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Quota FAQs

General Information

Import quotas are quantity controls that regulate the amount (volume) of various commodities that can be imported into the United States during a specified period of time.

Quotas are established by legislative enactments, Presidential Proclamations/Executive Orders, Free Trade Agreements issued pursuant to specific legislation. All quotas are provided for in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.

Types of Quotas

There are primarily three types of import quotas administered by CBP: absolute quotas, tariff-rate quotas (TRQs), and tariff preference levels (TPLs).

Absolute quotas permit a strictly limited quantity of specified merchandise from entering the commerce of the United States.  This merchandise can to be entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption during specified periods. Once the quantity permitted under the quota is reached, no further entries or withdrawals for consumption of merchandise subject to that quota are permitted until the opening of the next quota period. If an absolute quota fills, the importer must warehouse, export, destroy, or abandon merchandise imported in excess of the restraint limit.

Tariff-rate quotas permit a specified quantity of merchandise to be entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption at a reduced duty rate during a specific period. Quantities imported in excess of the quota can be entered in unlimited quantities during the quota period, but are subject to higher rates of duty as specified in column one of the HTSUS.

Many free trade agreements and other special trade legislation establish Tariff Preference Levels for certain textile and apparel products. CBP administers these restraints like tariff-rate quotas because they are similar. Just as with a TRQ, quantities imported in excess of the TPL limit are permitted in unlimited quantities at a higher rate of duty the rate specified in column one of the HTSUS. Additionally, merchandise in excess of the TPL limit or found not to be eligible for TPL benefits becomes subject to any duty or restrictions that may be in effect at the time for non-qualifying shipments.

The Role of CBP

Once directed to implement/administer a quota, CBP is responsible for ensuring that the applicable restrictions are strictly complied with. CBP's duties are to administer, enforce, and monitor these restrictions.

No; CBP does not have the authority to create, change, or modify quotas. Nor does CBP have the authority decide what type of quota to implement. Indirectly, CBP cooperates with the other government agencies involved and offers input regarding the impact of implementation. CBP's partner agencies try to allow as much flexibility and advance notice as possible.

This communication with stakeholders is very important so that CBP can put into place the measures necessary to properly administer the quota. Coordination ensures that everyone knows what is wanted and needed so that there is a smooth, accurate, and timely implementation of new quotas or modifications to existing ones.

Determining If Goods Are Subject to Quota

Several key considerations determine whether a shipment is subject to quota requirements associated with eligibility for preferential trade benefits:

HTSUS classification (based on merchandise description);

Textile category number (associated with HTSUS classification and used to determine proper quantity in square meter equivalents (SMEs) to apply to a quantitative restraint);

HTSUS chapter notes and additional U.S. notes to HTSUS chapters;

Country of origin (where the goods were grown, produced, or manufactured)

Determine the HTSUS number.

Contact an import specialist at a local port of entry to discuss particular products and plans. Although import specialists can provide only advisory guidance, importers benefit from their experience on specialized commodity teams. To locate a port of entry, visit the Locate a Port of Entry [1] webpage.

Request a binding ruling from either the National Commodity Specialist Division, Regulations and Rulings (RR) in New York or the RR Headquarters office pursuant to 19 CFR 177.

Query the Customs Rulings Online Search System (CROSS) for binding rulings previously issued on similar merchandise.

Review the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States [2] (HTSUS).

Hire an expert (i.e., customhouse broker, consultant, or lawyer).

Determine the textile category number (if applicable). The category is the three-digit number listed in parentheses next to the HTSUS number used for converting from the reporting quantity as noted in the HTSUS (i.e., dozen, kilogram) to the SME, the unit of measure for the restraint limit. These conversion factors are not listed in the HTSUS, but are available on the Department of Commerce, Office of Textiles and Apparel web page dedicated to the textile and apparel category system.

Determine whether the merchandise qualifies for preferential treatment and is subject to a restraint limit under a Free Trade Agreement [3] or other special trade program.

If the merchandise qualifies for preferential treatment, refer to the Commodity Status Report for Tariff Rate Quotas [4]. This weekly report provides information on imported merchandise subject to tariff rate quotas or tariff preference levels. The four most recent reports are posted to the web site. This report contains information about food/agriculture and non-textile products in addition to textiles and is a useful tool to monitor quota utilization.

Any additional relevant information for a particular quota is posted on the CBP website in the form of Quota Book Transmittals [5] and Textile Book Transmittals [6].

Review the CBP Regulations related to quota (19 CFR 132).

Office Hours for Quota Processing

For purposes of administering quotas, official office hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. in all time zones, excluding holidays.

For purposes of administering quotas, an entry presented after 4:30 p.m. would be reported as 8:30 a.m.

Opening moment entries made as of midnight opening day (local port time) will be process as if they entered at 12:00 noon eastern standard time.  Entries made before 12:00 midnight (local port time) will not be considered for the opening moment.

Entries made for opening day will not be recognized before midnight (local port time) for opening day.

The holiday is observed on Friday if the holiday falls on Saturday or Monday if the holiday falls on Sunday. CBP offices are not open nor will ACE process quota on these days. If the first day of the quota period falls on a non-workday, the first working day of the quota period would be the opening day.

