US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) occupies a critical position in the supply chain of every business that imports, uses, or relies on imported goods, parts, materials, or components, or that exports to foreign markets.
Arent Fox, with our team of experienced private practitioners and former government officials — including former attorneys in the CBP Chief Counsel’s Office and Office of Regulations & Rulings (OR&R) — has a long history of helping clients manage and improve their import and export processes; to understand and comply with the laws and regulations administered by CBP and other government agencies imposing import requirements; and to respond to seizures, detentions, investigations, audits, and penalty proceedings. Our services have helped clients minimize interruption of the supply chain and avoid costly penalties, sanctions, and port delays.
Arent Fox attorneys have represented clients on customs matters in: automotive, pharmaceuticals, specialty chemicals, specialty metals, food and beverage, food packaging, agriculture, electronics, heavy equipment, oil and petroleum, oil field equipment, customs brokerage, and freight forwarding.
When customs issues become global or extend beyond the United States, Arent Fox customs attorneys work with a network of foreign counsel that represents the top customs lawyers in their respective countries. In managing these relationships, Arent Fox is able to achieve successful results for clients when dealing with foreign customs authorities. We have particularly strong relationships with customs attorneys in Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Singapore, China, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand, and Australia.
To view a summary of our representative services, click on the headings below to learn more.
Customs & Import Disputes
We serve as trusted customs and import counsel for numerous US and non-US companies that contact us for immediate assistance on matters ranging from relief from detentions and seizures to advice in responding to CBP actions and inquiries regarding tariff classification, customs valuation, country of origin marking, and special duty claims. We also draw from our breadth of intellectual property capabilities to help clients with issues regarding CBP’s enforcement of intellectual property rights.
Arent Fox has saved money for our clients by helping them take advantage of special duty programs, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and drawback. We have been successful in achieving cost reduction and deferral of customs duties for our clients through the use of foreign trade zones and import bonds.
Customs Audits & NAFTA Verifications
We represent companies in customs audits (e.g., focused assessments), with the nature of our services ranging from general oversight and counseling to direct, frontline support in the form of developing audit response strategies and negotiating with the CBP auditors. Our lawyers manage NAFTA verifications initiated by US, Canadian, and Mexican authorities, which have resulted in significant duty savings and penalty avoidance for our clients.
Counseling & Compliance
To help our clients fulfill their reasonable care responsibilities under the customs laws, our team performs assessments of their import processes and customs transactions. We conduct tariff classification and customs valuation reviews (including transfer price evaluations), and develop training programs for our clients to perform their own self-assessments.
We represent clients that are the subject of customs penalties, including fraud and negligence actions and liquidated damages claims. We assist clients in preparing prior disclosures to avoid civil penalties. Our team, including our white collar division, defends companies in criminal proceedings involving customs violations, and conducts internal investigations to respond to criminal and civil charges brought by CBP and the Department of Justice.