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 and Presidential proclamations/Executive Orders issued pursuant to specific legislation. Some quotas are provided for in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States.
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Absolute quotas permit a strictly limited quantity of specified merchandise to be entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption during specified periods.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. Currently, no goods are subject to absolute quota restrictions.
Tariff-rate quotas permit a specified quantity of merchandise to be entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption at a reduced duty rate during a specific period.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 amounts during the quota period, but are subject to higher rates of duty.
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.
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.
What factors determine whether goods are subject to quota restrictions/restraint limits in order to receive preferential duty rates?
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); and
Date and time of importation/presentation.
- 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 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 (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 or other special trade program.
- If the merchandise qualifies for preferential treatment, refer to the Commodity Status Report for Tariff Rate Quotas. 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 CBP.gov 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 and Textile Book Transmittals.
- Review the CBP Regulations related to quota (19 CFR 132).
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.
For purposes of administering quotas, an entry presented between 4:30 p.m. and 8:30 am the next morning would be reported as 8:30 a.m.
How are designated federal holidays that fall on Saturday or Sunday treated for quota administration purposes?
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 to process quota. 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.
What data elements does CBP look for to report (charge) the quantity on an entry summary to a quota?
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 most likely be given a new date and time of presentation once submission of the entry summary in proper form is confirmed.
What are some examples of common errors made when submitting an entry summary for quota-class merchandise?
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 prior to the arrival of the merchandise in the U.S.
The date and time entry summary documents are presented to CBP is important in FCFS processing because, similar to people standing in a line, CBP needs to determine in what order filers are requesting trade benefits. When the quantity requested (presented) is more than the balance available, duty preference must be granted in order of request.
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.
When a filer submits an entry summary covering quota-class merchandise to the CBP office at the port of entry, they should "clock in" the record copy of the CBP Form 7501 (entry summary) using the date/time stamp machine available in the office. This becomes the official record that is maintained with the entry package. If CBP personnel do not find a date/time stamp on the document when processing quota, the date and time of quota processing is used to represent presentation.
No; quota cannot be reserved. Quota priority and status can not be granted prior to the arrival of the merchandise in the U.S.
For quota reporting purposes, presentation of an entry summary (or warehouse withdrawal) for consumption in proper form means that the entry package is complete, does not contain any obvious errors, and contains the information necessary for CBP to determine whether the merchandise is entitled to quota status and priority. CBP reviews the package 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 attached or successfully scheduled to be paid electronically.
If entry summary documents are not in proper form, they are returned to the filer for correction. 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.
I submitted my entry summary to the port and received a quota hold notification. What does this mean?
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).
What is a quota threshold and what does it mean when a hold message is generated because a quota has reached threshold?
The threshold is a quantity limit set in the automated system by HQ Quota that, when reached, triggers affected lines to be placed in a quota hold status. 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.
Under ordinary circumstances, quota information from entry summaries is automatically processed through the automated quota records until this threshold is reached. When entered quantities are placed in a hold status, this serves as a warning and indicates that the particular quota is approaching the restraint limit. This message does NOT necessarily mean that ports should be having filers resubmit their entries at the over-quota (high) rate of duty. Each day, HQ Quota runs a report of all quota lines on hold. The report is divided according to individual quotas and reviewed by HQ Quota staff. Shipments are released in order according to the date and time of presentation as long as a sufficient balance remains available.
All entries on "hold" for a particular quota are reviewed by HQ Quota staff. When a quota is about to fill (the presented quantity exceeds the available amount), HQ Quota waits three to five business days to allow port offices sufficient time to report all applicable entry summary lines they have received. This ensures that the importers entitled to benefits properly receive them.
Once HQ Quota determines which entry summary/summaries will fill the quota, CBP contacts the filer and advises them of the available amount. If the importer declines the offer, CBP proceeds to the next entry summary/summaries in order by date and time of presentation. If multiple entry summaries are presented with the same date and time of presentation, CBP prorates the available amount and offers the prorated quantities to the importer(s) involved. When considering an offer, an importer may accept a lesser amount, i.e., to accommodate how the goods are packaged. CBP would allow this, then close the quota. 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.
What date and time of presentation are used to report entry summaries resubmitted after being adjusted (prorated) to fill a quota?
