Abady Law Firm, P.C. – Customs and Import/Export Attorney Blog

Learn the Basics of Customs and International Trade Policy and Procedure

Archive for April, 2014

Frequently Getting Selected by Customs and Border Protection for Additional Screening at U.S. Ports or Borders? Here’s What You Can Do…

If you find yourself consistently being detained for secondary screenings at U.S. entry ports when returning from international destinations, you should probably contact the Department of Homeland Security’s Travel Redress Inquiry Program (“DHS TRIP”).

The above statement also applies to travelers who:

  • Often face problems at ports of entry
  • Were delayed or denied entrance on an airplane
  • Were denied or delayed when trying to enter or exit U.S. ports of entry or border checkpoints.
  • Feel that they have been improperly or unfairly: denied, delayed, or required to undergo additional screening at national transportation hubs.

The reasons for these additional screenings can be anything from being confused with someone else, or past convictions. Fortunately, for those who fall into any of the above categories, there are steps you can take to ease your entry and exit through these ports.

Step 1: Figuring out why you are repeatedly selected for additional screening

If you do not understand why Customs and Border Protection (CBP) keeps singling you out for additional screening, you should to find out why. That task is not particularly difficult since the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows you to request copies of all information CBP has on you. The information on DHS databases go as far back as 1982, so by submitting a FOIA request on CBP.org, you should be able to pinpoint why you are being targeted at entry ports.

Step 2: Correcting erroneous information on your DHS files

Once you figure out why you are often made to undergo additional screening by CBP, you can file an inquiry through DHS TRIP to have incorrect information corrected. It’s a straightforward process that only requires a computer and internet access.

Simply head to the online form, and fill out the required information.

If you found erroneous information in the copies you received from your FOIA request, you should address that in the appropriate part of the form. Make sure you include details and any other information that can help clear things up.

You’ll also be required to send in copies of some documents with your inquiry like your passport. Copies of these can be sent via snail mail or scanned and sent to TRIP@dhs.gov.

Once your inquiry is accepted, you will be sent a Redress Control Number. This allows you to check up on the status of your inquiry and for booking flights once your inquiry has been resolved.

So, if you find yourself getting consistently singled out at U.S. entry ports and would like to avoid more of the same in the future, the above steps should point you in the right direction. However, you should note that resolving issues on your DHS files does not automatically exempt you from additional screening in the future. The selection process for determining which travelers are singled out depends on many other factors like random selection and travel patterns.

Generally speaking though, a positive outcome from your DHS TRIP inquiry should make it a lot easier for you to enter and exit U.S. ports.  One should seek the advice from an attorney to increase the probability of success through the DHS TRIP. 

For more information on this customs issue or to request a consultation with Abady Law Firm’s customs attorney, visit  www.customsesq.com or call (800) 549-5099

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Understanding the Charges That Come with a CBP Inspection Conducted at a Centralized Examination Station

If you have recently had a container inspected by Customs and Border Protection (CBP), you are probably wondering why you are being charged by the Centralized Examination Station (CES) conducting the inspection.

While those charges might seem strange at first, it’s all part of the regular examination process.

Every day, thousands of shipments make their way through U.S. ports of entry, and it is the CBP’s responsibility to ensure that these shipments do not contain contraband or otherwise illegal items.

In order to protect our borders CBP has the right to inspect any shipment that enters the United States, and it is the importer’s responsibility to bear the costs of all cargo exams performed by the CES. It’s all under 19 USC 1467. That law applies to household products as well since there is no distinction between personal and commercial shipments when it comes to port inspections.

The CBP has the right to examine any shipment that comes through U.S. ports, period.

The law also states that the owner of the shipment is responsible for any costs associated with the examination in 19 CFR 151.6: The Government shall be reimbursed for the compensation, computed in accordance with § 24.17(d) of this chapter, and other expenses of the Customs officer or employee supervising the action permitted.

CBP does not charge for inspections, but other costs can arise when shipments are sent to a CES for further examination. The charges for the inspection are not actually coming from CBP, it’s the CES – which is a privately owned entity – that charges for the costs associated with examinations.

Once an inspection is ordered by the CBP, the shipment is moved to a CES facility. There, the cargo will be unloaded, examined, reloaded, and then transported back to its original location. The bill that is sent to you is for the costs associated with all these tasks, plus storage fees in some cases.

The exact amount you end up getting charged varies depending on a host of factors like location, size of your shipments, and the distance to the nearest CES facility. The charges can be as high as a few hundred dollars in some cases, or less than a hundred in others.

While these charges might be inconvenient for some, using CES facilities for inspections allows for more timely and efficient inspections for all.

For more information on the charges that come with a  CBP inspection as well as any other customs law issue, please contact Abady Law Firm (www.customsesq.com) at 800-549-5099