Basic Data Elements Needed

To charge an entry to a quota, CBP looks for certain basic data requirements, including:

Date and time of presentation to CBP;

Entry number with entry type properly designating a quota entry;

Importer number;

HTSUS classification number;

Quantity and unit of measure;

Country of origin;

Certificate, license, or other documents if appropriate; and

Payment of duties and fees.

If these elements are missing or incorrect, CBP will reject the entry for correction. The corrected entry summary will be given a new date and time of presentation once submission of the entry summary in proper form is confirmed.

Examples of common errors include:

The entry is not properly designated as a quota-type entry (incorrect entry type code).

The merchandise is incorrectly classified.

An incorrect value is listed.

The incorrect country of origin/export is listed.

The quantity/reporting unit of measure are incorrect.

The manufacturer's identification number (MID) is incorrectly constructed.

Information on an export certificate, visa, license, or other required documentation is missing, invalid, or incomplete.

The entry summary is submitted not in proper form missing one of the following.

Date of arrival

Entry Summary Submission Error Free

Date of Payment

Operation Under a First-Come, First-Served (FCFS) System

The date and time of presentation to CBP determines the quota processing order.  Date and time of presentation is established by the latest of the date of arrival (as advised by the logistics provider), the entry summary date error free, and the date of payment.

Quota priority is the precedence granted to one entry over other entries subject to the same quota. For example, if one entry is presented in the morning and another in the afternoon and both shipments are subject to the same quota, the entry submitted in the morning would have priority because it was submitted earlier.

Quota status is the standing that entitles merchandise to a reduced rate of duty under a tariff-rate quota or to any other trade benefit. In the example of the two entries above, if the quota filled at noon, the entry presented in the morning would have an accepted status; the entry presented in the afternoon would not.

Date and time are established off the latest of these 3 dates

Date of arrival, date of payment, and date of Entry Summary Submission that is error free.

No; quota cannot be reserved. Quota is only assigned when the entry is in proper form (with arrival date as advised by the logistics provider).  Priority cannot be granted prior to the arrival of the merchandise in the U.S.

Presentation in Proper Form

For quota reporting purposes, presentation of an entry summary (or warehouse withdrawal) for consumption in proper form means that the entry summary is complete, does not contain any errors, and contains the information necessary for CBP to determine whether the merchandise is entitled to quota status and priority. CBP reviews the entry summary to ensure:

All required documentation is attached (CBP forms, invoices, packing list, bills of lading, applicable licenses/certificates/export documents - including electronic transmission when applicable);

The merchandise is classified correctly; and

Applicable duties and fees are either paid or successfully scheduled to be paid electronically.

If entry summary documents are not in proper form, they are returned to the filer for correction.  The quota will not be in pending status.  When the filer resubmits the corrected entry summary, this establishes a new date and time presentation for quota reporting purposes. If the quota has filled in the meantime, the importer is not entitled to the in-quota (low) rate of duty or other benefits.

Filing for Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Exclusions

Exclusion filings for countries of origin in a quota program require two HTS numbers – a CH 99 HTS and the goods classification Chapter HTS.

Importers can apply for an individual Product Exclusion ID through the Department of Commerce (DOC) website  There is also a list of General Approved Exclusions (GAEs) updated in FRN 86 FR 70003.  (See next question.)

The most recent GAE list (updated by Commerce on Dec 9, 2021) for steel and aluminum are shown here:

Steel GAEs






















































































Aluminum GAEs
















Please refer to the chart below for details by country.  Both GAE HTS and importer specific exclusion approved by DOC follow the same quota filing rules. Individual exclusion numbers must be indicated in the 7501.

Steel Filing

Country of Origin

Steel Exclusion First Tariff Field

Steel Exclusion Entry Type

Argentina, Brazil, and Korea


Quota Entry

European Union

Use Applicable Ch. 72/73 HTS only

Non-Quota Entry



Quota Entry

United Kingdom


Quota Entry

All Other countries of origin

Use Applicable Ch. 72/73 HTS only

Non-Quota Entry


Aluminum Filing

Country of Origin

Aluminum Exclusion First Tariff Field

Aluminum Exclusion Entry Type



Quota Entry

Brazil or Korea

Use Applicable Ch. 76 HTS only

Non-Quota Entry

European Union


Quota Entry


Use Applicable Ch. 76 HTS only

Non-Quota Entry

United Kingdom


Quota Entry

All Other countries of origin

Use Applicable Ch. 76 HTS only

Non-Quota Entry


Quota 'Holds'

The quota hold message can be generated for many valid reasons, for example:

An in-quota (low) rate restraint limit may be close to filling (threshold reached) and HQ Quota wants to monitor to ensure the quota is not overfilled;

The goods may be subject to a popular quota and opening moment procedures are in place (intentional programming) so that HQ Quota can review everything presented for the opening prior to release in order to determine whether a proration is needed (see Sections XIII and XIV).

HQ Quota wants to verify that documentation requirements are satisfied prior to allowing use of the in-quota (low) rate provision (intentional programming).

The threshold is a quantity limit set in the automated system by HQ Quota that, when reached, triggers the weekly commodity status report that is posted on Mondays to display that quota as potentially filled. The percentage varies on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of HQ Quota, but is generally set at 95% of the restraint limit.  This POTF status is advice to the filer.

