Thanks to a new provision under the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act (TFTEA), importers and brokers will face a less tedious process claiming the 9801.00.10 provision under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule. This subheading covers articles of the United States that were previously exported, and not advanced in value or improved in condition outside of the United States. Common uses for this tariff include returned inventory, previously used goods, packaging, and articles of trade-shows.
While this tariff is invaluable in providing duty savings on eligible shipments, problems routinely arise in procuring the documents required to utilize this classification, namely the manufacturer’s affidavit. The affidavit, essential to prove that goods are indeed manufactured in the United States, regularly proves to be a headache to obtain from the manufacturer. However, with the update to this subheading that recently came into effect under the TFTEA, importers can rejoice, for this document is no longer required for entries under 9801.00.10.
As of April 24th, the provision was opened up to include products of the United States, along with products of other countries. The manufacturer’s affidavit is rendered moot, as country of the origin of the goods is no longer pertinent. A stipulation to this revised ruling is that the goods have to be returning back to the United States within three years after exportation. Therefore, shippers export declarations and importer’s endorsements are still required to prove the time of export. It is important to note that, in the cases of goods being re-imported longer than three years after exportation, the manufacturer’s affidavits will still be required.
Opening this tariff to products outside of U.S. origin, while beneficial to importers, will not be without its challenges from U.S. Customs officials. Trace-ability of the goods will continue to be a key factor when claiming goods under this classification. The three year window of re-importation will have to be verified by the original export documentation. While this is not dissimilar to the current procedures, it will likely take on an increased assessment by Customs officials, especially if the goods are not of U.S. origin.
Ultimately, the amendment to the 9801.00.10 subheading is absolutely a progressive step forward. Opening the tariff to non-U.S. origin goods being returned will help importers save on duty payments for the goods which would have been owed prior to the update, and the added bonus of not needing the manufacturer’s affidavit will be a relief to importers and brokers alike. Once Customs officials have time to acclimate to the change in policy, the perceived challenges mentioned above should be alleviated.