On April 18, 2020, President Trump signed an Executive Order providing additional economic support for U.S. businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Executive Order gave the Treasury Department the authority to implement deferrals for customs duties and fees.
Subsequently, on April 19, 2020, the Treasury Department and United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a joint statement permitting a 90-day postponement for the payment of certain customs duties and fees by qualified importers. However, not all importers will benefit from this deferral treatment and the scope of deferred duties and fees is limited.
Only importers with significant financial hardship can benefit from this duty deferral. The joint statement recognizes that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, local, state and national restrictions have forced the closure of offices of the importing community and those businesses have limited their operations and procedures. An importer will be considered to have a significant financial hardship if both of the following conditions are met:
- its operations are fully or partially suspended during March or April 2020 due to orders from a competent governmental authority limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings because of COVID-19; and
- gross receipts for such importer are less than 60 percent of the gross receipts for the comparable period in 2019.
An eligible importer need not file additional documentation with CBP to be eligible for this relief, however, documentation must be maintained to establish these requirements are met.
Eligible Customs Entries
The potential deferral of duties applies only to entries or withdrawals from warehouse for consumption made on or after March 1, 2020 and no later than April 30, 2020. This measure does not permit refunds of customs duties and fees that have already been paid.
The available duty deferrals do not apply to the following:
- antidumping or countervailing duties;
- Section 232 duties, such as those imposed on certain steel and aluminum products;
- Section 201 duties, including duties on certain solar panel products; and
- Section 301 duties, including duties on certain imports of Chinese origin.
If an entry is filed with products subject to the above trade remedies and products eligible for temporary duty postponement, the entire entry will NOT be eligible for the 90-day deferral. Therefore, an importer should submit separate entries for shipments that contain both eligible and ineligible merchandise.
If the above qualification are met, duty payments may be postponed for a period of 90 days (calendar days) from the date that the deposit of customs duties and fees would otherwise have been due. No interest will accrue for the delayed deposit during this 90-day temporary postponement.
Any adjustments to April Periodic Monthly Statements ("PMS”) for the March entries were due by 11:59 p.m. ET on Monday, April 20, 2020. However, adjustments to April entries remain available. An importer should work with the filers/brokers to pull eligible customs entries from PMS because these eligible entries can be deferred for payment.
For further information, contact a member of the Customs and International Trade Team: Douglas J. Heffner, Nate B. Bolin, Kathleen M. Murphy, James Sawyer, Randy Rucker, Richard P. Ferrin, Nicolas Guzman, Mollie Sitkowski, Carolyn M. Bethea, Stephen Y. Chen, or Qiusi Y. Newcom.