Customs Law

Crowell & Moring's customs law practice offers legal counsel in every area facing corporations that import goods into the United States. Our lawyers advise clients, litigate in the U.S. Court of International Trade and in administrative proceedings, represent companies during U.S. Customs Service audits, conduct internal investigations and compliance audits, and design and implement compliance programs.

We have extensive experience in the following substantive areas:

  • Classification and valuation. Proper customs classification and valuation planning can result in substantial duty savings and avoidance of civil and criminal penalties. Our lawyers assist clients in determining the optimal method for valuing imported merchandise in specific transactions.
  • Tariff reduction and elimination programs. Companies seeking to eliminate, reduce, or defer customs duties rely on Crowell & Moring for advice on North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other tariff preference programs, the duty drawback regime, temporary importation bonds, bonded warehouses, and foreign-trade zones. Airlines rely on our knowledge of the unique customs requirements and procedures that apply to passenger and cargo operations.
  • Compliance audits. Crowell & Moring lawyers help clients meet new compliance obligations imposed by the Customs Modernization Act. Our customs lawyers conduct diagnostic reviews of clients' importing operations, and design and implement customized import compliance procedures to enable companies to do the following:
    • Provide complete and accurate value, classification, and origin information to U.S. Customs on entry
    • Manage the activities of their customs brokers and other agents involved in importing undertakings
    • Manage their relationships with U.S. Customs and other regulatory agencies overseeing their imports
    • Identify opportunities for duty savings by means of tariff preferences, duty drawback, and other programs
  • Customs litigation in the Court of International Trade. A particular strength of Crowell & Moring's practice is successful litigation against U.S. Customs in the Court of International Trade. We help clients protect and pursue their rights when litigation is necessary.
  • Country of origin marking. We assist importers in untangling the web of origin rules and marking requirements to ensure that every imported product is properly marked and labeled.

In addition, our lawyers have extensive experience providing counsel in the areas of fraud investigations, foreign trade zones, drawback, and NAFTA.

Representative Engagements

  • Advice to a multinational specialty chemical manufacturer and development of a three-pronged strategy to eliminate or reduce its substantial duty burden on a high-volume, high-value product line
  • Representation of a multinational pharmaceutical company on all customs matters, including compliance assessment issues, prior disclosures, valuation, focused assessment, drawback, classification, among other issues
  • Representation of a textile and apparel importer on valuation, sourcing, quota, classification, and origin issues
  • Representation of a toy manufacturer/importer in a multi-part investigation of NAFTA origin, value, and classification
  • Representation of a major U.S. distributor of office products in a criminal and civil investigation of its imports from China, which were alleged to have been manufactured using prison labor
  • Representation of an importer of herbicides from Brazil in litigation before the Court of International Trade and in administrative proceedings before U.S. Customs, which litigation arose from U.S. Customs claims that the importer undervalued its imports
  • Representation of a California producer of aerospace fasteners in litigation brought by U.S. Customs alleging fraudulent importations
  • Litigation before the CIT concerning eligibility of a particular manufacturing process for drawback
  • Litigation of a 592 penalty proceeding before U.S. Customs concerning valuation of chemicals from Australia and France
  • Advice on duty liability for such production or ancillary costs as the provision of tools, dies, and molds; engineering or research and development; royalty and license fees; commissions; packaging; warranty/repair; discounts or rebates; interest; and installation fees