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Wednesday, January 30th, 2013
Increased Informal Entry Limit Goes Into Effect

Effective January 7, 2013, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) will no longer require importers to provide a surety bond or complete an Entry Summary (CBP Form 7501) on imported merchandise valued at less than $2,500.  This is an increase from the previous limit of $2,000 for informal entry.  Additionally, the minimum Merchandise Processing Fee (“MPF”) required to be paid by importers has been reduced from $25.00 to $2.00.  Importers will still need to complete an Entry/Immediate Delivery Form (CBP Form 3461).

CBP’s stated reason for increasing informal entry limit was to respond to inflation, “and thereby to reduce the burden on importers and other entry filers.”  77 Fed. Reg. 72715, Dec. 6, 2012.   CBP estimates that there were approximately 852,000 formal entries in fiscal year 2011 with merchandise values between $2,000 and $2,500.  CBP believes that approximately 558,000 of those entries (around 65%) of those entries would have been affected by the rule change because of the MPFs charged on these entries.  See id.

The increase is also a tenet of the “Beyond the Border” initiative between the United States and Canada.  Specifically, Canada has also increased its limit for expedited customs clearance (i.e., informal entry) to $2,500 from $1,600, thereby harmonizing the limits of the two countries.  Other parts of the “Beyond the Border” action plan can be found here.

Importers should note, however, that the CBP Port Director may, at his or her discretion, still require a formal entry to be filed for any import regardless of the value of the imported merchandise.  See 19 C.F.R. § 143.22.  Additionally, the informal entry process is not available for commercial importations of goods subject to anti-dumping or countervailing duties.  Also, the informal entry process may not be available for some textiles valued at more than $250.00 and have been imported for commercial use.

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