The original date and time of presentation are maintained when any revised entry summaries subject to the proration are resubmitted. This is not an example of a scenario requiring a new date and time of presentation, such as correction of an error in the information initially submitted by the filer.
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.
What restrictions and/or duties apply to merchandise imported in excess of TPL limits or that do not qualify for a TPL?
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.
Based on the fill history of specific quota restraint limits that are known to be popular, HQ Quota issues instructions to the field and trade, notifying everyone 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.
How is the date and time of presentation treated differently for entry summaries associated with opening moment?
All entry summaries or withdrawals for consumption presented in proper form (including those submitted for review before the opening of the quota period as permitted and accompanied by the deposit or scheduled electronic payment of estimated duties) shall be considered for the opening and are treated as being presented simultaneously for quota reporting purposes. Entry summaries presented in proper form for opening moment are reported with the same date (opening day/first working day of the quota period) and time of opening moment (noon eastern standard time/1:00 p.m. eastern daylight savings time or its equivalent in other time zones). When the ports report the quota information, subject lines are placed in a quota "hold" status.
HQ Quota reviews the universe of lines on "hold" for the opening after allowing the port offices 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 (if not, the proper universe will not be captured);
- 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 restraint limit) and determine of the quota is potentially filled (oversubscribed) and a proration is necessary.
After waiting three to five days to be sure all port offices have finished reporting the subject quota lines, 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 until the 95% threshold is reached, triggering the quota "hold" manual review and release while the balance remains. 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 (see Section XIV). The notice also provides the pro-rata percentage. Once notified, the importer must decide on disposition of their shipments.
What are an importer's options when a quota oversubscribes at opening and a proration is deemed necessary?
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.
What date and time of presentation are used to report entry summaries resubmitted after being adjusted for a proration because the quota oversubscribed at opening?
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.
What is the potential impact for filers who elect to pay their duties via electronic payment when a quota is expected to oversubscribe at opening moment?
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).
May an importer with multiple importer numbers transfer their quota allotment from one importer number to another when calculating their prorated amount and determining how they want to allocate that quantity?
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 give the ports sufficient time to report all subject lines. This ensures the proration is based on the accurate universe of entry summaries. At that time, HQ Quota issues a public notice.
If an importer has numerous entry summaries for a proration, must the importer take their allocation equally on each eligible line?
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. One port 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 return corrected entry summaries to the port, 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.
When are quota priority and status granted for merchandise subject to a TRQ that is released using immediate delivery (ID) procedures?
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 (see Section VIII). 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.
What are the consequences when merchandise subject to a TRQ is released by a special permit for immediate delivery, the entry summary is filed after the quota period ends, and the quota has filled?
The end of the year/quota period impacts filing requirements for entries of quota-class merchandise. Since the entry summary must be filed within 10 working days or before the end of the quota period, whichever expires first, the port director may assess a claim for liquidated damages for late filing of the entry summary if the entry summary is not presented timely. Additionally, since quota is charged to the period in which the goods were released, if the quota filled prior to submission of the entry summary, the importer must pay the over-quota (high) rate of duty because they elected to take possession of the goods and the quota filled by the time the entry summary was submitted.
What are the consequences when merchandise subject to a TRQ is released by a special permit for immediate delivery, the entry summary is filed after the quota period ends, but the quota has NOT filled?
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.
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.
How is the Commodity Status Report organized?
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.
When a quota has individual limits for several countries, why are the lists of countries not always in alphabetical order?
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.
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.
Why do fill rates occasionally decrease from the amount I saw reported when I last checked utilization?
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 are the additional duties provided for in Heading 9904 of the HTSUS that are associated with over-quota (high) duty rate provisions. In order for quota to be properly reported, the Heading 9904 provision must be matched with an appropriate Chapter 1-97 provision. These combinations are specified in the HTSUS and also listed in the instructions for TRQ openings issued by HQ Quota.
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. CBP's programming is set up to accommodate the type of safeguard currently in place and disallow use of the non-active type. Should CBP receive instructions to activate the quantity-based safeguards, HQ Quota issues a notice to the field and trade as well as adjusts programming associated with quota reporting.