Filling a Quota

CBP uses the date and time of presentation to establish quota priority (first come first serve).  When a quota fills the last entry may be prorated.  When an entry is prorated (each line) receives a portion of the in quota rate and the balance may be entered at high rate or be entered into a bonded warehoused, FTZ, sent back, abandoned or destroyed.  Excess merchandise that is an Absolute Quota cannot enter the US commerce and may reapply for quota status for the next opening.

Additional information regarding proration, options for merchandise imported in excess of quota restraint limits, and closing of quotas can be found in CBP's regulations; 19 CFR part 132, specifically sections 132.5, 132.12, and 132.13.

The original date and time of presentation are maintained when any revised entry summaries subject to the proration are resubmitted.

Importer's Options for Quantities in Excess of TRQ Restraints

If the merchandise has not yet been released from CBP custody, an importer has several options:

Enter the goods paying the over-quota (high) duty rate amount;

Place the goods in a bonded warehouse or foreign trade zone and hold them until the new quota period opens;

Export the merchandise; or

Destroy the merchandise under CBP supervision.

If the importer has taken possession of the goods under the immediate delivery procedures (entry with summary to follow), the importer must submit the entry summary accompanied by payment of the over-quota (high) rate of duty.

Importer's Options for Quantities in Excess of TPL Restraints

Merchandise imported in excess of the TPL or determined not to be eligible for the TPL are subject to the HTSUS column one rate of duty and subject to any associated restrictions that may be in effect at the time.

Opening Moment

Based on the fill history of specific quota limits that are known to be popular, HQ Quota issues instructions to the field and trade, notifying of the decision to implement special procedures referred to as opening moment for the opening of a quota period. This is done because the quantities presented for the opening are often in excess of the restraint limit.

If CBP allowed automatic release of the entire quantities in these instances, these quotas would overfill because the total quantity presented by all importers is greater than the amount of quota available (also called oversubscribing) and all filers would not have an equal opportunity to take advantage of the in-quota (low) duty rate.

Opening moment entries made as of midnight opening day (local port time) will be process as if they entered at 12:00 noon eastern standard time.  Entries made before 12:00 midnight (local port time) will not be considered for the opening moment.

Entries made for opening day  will not be recognized before midnight (local port time) for opening day.

HQ Quota reviews the universe of lines on "hold" for the opening after allowing HQ Quota sufficient time (three to five days) for reporting all entry summaries received. HQ Quota reviews the lines on hold for several reasons:

To ensure that the date and time of presentation is reported correctly using opening moment procedures.

To ensure that no one importer is attempting to enter more than the restraint limit; and

To compare the total quantity presented to the available quantity (quota limit) and determine if the quota is potentially filled (oversubscribed) and if proration is necessary.

After waiting three to five days to be sure all entries for consideration have been submitted, HQ Quota issues a notice to the field and trade notifying all interested parties of the results of the opening.

If the quota did not oversubscribe at opening, the message states that merchandise presented for the opening has been released and normal processing resumes. Note: It is possible that the fill could occur soon after the opening depending on the balance available and quantities presented.

If the quota does oversubscribe at opening, the message states that a proration is necessary to ensure fair and equitable distribution of the quota   The notice also provides the pro-rata percentage. Once notified, the importer must decide on disposition of their shipments.

The importer has several options as to how they can take their allocated amount, as long as the merchandise has not been released from CBP custody and the aggregate quantity taken does not exceed their allowed pro-rata allocation.

A proration may be taken across all entry summaries using the pro-rata percentage of each presented quantity. The proration may be taken on selected entry summaries (the importer elects to adjust the allocation of their allotment using varying quantities, without going over the total quantity allowed). For both of these options, the local port receives the information from the filer and in turn relays the request to HQ Quota. The third option is called a transfer of allotment, and is similar to option 2. However, the entry summaries are filed at different ports. In this case, the request is received, reviewed, and approved by HQ Quota. Once approved, all impacted ports receive a copy of the information and one port is designated as the lead.

Whichever option is chosen, the importer's calculations for the proration can not exceed their allocation. Each line must be reported individually, including entry summaries/lines where the quantity to be taken is "0". No decision will be made or merchandise authorized for release until information for all relevant entry summaries associated with a particular importer number has been received and reviewed to ensure the allocation has not been exceeded.

The original date and time of presentation is maintained when any revised entry summaries subject to the proration are resubmitted. This continues to designate the entry summaries as part of the opening.

Filers are advised that it is not advantageous to file entries for merchandise subject to a TRQ expected to oversubscribe at opening utilizing Automated Clearing House (ACH) as a form of payment. If the quota does oversubscribe at opening, the total duty amount for the quantity of merchandise presented for entry must be paid, regardless of the proration. This is of particular interest when a proration becomes necessary. CBP is not able to correct entry summary information or issue refunds until payment is received. The best alternative is for filers to submit ABI/non-statement payments. This relieves the filer from having to request an administrative refund.


A proration is the allocation of a percentage of the quantity of goods entered (and subject to the same quota) compared to the quantity available (restraint limit) for that quota. Prorations are necessary primarily when the quantities of all entry summaries or withdrawals for consumption presented exceeds the restraint limit for a popular quota that oversubscribes at opening. The proration is based on a comparison of the total quantity presented in relation to the quantity available. The calculation of this percentage ensures that each importer receives an equal share of the quota relative to what they properly presented. An importer may not request more than the total allocation by presenting a quantity in excess of the quota limit (prohibited per 19 CFR 132.4).

