If you have received a Notice of Seizure, Notice of Penalty, or Liquidated Damages Incurred and Demand for Payment from CBP, you have the right to seek relief by filing an administrative petition.
If your merchandise is seized, you are provided a Fines, Penalties, and Forfeitures (FP&F) case number and assigned a paralegal. The paralegal will send you a “Seizure Notice” – which you have 30 days to respond to via petition. If the Petition is denied, you get a second bite of the apple and can file a “Supplemental Petition”. You can also file an “Offer in Compromise” (OIC) – basically your attempt to negotiate with CBP to settle the case.
If you’ve been through this process before, you know that filing a petition usually involves email and paper files. Not anymore! CBP has now rolled out an online portal that allows companies to file an “ePetition.” The portal also allows petitioners and members of the trade community to look up an existing petition.
As with any new process, there are some common questions around how to properly utilize the portal. Here are some FAQs:
1. Will FP&F prefer the petitions to come from the portal?
Currently, it is an additional tool and importers may continue to mail or email the appropriate FPF mailbox or use the online tool.
2. What is the “Reference ID?”
This is the system assigned ID applicable to each submission. This is not related to the FPF case number.
3. Will the portal provide a confirmation of timing of date/time of filing?
The receipt date is recorded. The receipt date is the submission date and not the accepted/rejected date. This acceptance/rejection has no bearing on the formal petition decision that will be issued to the petitioner.
4. Should FP&F have any questions on the petition, will there be a capability on the portal to ask questions/respond to questions?
The purpose of the portal is to only submit a petition/supplemental petition currently. All communications to the assigned FP&F paralegal should be either via letter, email, or telephone call.
5. Should petitioners still email FP&F a copy of the Petition as well?
No, if you use the portal option you do not need to submit additional copies.
6. Will petitioners be able to see the paralegal assigned from the platform?
The seizure notice will advise you of the paralegal assigned, unless reassigned at some point. The portal will not be utilized to advise you of paralegal assignment.
7. Will petitioners be able to see status updates from the platform?
The only status you will be able to see is either pending acceptance or accepted/rejected.
8. Will the FP&F office get auto notifications once filed?
9. CBP recently released a regulation update stating, “Number of copies – the petition must be filed in duplicate unless filed electronically.” Does ‘electronically’ include via email and the portal?
Electronically applies to both submissions via the portal and via email.
10. If petitioners have more than the max 50 MB’s allowed, should they submit via portal and submit additional documents via email?
It would be recommended to reduce the file size first. Each attachment is 25mb with the batch maximum at 50mb.
11. Can petitioners “supplement” a Petition using the portal?
No. If you find you are missing documents, you can communicate with the paralegal via email or resubmit the entire petition and make a note.
12. Will petitioners still receive CBP decisions via paper copy? Or via the portal?
Decisions will still be issued the same way as they are now, via email and/or mail.
13. If a petitioner gets a CBP denial, and wants to submit a Supplemental Petition, would that also be via the portal?
Yes, you may also submit a supplemental petition via the portal.
14. Can petitioners submit OIC’s via the portal (and mail checks to FP&F) – or does FP&F prefer those to be submitted to FP&F only (and portal only for actual Petitions)?
OIC’s are not being accepted via the portal currently.
Diaz Trade Law will continue monitoring for updates from CBP on this new process.
If you’ve received a seizure notice from CBP, we can help! Diaz Trade Law specializes in assisting companies with U.S. Customs seizure cases and understands the policies, procedures, and practices of CBP and clearly advises you of your options.
Want more information on this topic? See additional resources here:
- Bloomberg Law Feature: What is an Importer’s ‘Reasonable Care’ Standard?
- Why a Customs Lawyer is Essential at Detention
- CBP Seized My Goods – Oh No!
- Importing Into the United States in Compliance with CBP
Want expert training on this topic? Webinars on demand: