- Who has a power of attorney from you?
- Are there POAs that should be revoked?
- Are there any that expired and need to be re-executed?
- Was the service from my brokers satisfactory for the cost?
- Is there a clear channel for communicating to the broker prior to the first import of new merchandise?
Grab three random entries from each month of 2006. That's a total of 36 entries. For the first line item of each entry, do the following:
- Confirm the HS classification. Don't just check your parts database. Instead, get a sample, picture, drawing or spec and look at the classification fresh. Have you properly applied all the relevant General Rules of Interpretation, Section and Chapter notes? Is you conclusion consistent with Customs and Border Protection rulings and the Explanatory Notes?
- Check the reported value. Does the 7501 value match the commercial invoice and the proof of payment? Again, don't believe your system unless it ties directly into Accounts Payable. Are any non-dutiable charges supported by real documentation (rather than estimates)? Check with your finance people and see whether there were any payments to the supplier that are not reflected on the invoice. These might constitute dutiable assists, royalties, or indirect payments. If the goods were not actually sold to you, how was value determined?
- Is the duty rate supportable? If you claimed, NAFTA, CAFTA-DR, GSP, AGOA, or any other duty reduction program, can you prove that the merchandise qualifies? Same goes for 9801 and 9802 entries. If your random sample does not include any duty preference programs, go pull some entries that do.
- If antidumping or countervailing duty deposits were necessary, were they made and correct?
- Check your inventory records. Does the quantity received match the quantity reported on the 7501?
- Does the country of origin on the 7501 make sense given the location of the supplier and the shipping documents? Now go look at a sample and see if the item is properly marked. If not, what exception applies?
- If the merchandise is branded, do you have proof of authorization to import from the trademark holder?
- Review any communications you had with CBP last year. Did you respond to all inquiries and notices (e.g., CF28 and CF29)?
- Do you have liquidation information on entries over 314 days old?
- Do you have any supplemental information letters or protests outstanding with CBP? What's happening with them?
- Review the (a)(1)(A) list. Where are your records? Are you confident you can respond to Customs in the event of a request for information?
Make yourself a corporate hero by looking for duty and other cost savings opportunities.
- Send a memo to purchasing explaining what countries get duty preferences and under what circumstances.
- Review your export operations for drawback opportunities.
- Can you consolidate shipments to reduce the Merchandise Processing Fee?
- Consider changing product specifications to change classifications to favorable duty rates (i.e., tariff engineering).
Lastly, go have lunch. Invite your colleagues from purchasing, engineering, receiving, and accounts payable. Explain to them the kind of information you need from them before merchandise shows up at a port. Tell them how grateful you will be if they keep you in the loop on new product development and changes in suppliers, prices, etc. Ask them to copy you on the routine reports they generate, even if they will rarely be of use to you because occassionally they will be very useful. These people need to be your friends. You might consider repeating this lunch quarterly.
Happy new year.