No; the allocated amount is calculated based on the total quantity presented for each unique importer number.

HQ Quota waits three to five business days before calculating and announcing a proration in order to ensure a through review of all submissions.  The proration is based on the accurate universe of entry summaries. At that time, HQ Quota issues a public notice.

Provided the importer has not taken possession of the goods, they can take any amount (including nothing) on a line or entry summary, as long as the aggregate quantity taken does not exceed the total pro-rata allocation allowed that importer. Each line must be reported individually, including entry summaries/lines where the quantity to be taken is "0"

A transfer of allotment is an option for importers who have filed entry summaries that are impacted by the proration at multiple ports. The aggregate presented quantity exceeds their allocation. Rather than take the prorated amounts by port, this option allows the importer to take more of the quantity at one location and less at another, but not more than the total prorated quantity allowed for that importer. The Filer should be the coordinating office/liaison to HQ Quota, however a CBP contact at all port offices involved should receive a copy of the request. HQ Quota must approve the request, and no decision will be made or merchandise authorized for release until information related to all relevant entry summaries at all impacted ports has been received and reviewed to ensure the allocation has not been exceeded.

No; a transfer of allotment may only be used by one importer (unique importer number) who has entries at more than one port location.

Filers are expected to retransmit corrected entry summaries , including applicable duties, within five working days after the proration is announced. It is the importer's responsibility to notify CBP how they want to allocate their proration. Otherwise, they risk losing quota status for their merchandise.

HQ Quota often uses a proration to fill a quota during the quota period when more than one entry summary having the same date and time of presentation was submitted for merchandise subject to the same quota and the quantity presented exceeds the available balance.

Special Permit for Immediate Delivery

Release of quota-class merchandise under a special permit for immediate delivery before proper presentation of an entry summary does not grant any priority or status, nor entitle the goods to any other quota benefit. When merchandise subject to a TRQ is released using ID procedures, quota priority and status are still determined by the date and time of presentation and are not granted until the entry summary is presented in proper form. In addition, the entry summary must be filed within 10 working days after the merchandise is authorized for release OR within the quota period, WHICHEVER OCCURS FIRST (19 CFR 142.23). Therefore, even if TRQ merchandise is released on the last day of the quota period, the entry summary must still be filed in proper form by close of business on that day.

Even if merchandise subject to a TRQ is released by special permit for immediate delivery prior to the end of the quota period and the quota has not filled, there is no guarantee of the in-quota rate based on the date of the ID (entry). Sufficient balance must be available when the summary and payment of duties are presented, or else the over-quota (high) rate applies. Even if the claim for preference at the in-quota (low) rate of duty is accepted, liquidated damages may still be assessed for untimely filing of the entry summary in this scenario as well, because the quota period ended prior to the 10 days allowed to file an entry summary.

Reports and Resources to Track Fill Rates - Weekly Commodity Status Report for Tariff-Rate Quotas

The Commodity Status Report for Tariff-Rate Quotas reflects the restraint limit, quantity entered to date (expressed numerically), and the percentage utilized for commodities subject to tariff-rate quotas and tariff preference levels associated with free trade agreements. When a quota fills, the date and time of fill are indicated whenever possible. Both textile and agricultural/non-textile products are included. An updated report is posted on a weekly basis. Once the quota period for the commodity ends, information for the new period appears on the report. The four most recent Commodity Status Reports  remain posted. Additionally, end-of-year archived reports are also available.

The report consists of three groups of quotas:

Agriculture/non-textile tariff-rate quotas associated with a free trade agreement listed in alphabetical order by country, then sequential by note;

Quotas established in the HTSUS in order by chapter and note; and

Tariff preference levels for textiles and wearing apparel associated with a free trade agreement listed in alphabetical order by country, then sequential by note/number.

The fields on the Commodity Status Report relate to basic definitions and concepts associated with quota:

"Period“ The length of time (i.e., calendar year) the current quota is in effect. The report lists beginning and end dates.

"Country“ Quotas may be global (not designated by country), specific to a country, or specific to a group of countries as defined by the scope of the quota.

"Unit of Measure“ The reporting quantity applicable for the quota (i.e., kilograms, square meters). This frequently corresponds to the reporting quantity associated with the relevant HTS provisions.

"Q-Level“ The restraint limit for the quota during the current period; this may apply to a global/regional quota or country-specific limit, or a country's minimum guaranteed quantity.

"Ent-Qty“ How much has been charged to the quota to date.

"% Filled“ The quantity entered to date expressed as a percentage of the restraint limit.

"Low Filled“ The in-quota (low) rate for a tariff-rate quota or tariff preference level is exhausted for the remainder of the quota period.

"MAQ“ Minimum Access Quantity. An MAQ guarantees specific countries access to not less than a specified portion of a quota's aggregate limit. The aggregate and unfilled MAQ limits remain available until balances are exhausted. Once an MAQ amount is reached, the country may continue to utilize the remaining amount in the global ("or all others") limit while a balance remains available. (See Section XVII for more information on MAQs)

"Banned“ Technically, the quota exists, but for some reason (i.e., special instructions to implement needed from another agency) nothing may be charged to the quota at the present time.

The countries may not be in alphabetical order when multiple limits are established for the same quota because CBP's database orders the records according to the two-character International Standards Organization (ISO) code, which is not necessarily alphabetical.

With the large amount of constantly changing content that must be posted to our website, space availability is a consideration. Additionally, given the environment of shared responsibility, CBP felt that while the port offices and Headquarters should be available for help, the importing community must be vigilant in monitoring issues of concern to them.

Reports and Resources to Track Fill Rates - Reports and Resources to Track Fill Rates

There are several tools available on the CBP website to assist the trade community in tracking quota restraint utilization activity:

Commodity Status Report for Tariff Rate,

Tariff Rate Quota/Tariff Preference Level Threshold/Fill Quick Reference List, and

Historical Tariff-Quota/Tariff Preference Level Fill Rate.

When adjustments are made to a restraint limit or quantities reported are corrected, these changes will impact the ratio of the limit (available) to amount used (charged).

Reports and Resources to Track Fill Rates-Historical Fill Rate Tables

The TRQ/TPL Fill Rate Tables are an at-a-glance record of restraint limit fill activity for completed quota periods.

Each table is dedicated to a specific quota or related group of quotas. TRQ and TPL limits are listed by year/quota period and country where applicable. Multiple limits associated with the same quota/commodity, including minimum access quantities, are included. Wherever appropriate, the workbooks contain multiple worksheets.

Reports and Resources to Track Fill Rates-Quota Bulletins

Quota Bulletins (QBs) are CBP's instructions to the field offices and the trade community. Most QBs are commodity-specific, but they can also address general processing information or other issues. Information is posted prior to the implementation of a new quota or opening of a new quota period for an existing restraint limit.

The basic information included in a QB includes:

  • The quota period;
  • The restraint limit;
  • The opening day of the quota period;
  • Applicable HTSUS numbers for both the in-quota (low) and over-quota (high) duty rates;
  • Applicability of special procedures for quotas expected to oversubscribe at opening moment;
  • The list of entry types properly reportable as quota; and
  • Any special notes or requirements.

The QB numbering system is designed to eliminate duplication of general information that applies to the overall quota process, regardless of the commodity being imported.

Reports and Resources to Track Fill Rates-TRQ/TPL Threshold/Fill Quick Reference List

The Tariff Rate Quota/Tariff Preference Level Threshold/Fill Quick Reference List is an at-a-glance report of quotas that are filled or close to filling.

The report is divided into two sections: in-quota (low) rate restraint limits that have reached at least 85% and in-quota (low) rate restraint limits that have filled. The report is reviewed daily and the posting updated as necessary.

Minimum Access Quantities

Several tariff-rate quotas have Minimum Access Quantities (MAQs) built into them. This means that a particular country or group of countries is entitled to a guaranteed limit that is set aside out of the overall (any country) restraint limit and specifically designated for them. This is a bit different from tariff-rate quotas that have limits assigned to a country or group of countries and then a limit designated with terminology such as "all others" or "other countries". The wording of an MAQ guarantees that a country or group of countries "shall have access to a quantity of not less than" a specified amount.

Once an MAQ amount is reached, these countries may utilize any remaining balance of the "any country" limit until this is exhausted.

The following quotas have MAQs associated with them:

Chapter 4, Additional U.S. Note 5 Milk and Cream

Chapter 4, Additional U.S. Note 10 Dairy Products

Chapter 4, Additional U.S. Note 11 Milk and Cream, Condensed or Evaporated

Chapter 18, Additional U.S. Note 2 Chocolate

Chapter 18, Additional U.S. Note 3 Chocolate Crumb

Chapter 21, Additional U.S. Note 5 Ice Cream

Chapter 23, Additional U.S. Note 2 Animal Feed

Chapter 52, Additional U.S. Note 5 Cotton

Chapter 52, Additional U.S. Note 9 Cotton

The specific countries and corresponding limits can be found on the Commodity Status Report for Tariff Rate Quotas.

Agricultural Safeguards

Agricultural safeguards are divided into two mutually exclusive types: value-based and quantity-based. Value-based safeguards (determined by unit value of the goods) are the normal course of business unless CBP is directed by the Secretary of Agriculture that the quantity-based safeguards are to be used due to analysis of market activity.  Agriculture safeguards are currently not managed by the Quota and Agriculture Branch.  Safeguards related to duty/limits are processed through the entry summary module.  

General Note 15

GN 15 of the HTSUS exempts agricultural products from quota restrictions that would normally be reported as subject to a tariff-rate quota. However, these commodities are exempted from quota restrictions only under certain circumstances.

The exemption under GN 15 applies to:

Products imported by or for the account of any agency of the U.S. Government;

Products imported for the personal use of the importer, provided that the net quantity of such product in any one shipment does not exceed 5 kilograms;

Products which will not enter the commerce of the United State, imported as samples for taking orders, for exhibition, display or sampling at a trade fair, for research, for use by embassies of foreign governments or for testing of equipment, provided that written approval of the Secretary of Agriculture (USDA) is presented at the time of entry;

Certain blended syrups; and Certain cotton.

