Who Responds to Your Importer Inquiries from U.S. Customs?

Sample Customs Invoice

As an importer, when U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) asks your Customs broker a question about your merchandise, do you allow your broker to respond to that query or do you as the Importer of Record (IOR) respond to that query? When you receive Requests for Information (CBP Form 28), Notices of Action (CBP Form 29), and Marking Notices (CBP Form 4647) from CBP, does your broker formulate your response or do you?

  • As the Importer of Record (IOR), you are the most knowledgeable about your product and how and where it was manufactured.
  • As the IOR, Customs looks to you as the responsible party in a transaction. Information about your company or your product should only be provided to CBP with the importer’s express consent.
  • Make this a policy with your broker to avoid any miscommunication with CBP regarding your products. Many times, communications between a broker and CBP are well-meaning, but the broker may not have all the facts.
  • Always respond to questions from Customs in writing, so the IOR and the broker have copies to rely on.
  • If you, as the IOR, don’t understand what CBP is asking, consult your broker for advice on how to respond to CBP.
  • If you still don’t understand what CBP wants, consult your lawyer.

It’s important to be thorough when responding to CBP. Insufficient responses may lead to further inquiries or investigations by CBP. Be certain that all facts provided are accurate, and provide a copy of all correspondence to your broker, so they know that the response to CBP was timely and have full knowledge of the context of your reply.

If you have your own ACE portal account, the contact person listed in the ACE portal will be the person that CBP contacts, so be sure this person monitors emails or an email is provided in the ACE portal that goes to a “customs group” email address with more than one person within your company listed, so responses to CBP are issued as quickly as possible.

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-- Liz Gant, LCB
Corporate Regulatory Compliance Analyst