Summary: H.R.5643 — 102nd Congress (1991-1992)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to Senate with amendment(s) (09/29/1992)

Customs Modernization and Informed Compliance Act - Title I: Improvements in Customs Enforcement - Amends the Tariff Act of 1930 (the Act) to revise procedures with respect to: (1) electronic transmission of forged, altered, or false data to the United States Customs Service with regard to the entry of imported merchandise; (2) penalties for failure to declare imported controlled substances; (3) examination and detention of imported merchandise; (4) certain recordkeeping requirements; (5) examination of books and witnesses; (6) review of protests by the Customs Service; (7) a repeal of a provision relating to the reliquidation on account of fraud; (8) penalties relating to manifests, false drawback or refund claims, and for fraud, gross negligence, and negligence; (9) unlawful unloading or transshipment; (10) public access to Customs Service interpretative rulings and decisions; and (11) seizure of imported merchandise.

Title II: National Customs Automation Program - Directs the Secretary of the Treasury (Secretary) to establish the National Customs Automation Program which shall be an automated and electronic system for the processing of commercial imports.

Provides for electronic data transmission relating to: (1) remote location filing; (2) effective date of rates of duty on imported merchandise; (3) merchandise manifests; (4) imported merchandise invoices; (5) entry and release of imported merchandise; (6) admissibility in administrative and judicial proceedings of electronically transmitted information; (7) appraisement and liquidations of imported merchandise; (8) the payment of duties; (9) abandonment and damage to imported merchandise; (10) protests of Customs Service decisions; (11) refunds and errors; (12) bonds and other security; and (13) customs house brokers.

Requires a refund (drawback) of duties (less one per cent of such duties) on articles produced in the United States with imported merchandise that have been destroyed under Customs Service supervision, provided such articles have not been used prior to such destruction.

Sets forth provisions with respect to customs officer's immunity in regard to the appraisement of or collection of duties on imported merchandise.

Title III: Miscellaneous Amendments to the Tariff Act of 1930 - Amends the Act to authorize the Secretary to disregard the difference, but not less than $20 (currently ten dollars), between the total estimated duties deposited with respect to imported merchandise and the total amount actually due on such merchandise.

Authorizes the Secretary to admit duty-free: (1) gifts from persons in foreign countries to persons in the United States whose value does not exceed $100 (currently, $50), or $200 (currently, $100) in the case of gifts from persons in the Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa; (2) articles accompanying persons for personal or household use whose value does not exceed $200 (currently, $25); or (3) articles whose value does not exceed $200 (currently, five dollars) in other cases. Authorizes the Secretary to waive collection of duties due on merchandise that are worth less than $20, or such greater amount as prescribed by him or her.

Requires masters of vessels that have visited a hovering vessel or received merchandise while outside the U.S. territorial sea to report their arrival to the nearest customs facility.

Provides for the electronic transmission of vessel documentation to the Customs Service.

Requires the following vessels to report to the nearest Customs Service facility within 24 hours (or other period of time) as provided after arrival to a U.S. port: (1) vessels from a foreign port; (2) foreign vessels from a domestic port; (3) U.S. vessels having bonded or foreign merchandise for which entry has not been made; or (4) vessels which visited a hovering vessel or received merchandise outside the U.S. territorial sea. Permits masters of vessels to make preliminary entry of their vessel with the Customs Service in lieu of or before formal entry is made.

Exempts from entry and clearance requirements certain passenger vessels on excursion from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the British Virgin Islands and returning, U.S. documented vessels with recreational endorsement, or (as under current law) undocumented U.S. pleasure vessels not engaged in trade, except such vessels must comply upon arrival with specified customs reporting requirements and navigation laws and must not have visited any hovering vessel. Prohibits merchandise, passengers, or baggage from being unladen from any vessel required to make entry or vehicle required to report its arrival until such entry or report of arrival is made and a permit for unlading has been issued by the Customs Service. Authorizes the issuance of such permits through electronic data transmission.

Requires every importer of record of merchandise to make and file electronically or otherwise a declaration stating whether such merchandise is imported pursuant to a purchase or purchase agreement and that all other required documents are true and correct.

Requires persons who gained any benefit from, or met any obligation to the United States as the result of the prior exportation of merchandise that has returned as undeliverable to inform the Customs Service of the return of such merchandise within a reasonable time.

Provides for electronic data transmission of entry information to complete any incomplete entry of imported merchandise.