Special Processing

All imports of beef under the TRQ in Chapter 2, Additional U.S. Note 3 from Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Uruguay require an export certificate in order to qualify for the in-quota (low) duty rate.

The beef export certificate is not required for release of the merchandise. And, as long as the document was not omitted because of willful negligence or fraudulent intent, the certificate may be filed any time prior to the liquidation becoming final. However, if an importer does not claim the in-quota (low) duty rate at the time of entry summary and files a claim prior to final liquidation, only if the quota is available in sufficient balance is the importer entitled to the in-quota (low) duty rate.

The tuna quota restraint limit is determined by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Complete data needed for NMFS to calculate apparent consumption is not available until mid-March. NMFS informs CBP of the final restraint limit as soon as possible after the calculation is completed. Therefore, CBP announces the quota opening on January 1 with a preliminary (estimated) restraint limit provided by NMFS in December.

In order to ensure that all importers are given the opportunity to take advantage of the tuna quota at the in-quota (low) duty rate in the event that the total quantity presented at opening exceeds the final quota limit, importers are required to follow opening moment procedures. Additionally, importers must use one of the over-quota (high) duty rate HTSUS provisions, and deposit the corresponding duty in order to obtain release of the merchandise. Liquidation of entry summaries properly presented for the opening is withheld until CBP receives the final restraint limit. At that time, HQ Quota calculates the proration if necessary and issues proration/liquidation information to the field and trade so that refunds can be processed.

In most cases, an entry summary will have liquidated with a date in the future. This allows port personnel to unset the liquidation and issue the refund without difficulty. The exception is warehouse entry summaries for which a final withdrawal has been submitted. These entry summaries have an abbreviated liquidation cycle and, if inadvertently allowed to liquidate, the final liquidation of the warehouse entry may occur prior to the receipt of the final restraint limit. Importers who may find themselves in this situation are advised to coordinate with the port where the eligible entry summaries were filed and submit protests as appropriate to ensure proper processing of applicable refunds once the final proration is determined.

To be deemed valid, a CQE must have the following information:

CQE number;

Current quota period;


Name of shipper; and

Signature or stamp by a certifying official.

Imports of raw sugar are sampled and sent to CBP labs to determine the out-turn weight. The final out-turn weight is critical for correct reporting against a country's quota limit. The lab results are used to update the quantities reported against the quota.

If, after final out-turn weights are received, a country's quota limit is exceeded, then the overage is reported against the next year's limit, thereby reducing the amount of sugar the country can import at the in-quota (low) duty rate.

When an entry summary of raw cane sugar subject to a TRQ is initially presented, the entered quantity is multiplied by a factor of 1.04375 and the new quantity reported. This factoring is meant to take into account the anticipated adjustments in out-turn weight associated with the purity (polarity) determinations received from the lab. Once a lab report is received, final adjustments for quantity are made and the weight is reported based on the lab results. This also may explain some confusion regarding sudden changes to the fill rate or initial entered quantity on an individual entry summary line.

Raw sugar from a country without a TRQ quantity allocation may be entered at the over-quota (high) duty rate. In this case, no CQE is required. However, shipments entered at the over-quota duty rate may be subject to additional agricultural safeguard duties  depending on the country of origin.

USTR determines the Tariff Rate Quota quantity limits for refined and specialty sugar. Normally, there is one combined (global) opening for both refined and specialty sugar. The initial opening is for refined and specialty sugar on a global first-come, first-served basis with no certificate required. There are also subsequent openings for specialty sugar, for which a specialty sugar certificate issued by USDA is required. Specialty sugar certificates may be issued for either the entire quota period or a specific opening within the quota period. After the global allocation fills, there is also a separate quota available for refined sugar from Canada for which an original CQE is required.

USDA Licensing

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) uses the agricultural import licensing program as a tool for quota administration. A license is required to obtain a lower duty rate for most dairy products such as milk and cheese that are subject to a Tariff Rate Quota.

Licenses have specific limitations. They identify key information such as the product, country of origin, and maximum quantity allowed to be imported under that license. Importers can not import different products or larger quantities than what they are licensed to import.

In order to qualify for a license, an applicant must meet specific guidelines. For example, they must be a U.S. company. Eligibility is also determined by the applicant's import history (number of shipments, quantity) during the past year. Applications are submitted in the fall. Licenses are issued in late December and are good for the entire next year until the quota fills.

Yes; merchandise subject to USDA import licensing may be entered without the license, however the merchandise must be classified under an HTSUS provision associated with the over-quota (high) duty rate.

Post Summary Corrections

Requests for PSCs  occur when an entry requires correction and contains a quota line.  If the quota line is not reserved by HQ Quota it will be lost during the PSC process.  

The date and time of presentation of the quota line will change if the line has not been reserved by HQ Quota.  If the line is reserved the original date and time are maintained.  If a line is not reserved the presentation date of the quota line will be the date of the PSC.


Textiles - General Requirements

Textiles and wearing apparel imported for commercial use may be subject to quota and visa requirements associated with preferential duty treatment, depending on the country where the goods are produced. It is also critical to know the classification of the goods, and the associated 3-digit category number, if applicable, in order to determine whether quota or visa restrictions apply to the particular item.

