CBP granting importers COVID-19 duty extensions

CBP granting importers COVID-19 duty extensions

The importer community is asking CBP to consider extensions for a range of requests in light of the impact of COVID-19 on normal operations. Photo credit: Shutterstock.com.

US importers may request an extension to pay import duties they owe if they’re facing disruption and financial stress related to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in a bulletin that such requests were being considered “on a case-by-case basis” and would allow importers additional days for payment of estimated duties, taxes, and fees “due to this emergency.”

Importers interested in deferring their estimated duties were directed to email CBP’s Office of Trade, Trade Policy and Programs at OTentrysummary@cbp.dhs.gov.

A broker source told JOC.com she has had multiple clients successfully petition to have their duty payments delayed.

Typically, an importer must either pay duties owed to CBP within 10 days of cargo being released, or duties, taxes, and fees can be collectively paid via automated clearing house (ACH) through what CBP refers to as a periodic monthly statement. That would allow, for instance, an importer to pay all duties owed in January on Feb. 15. 

Extension time unclear

It was not immediately clear how long a payment deferral CBP is granting. The broker estimated the extension would be 30 days, although talk of 90-day extensions has surfaced on social media. CBP did not immediately respond to a request for comment from JOC.com.

The broker said importers should discuss any such extensions with their forwarder or broker. She also said duty payment deferral is part of a broader set of extensions the customs brokerage and shipper communities are asking CBP to consider. That includes routine requests for information from importers by the agency and responding to CBP bond insufficiency notices. The National Customs Broker and Forwarder Association of America and American Association of Exporters and Importers are both part of those initiatives.

“That’s because the right people may not have access to the information they need due to not being able to access their files or an office right now,” the broker said. “It’s really about, 'what can we do to keep business as normal?'”

Contact Eric Johnson at eric.johnson@ihsmarkit.com and follow him on Twitter: @LogTechEric.