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Refunds from Customs? Now, There’s a Change You Can Get Behind

Port CongestionYou’ve paid your import duties. Now, you’ll receive a retroactive refund for duties on entries eligible for Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) treatment that were filed between July 31, 2013, and July 28, 2015. There is a catch that can mean you’ll never see those refunds. Here are the details of this change and what you’ll have to do to get everything you’re owed.

Stay with me while I explain the details about the refunds. H.R. 1295 was signed into law on June 29, 2015, which included the much-awaited GSP reauthorization. Retroactive renewal of GSP will apply for eligible goods from a country that is a beneficiary of the GSP program as of July 29, 2015. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has confirmed in recent days that duties collected for eligible goods entered during the program’s lapse (between July 31, 2013, and July 28, 2015) will be refunded to importers. CBP will be providing automatic refunds for entries that were filed using the Special Programs Indicator (SPI) when the Customs entries were filed.

That last part is the catch. Many companies won’t receive their refunds for eligible entries because their entries lacked the GSP indicator (A, A+, or A*) at the time of entry. To get the refund on those filings, you have to request them through CBP at the port of entry by December 28, 2015.

It is possible to find those entries from among the thousands you may have filed, but it may not be easy, depending on your software and bandwidth of personnel in your department. You can get your company’s Importer Trade Activity (ITRAC) data from CBP and do some data mining to identify the eligible entries. You will still need to make the requests for refunds at the ports of entry. Or, you can check with your broker to see if they can help you do all of this.

This is not a pitch for our services. My point in making you aware of these refunds is two-fold: To help you see you could be leaving a lot of money on the table if you don’t pursue this, and to give you a concrete example of why it’s so important to keep up with changes in trade compliance. International trade regulations change constantly, with daily updates to old rules and additions of new regulations.

You have a hectic job. How are you supposed to keep up?

One way to stay compliant with customs regulations around the world is to attend one of our fast-paced, engaging Trade Compliance and Policy Seminars this year. In one day, you can learn about the compliance issues that matter to you from customs experts who are passionate about the topic. You’ll get information on the latest in imports and exports, along with anecdotes that help make the regulations understandable and tips.

These sessions are not a moneymaker for C.H. Robinson. We hold these seminars because we believe that as a customs broker, we should share what we know and make what seems incomprehensible easier to understand and digest. I urge you to attend one of the four remaining sessions this year in a city near you. You can get the agenda for the seminars and register here. If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you can read about the changes to GSP, and what you’ll have to do to obtain the money you’re owed.