No; if the merchandise originates from a country with which the U.S. has a free trade agreement or other special program that exempts the goods from agricultural safeguard duties, a Heading 9904 provision is not required. Programming is in place to accommodate these exemptions when quota is reported. Currently, the exempted countries are: Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Jordan, Morocco, Mexico, Nicaragua, Oman, Peru, and Singapore. Refer to U.S. Notes 1 and 2 to Subchapter IV, Chapter 99 of the HTSUS for the most recent list of exempted countries and further information. Note: While the U.S. has an agreement covering certain agricultural products from Israel, this legislation does not provide for an exemption from the agricultural safeguard duties.
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.
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.
Must the export certificate be filed at the time of entry summary in order to claim 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.
If an entry summary associated with the tuna opening inadvertently liquidates prior to the receipt of the final restraint limit, does this impact the processing of refunds?
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.
Since not all countries are allocated a TRQ quantity of raw cane sugar, what are the requirements for shipments from countries without an allocation?
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 (see Section XVIII) depending on the country of origin.
USTR also determines the TRQ 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.
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 TRQ.
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 autumn. Licenses are issued in late December and are good for the entire year.
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.
Requests for post-entry relief are most often used for quota purposes when a foreign government issues certificates, licenses, or other documents, for example to meet the requirements for a preferential duty claim under a free trade agreement, or when corrected information for an entry summary subject to a quota must be submitted. As permitted by statute or regulations, an importer may present a claim (i.e., a post-entry amendment with revised entry summary, protest, etc.) to CBP after the initial entry summary is filed as a retroactive request for preferential duty treatment.
What determines the date and time of presentation for quota reporting purposes of a post-entry claim?
Submission of the post-entry claim to CBP determines the date and time of presentation for quota reporting purposes. Like any entry summary covering quota-class merchandise, documents supporting a post-entry claim are date/time stamped to substantiate submission to/receipt by CBP.
No; a claim may only be allowed if the applicable quota is not filled and a sufficient balance is available for the applicable quota period at the time the claim is submitted. On those occasions where the quota fills after receipt of a timely post-entry claim but before quota was reported by CBP, the ports can coordinate with HQ Quota to accept the request and report quota based on the fact that quota was available at the time the claim was properly submitted. Claims submitted after the quota filled must be denied.
Are commercial shipments of textiles and wearing apparel products subject to quota and visa 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.
Are shipments of textiles and wearing apparel products imported for personal use subject to quota and visa requirements?
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 would have required a visa and been subject to quota restrictions if imported separately must still meet those requirements. Therefore, even 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.
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.
There is a significant difference between used and worn clothing. There is a provision in the HTSUS (Heading 6309) that allows qualifying shipments of previously worn clothing to enter the U.S. free of duty and not subject to quota/visa or marking requirements. However, most shipments of used clothing imported commercially for sale would not be eligible for the Heading 6309 provision. In order to qualify, the goods must show signs of appreciable wear (meaning be in poor condition), and must be entered in bulk or in bales, sacks, or similar packing. The majority of clothing imported in this condition will most likely be used as rags or other non-apparel purpose.
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 (see Section XXV) 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.
What are the guidelines on rounding quantities and what happens when the quantity exceeds the visa amount due to rounding?
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. Port personnel will work with HQ Quota as necessary.
For larger overages, what procedures should be followed when the shipment quantity exceeds the visa quantity?
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.
No; the absence of visa does not prevent release of the merchandise. If a shipment is not accompanied by a visa, the goods may still enter the U.S. commerce, but will not be eligible to claim preferential duty treatment. The importer can have the goods, but will have to pay the higher duty rate if the visa is not properly provided. If a visa is subsequently obtained, the importer may make a post-entry claim for the preferential duty rate. The claim will be considered, provided the balance in any applicable quota is not exhausted.
If a shipment of quota-class merchandise is split or divided by the carrier or freight forwarder without the knowledge or beyond the control of the importer, exporter, or manufacturer, then the importer may file a separate entry summary for each shipment. The filer should include the original visa with the documentation for the initial shipment and a use a CBP certified copy for subsequent shipments. If the shipment is split because of an action taken by the importer, exporter, or manufacturer, then a separate visa is required for each shipment. Importers should contact the port for any specific local procedures.
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.
Must an importer be in possession of an export certificate or similar document at time of entry summary in order to claim the in-quota (low) duty rate?
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.
What complications may a filer encounter with export certificates and similar documents at the end of a quota period?
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.
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.
What happens when the importer properly transmits the certificate information, but the results indicate the absence of a transmission by the foreign government when CBP attempts to report the quota?
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).
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.