CBP Proposes To Eliminate The Mailing Of Liquidation Courtesy Notices

CBP’s Office of Regulations and Rulings, in a rulemaking notice of March 15, 2010, has proposed to amend the Code of Federal Regulations to discontinue the longstanding practice of mailing courtesy notices of liquidation to importers of record whose entries are filed by ABI. CBP has invited the public to comment upon its proposal.

CBP’s proposed move to eliminate the mailing of more than 6 million paper liquidation notices is estimated lead to more than $3 million in savings. Notices will still be mailed to the .4 percent of entry filers that do not use ABI.

Notices will still be sent electronically to ABI filers, which are often customs brokers acting for the importer of record. Without the knowledge that importers will be notified by CBP directly by mail regarding liquidation, it will become incumbent upon brokers to notify their clients of their entries’ liquidation. With the 180-day deadline to protest CBP’s treatment of an entry running from the date of liquidation, importers risk being caught unaware of a critical deadline that is jurisdictional in nature. In other words, because the filing of a timely protest is a prerequisite to judicial review of most of CBP actions, it is essential to for importers to know when entries liquidate, and if CBP’s proposed rulemaking is adopted, the only practical way for importers to be aware of this key date will be through communication with their broker.

That is, unless importers or their agents look for the posting of the notice of liquidation on the wall of the customshouse, which, according to the regulations, remains the only true legal evidence of liquidation. The Court of International Trade has held that when CBP fails to provide courtesy notice of liquidation, importers are still charged with knowledge of the date that a liquidation notice was posted in the customshouse. Fortunately, CBP has typically mailed courtesy notices in a consistent, reliable manner, eliminating the need to visit the customshouse, and this courtesy will surely be missed if CBP’s proposed rulemaking is adopted. One wonders if the Postal Service will file comments with CBP concerning the loss of postal revenue associated with CBP’s anticipated move.

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