For businesses already involved in international trade or those thinking about global expansion, things just got a little easier.

After nearly a decade of work between Congress, two Presidential Administrations and the business community, the Customs Reauthorization Bill has finally gone into effect as of March 10, 2016. Also known as the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, the Bill opens up new international trade opportunities for U.S. businesses of all sizes by streamlining the U.S. Customs procedures, decreasing the cost to ship internationally, and strengthening trade enforcement at U.S. borders.

An immediate benefit of the new law is the reduction of the paperwork required for low-value shipments through an increase in the de minimis allowance from $200 to $800. Under this provision, all shipments of non-restricted commodities valued at less than $800 can be passed free of duties and taxes. By increasing the de minimis threshold on the value of goods imported by one person on one day, doors are opened for even more e-commerce activity. Note that the following are exempt from this provision and still require entry and payment of applicable duties and taxes:

  • Shipments of alcohol, perfume containing alcohol, cigars and cigarettes of any value
  • Goods subject to U.S. fish and wildlife regulation of any value
  • Medications and medical devices (including glasses & sunglasses) of any value
  • Other goods subject to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulation valued over $200

Other major benefits of the Customs Reauthorization Bill for U.S. businesses include:

Facilitation and streamlining the flow of legitimate trade:

  • Providing benefits to trusted traders streamlines legitimate trade, and increases U.S. competitiveness and U.S. job creation.
  • Advanced data and pre-clearance of shipments are supported by the modernization of the Customs systems and the alignment of border agencies within a “single window.”
  • Duty-free treatment is allowed for any exported product returned to the U.S. within three years of being exported and certain U.S. government property returned to the U.S.

Enforcement of U.S. trade laws:

  • Obligations in U.S. trade agreements, U.S. Intellectual Property Rights (IPR), and antidumping and countervailing duty laws are enforced.
  • Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is required to provide IPR right holders with samples to identify counterfeits.

Promotion of small business exports: 

  • Authorizing the state trade expansion program and improving state and federal export promotion coordination supports small business exports.

The Customs Reauthorization Bill marks a major step forward for U.S. international trade and we encourage businesses who may not have considered doing business globally to take another look at the opportunity.  Today there are more reasons than ever for U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses to consider the world their marketplace.

For more information about international trade laws and opportunities, follow us at @DHLUS and send us your questions using #ExportExperts.