Seizure Averted – Why a Customs Lawyer is Essential at Detention
Sitting with your head down moping about U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) holding your goods is never the right answer!
Two days ago, a potential client called and explained that a valuable shipment was detained by CBP. The potential client asked if I could help recoup the goods from CBP, during this detention phase, or if they should wait.
When I get this question, I always want to scream, NOW!! This is the most essential time an importer has. Here’s the real question – do you want an expert in Customs law to assist you before your goods are guaranteed to be stuck in CBP for months, or work on getting them back for you NOW?!
I always request pertinent information about the commodity and the supposed rationale for the detention (if you don’t have this information yet, I help you get it). In this case, the potential client adamantly stated that the goods were legitimate, gray market goods; however, CBP was skeptical.
I advised the potential client that obtaining my services at this point would be the BEST option so I could clearly determine and explain to CBP the legitimacy of the merchandise and demand the release. After being hired, I immediately began working on the case due to the exigency of the circumstances. My tasks were to understand the basics of the commodity, learn the history of the product, and prove the legitimacy of the goods before CBP made a decision to seize them.
The consequences of not taking these immediate actions would be the potential seizure of the goods. More importantly, if the goods are seized by CBP, it could take several months (sometimes years) before they may be released. The great news is within 1 business day I was able to convince CBP that the goods were in fact legitimate gray market goods, and they were released. Waiting an extra week to get me involved would have been the difference between a detention by CBP (and release of the goods) or CBP’s seizure of the goods, and many months (or years) before the goods were released (with storage fees to pay!).
Thereafter, I worked with this client and discussed pre-compliance – which is especially important to understand why the detention occurred in the first place and how to avoid a similar situation from re-occurring.
Hiring an expert in CBP laws, prior to the seizure of the merchandise saved this client much time and a considerable amount of expenses. If your business is going through a similar issue with CBP, contact me during the detention phase, preferably before the seizure notice is issued!