Personal importation of textiles and wearing apparel are not usually subject to quota and visa restrictions and generally clear CBP informally (no bond required). However, the port director may require a formal entry if deemed necessary for admissibility/enforcement purposes, revenue protection, or efficient conducting of CBP business. In practical application, importation of large quantities of the same or similar merchandise or a high value may be potential indications of shipments imported for resale rather than personal use.


Sets incorporating textile components that require a visa are  subject to quota restrictions. . If  a textile component is only part of the set and the classification is based on another component that imparts the essential character of the set, visa and quota requirements would still apply to any textile component of the set.

Sets classified according to General Rule of Interpretation (GRI) 3 must be identified with an 'X' preceding the HTSUS number used to derive the duty rate. Each of the other lines associated with the components of the set should be identified with a 'V' preceding the HTSUS number. These lines should also indicate the country of origin, value, and reporting quantities. Each component of the set, including the article designated with the 'X' prefix, must be reported on a separate line as if it were separately classified.

Textiles-Used and Worn Clothing

When used clothing is imported into the U.S. to be donated to an individual, company, or charitable organization these goods are not exempt from complying with CBP requirements for wearing apparel. Used clothing imported into the U.S. for sale is subject to the same quota restrictions and duty, marking, and entry requirements as new clothing and is classified under the appropriate HTSUS provision (i.e., Chapter 61 or 62).

Used clothing is subject to duty based on the value of the clothing. If the used clothing has been purchased at a flea market, second hand store, etc., the receipt can be used as the declared value. If the clothing has been donated, the value should be based on what an identical item would cost used (for example, the value of an identical item at a secondhand or consignment store). Essentially, the value declared should be comparable to fair market value.

Textiles - Textile Visas

The textile visa is an endorsement in the form of an export document issued by a foreign government that authorizes the export of textile shipments to the U.S. It describes the shipment and authorizes the goods to be charged against any applicable quota limit and/or receive preferential duty treatment. The visa is executed by an authorized official of a foreign government. It is used to control the exportation of textile and apparel products to the U.S. and prevent the unauthorized granting of preferential duty treatment or entry of controlled textiles into the U.S.

A textile visa is needed when importing goods from a country with which the U.S. has negotiated limitations on the quantity allowed into the U.S. for a specific period of time or as a requirement in order to receive preferential duty treatment under special trade legislation.

No; any changes or alterations made to information contained on the visa stamp render the visa invalid and unacceptable.

If a paper visa or electronic transmission has incorrect or missing data or the shipment arrives without a required paper visa or electronic transmission, then no preferential benefits are granted. The importer must submit a replacement visa and/or arrange for the transmission of the information by the foreign government. If the values on the visa and invoice do not match, the importer must provide CBP with a reasonable explanation for the difference. If the importer is unable to supply a reasonable explanation, they should contact the issuing government and request a replacement visa and/or retransmission. If the importer has already submitted a paper visa to CBP, they can obtain a certified copy of the visa from CBP to provide to the issuing country. CBP will not return the original visa to the importer.

CBP will allow the importer adequate time to obtain the replacement visa and/or retransmission. However, it is in the importer's best interest to expedite the process if possible to avoid incurring storage charges either by the carrier or a warehouse. When no admissibility concerns are involved, the importer may obtain release of the goods by paying the regular duty rate and submitting a post-entry claim for preferential treatment after the issue is resolved.

When an entry summary has been rejected because the visa is invalid, CBP does not return the paper visa. A certified copy of the original may be given to the filer upon request. If CBP rejects the entry summary for an issue not related to the visa, then the original visa may accompany the entry package back to the filer.

The minimum reporting quantity is 1 unit. Beyond that, quantities of less than half a unit should be rounded down. Quantities of one-half or more should be rounded up. Small overages due to rounding can be accepted.  

For overages of 10 percent or less, the port director may accept the visa presented to CBP, release the quantity covered by the visa, and allow for the destruction, exportation, or abandonment of the excess quantities. The excess amount may not be released using a new visa/transmission or visa waiver. If the importer chooses not to export, destroy, or abandon the excess amount, they must obtain a new visa/transmission or visa waiver for the entire quantity before any portion of the shipment may be released.

Overages greater than 10 percent invalidate the visa and the importer must present a new visa/transmission or visa waiver covering the entire quantity of the shipment before any amount of the merchandise can be released.

No; the textile visa is an endorsement in the form of a stamp on an invoice or export control license that is executed by a foreign government. It is used to control the exportation of textiles and textile product to the U.S. and to prohibit unauthorized entry of the merchandise into the country. The certificate of eligibility is prepared in connection with a claim involving non-originating textiles and textile apparel goods claiming TPL preference. Currently, neither a visa nor a certificate of eligibility is an admissibility requirement or condition of release of the goods.

The absence of the visa does not prevent release of the merchandise,  the goods may still enter the U.S. commerce,  will not be eligible to claim preferential duty treatment and  have to pay the higher duty rate. If a visa is subsequently obtained, the importer may make a post-entry claim for the preferential duty rate, if the balance in any applicable quota is not exhausted.

A visa may be used for more than one shipment, if shipment of quota-class merchandise is split  by the carrier or freight forwarder without the knowledge  of the importer, exporter, or manufacturer  the importer may file a separate entry summary for each shipment. The original visa with the documentation for the initial shipment and use a CBP certified copy for subsequent shipments. If the importer, exporter, or manufacturer  decide to  the shipment,  a separate visa is required for each shipment. Importers should contact the port for any specific local procedures.

Export Certificates and Similar Documents

For many specific types of commodities, an endorsement by a foreign government or its representative is required to signify that the shipments are authorized for export to the U.S. This endorsement is often in the form of a uniquely identifiable export certificate, certificate of eligibility, license, or similar document that must be presented to qualify the shipment for in-quota (low) or tariff preference rates of duty. The program can be paper-based, automated, or both. CBP considers fulfillment of this requirement part of being in proper form for quota administration purposes.

No; possession of a certificate or similar document does not guarantee the preferential duty rate. Quota must be available in sufficient quantity at the time the claim is made for benefits to be allowed.

No; the absence of certificate/license information does not prevent release of the merchandise. If a shipment is not accompanied by a certificate or license, the goods may still enter the U.S. commerce, but will not be eligible for preferential duty treatment. The importer can have the goods, but will have to pay the higher duty rate if the license or certificate is not properly provided or the in-quota (low) rate balance of the applicable quota is exhausted.

No; CPB regulations state that whenever a document, form, or statement is required to be filed in connection with an entry claiming duty free or a reduced duty, as long as the failure to file it was not due to willful negligence or fraudulent intent, it may be filed at any time prior to liquidation becoming final.

Quota is charged to the quota period in which the entry summary is presented OR the goods are released, whichever is earlier, and the certificate is only good for the year issued. The certificate number must match the year corresponding to date of entry of the goods, not the date of export. This includes certificates issued by a foreign government submitted with a post-entry claim, provided the date on the certificate number matches the date of entry of the goods. If the period in which the quota is charged doesn't agree with the period indicated by the certificate number, a mismatch occurs when reporting quota and the filer may need to forfeit the claim or obtain new documents.

Electronic Visa Information System (ELVIS) and Electronic Certification System (eCERT)

Information transmitted by the foreign government is held, pending transmission of entry information from the importer to CBP. Once the importer transmits entry information to CBP, the information is processed in the automated system. If the certificate information transmitted by the importer matches the data transmitted by the foreign government, the claim for a preferential duty rate is approved, provided there is a sufficient balance remaining at the in-quota (low) duty rate. If the information does not match, the entry summary is returned to the importer for correction of the entry summary itself and/or the transmission.

If an error message is received indicating lack of an ELVIS/eCERT transmission from the foreign government, then CBP rejects the entry summary to the filer. It is the filer's responsibility to address the issue, for example by contacting their supplier or other liaison and requesting that they follow up with the appropriate foreign officials.

No; the absence of certificate/license information does not prevent release of the merchandise. If a shipment is not accompanied by a transmission, the goods may still enter the U.S. commerce, but will not be eligible for preferential duty treatment. The importer can have the goods, but will have to pay the higher duty rate if the transmission is not properly provided or the in-quota (low) rate balance of the applicable quota is exhausted.

Participation in the ELVIS and eCERT programs provides a variety of benefits, including:

Security - ELVIS and eCERT data move electronically between government systems. Safeguards are in place to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the information.

Reduced fraud - There is less opportunity for counterfeit paper documents to be used because the information provided by the importer/broker must match the information transmitted by the foreign government. Paper documents are more susceptible to tampering.

Improved compliance - Data discrepancies are decreased because the importer/broker's entry data must match the foreign government's export information. Both governments maintain control over the transmissions and data

Improved monitoring - Statistical reporting and tracking of certificates/licenses is enhanced. ELVIS and eCERT allow the participating governments to monitor document utilization via electronic reports they can request as frequently as necessary.

Timeless processing - ELVIS and eCERT participants are authorized to transmit an electronic request or register a document at any time, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

Foreign governments indicate interest in participating by submitting a written request that includes:

The name of an approved network service provider that has been contracted to provide connectivity to CBP;

A copy of a signed agreement executed between the government and the provider appointed by them or proof of the foreign government's technical capability to connect directly to a network that is pre-certified by CBP; and

The name and contact information for the person(s) responsible for oversight of the program.

Once the request is received and reviewed, CBP will notify the requesting party whether development and testing may commence.

The initial design and development costs and schedule for development and testing depend on the availability of technical expertise in the participating country. Data transmission costs depend on the volume of transactions and the choice of software.

Countries participating in ELVIS and eCERT are required to transmit several mandatory data elements:

 A unique certificate number;

The date of issuance;

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule (classification) number;

The quantity;

The unit of measure; and

The manufacturer identification (name and address).

What procedures are in place in case of unforeseen technical difficulties?

During any period of time when ELVIS or eCERT is not operating, CBP can accept claims based on data provided by the foreign government via alternative means. The foreign government should promptly retransmit data that was affected by the system failure when the system resumes operation.

During any period of time when ELVIS or eCERT is not operating, CBP can accept claims based on data provided by the foreign government via alternative means. The foreign government should promptly retransmit data that was affected by the system failure when the system resumes operation.

Electronic transmissions are currently required for cheese and dairy products from Australia and textile/apparel products from Haiti and Singapore. If any additional countries become participants or the scope of current commodities changes, CBP will communicate the details and requirements to the field and trade.

Last Modified: May 09, 2023