Gene Mack, Licensed Customs Broker
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Customs Users Fees

Customs user fees were established by the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985. This legislation was expanded in 1986 to include a merchandise processing fee. Also in 1986, Congress enacted the Water Resources Development Act, which authorized the Customs Service to collect a harbor maintenance fee for the Army Corps of Engineers. Further legislation has extended the User Fee Program until 2003.

The merchandise processing fee (MPF) is 0.21 percent ad valorem on formally-entered imported merchandise (generally entries valued over $2,000), subject to a minimum fee of $25 per entry and a maximum fee of $485 per entry. On informal entries (those valued at less than $2,000), the MPFs are: $2 for automated entries, $6 for manual entries not prepared by Customs, and $9 for manual entries that are prepared by Customs.

Effective January 1,1994, goods imported directly from Canada that qualify under NAFTA to be marked as goods originating in Canada are exempt from the MPF. This applies to all MPF fees: formal, informal, manually prepared, or automated. Goods that do not qualify under NAFTA are subject to all applicable MPFs.

Similarly, effective June 30,1999, goods imported directly from Mexico are exempt from the MPF if the goods qualify under the NAFTA to be marked as goods originating in Mexico.

There is no immediate change to the MPF assessed on goods of Mexican origin. However, effective June 30,1999, the MPF will cease to exist for goods which qualify to be marked as goods of Mexico under NAFTA.

The harbor maintenance fee is an ad valorem fee assessed on port use associated with imports, admissions into foreign trades zones, domestic shipments, and passenger transportation. The fee is assessed only at ports that benefit from the expenditure of funds by the Army Corps of Engineers for maintaining and improving the port trade zones. The fee is 0.125 percent of the value of the cargo and is paid quarterly, except for imports, which are paid at the time of entry. Customs deposits the harbor maintenance fee collections into the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund. The funds are made available, subject to appropriation, to the Army Corps of Engineers for the improvement and maintenance of United States ports and harbors.

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