view the various binding options for the CBP Regulations.