Declares entered or unentered merchandise that remains in customs custody for six months, with an extension at the importer's request of up to a year (currently, for merchandise that remains in custody for one year), and in which duties, taxes, fees, storage, and other charges have not been paid, to be unclaimed merchandise which shall be appraised and sold by the Customs Service at public auction. Authorizes the sale of imported gunpowder and other explosive merchandise that if permitted to remain in a bonded warehouse for six months (currently, one year) would depreciate in value to the extent that its sale would be insufficient to pay such duties, taxes, fees, storage, and other charges.

Authorizes the Customs Service, in lieu of sale, to provide notice to interested parties that, unless, within 30 days of such notice, the subject merchandise is entered or withdrawn for consumption and payment made of all duties, taxes, and fees, transfer and storage charges and other expenses that title to such merchandise shall be deemed to vest in the United States. Authorizes the Secretary to pay to a party that has lost a substantial interest in merchandise by virtue of title vesting in the United States, and can establish that it did not receive a vesting notice, an amount from the Customs Forfeiture Fund equal to what such party would have received if such merchandise had been sold and a proper claim filed. Requires any surplus of the proceeds from the sale of such merchandise to be deposited into the Fund if a claim for such surplus is not filed with the Customs Service.

Authorizes the Secretary to prescribe regulations for the declaration and entry of merchandise whose value does not exceed a certain amount, not more than $2,500 (currently not greater than $1,250), and/or when different commercial facilitation and risk considerations that may vary for different classes or kinds of merchandise or different classes of transactions may dictate.

Requires the Secretary upon seizure and forfeiture of imported merchandise bearing a counterfeit mark to dispose of such merchandise more than 90 days (currently, one year) after such forfeiture.

Authorizes withdrawal of imported merchandise from a warehouse for transfer to a foreign trade zone.

Authorizes the Customs Service to order the destruction or other appropriate disposition of vessels, vehicles, aircraft, merchandise, or baggage that has been seized under the customs laws if it determines that the expense of keeping such items is disproportionate to their value (currently applies only to items of less than $1,000 in value).

Authorizes the use of funds from the Customs Forfeiture Fund for the payment of: (1) certain transfer and storage charges and expenses; and (2) claims against Customs Service employees.

Requires actions for fraud, gross negligence, and negligence, false drawback, or refund claims with respect to imported merchandise to be instituted within five years after the alleged violation or discovery of such fraud.

Requires the Customs Service to be reimbursed the administrative cost and expense incurred in collecting fees on behalf of other Federal agencies.

Authorizes the Secretary to settle, for no more than $50,000 in each case, claims for personal injury, death, or damage to, or loss of, privately owned property caused by an investigative or law enforcement officer of the Customs Service.

Requires the Secretary to contract with persons for collection services to recover indebtedness arising under the customs laws, provided the Customs Service has exhausted all administrative efforts to collect such indebtedness.

Title IV: Miscellaneous Provisions and Consequential and Conforming Amendments to Other Laws - Amends the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States to exempt from such Schedule articles which are returned within 45 days after being exported from the United States as undeliverable and which have not left the custody of the carrier or foreign customs service. Prohibits such exportations from satisfying any requirement for exportation in order to receive a benefit from, or meet an obligation, to the United States as a result of such exportation.

Declares that certain railway locomotives and railway freight cars on which no duty is owed are not subject to the entry or release requirements for imported merchandise under the Tariff Act of 1930.

Exempts instruments of international traffic, such as containers, lift vans, rail cars and locomotives, truck cabs and trailers, etc., from formal entry procedures. Requires them to be accounted for however, when imported to and exported from the United States through the manifesting procedures required for international carriers by the U.S. Customs Service.

Amends the Internal Revenue Code and other specified Federal law with respect to: (1) certain expenditures from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund; and (2) coastwise trade vessels and U.S. vessels visiting foreign ports.

Amends Federal law to grant the Court of International Trade exclusive jurisdiction of any civil action for review decisions of the Customs Service that deny, suspend, or revoke accreditation of private customs laboratories. Bars the commencement of such actions unless brought before such Court within 60 days of such decisions.

Requires U.S. and foreign vessels to obtain clearance from the Customs Service before proceeding from a U.S. port for: (1) a foreign port; (2) another U.S. port (for foreign vessels only), or (for U.S. vessels only) another U.S. port if the vessel has bonded or foreign merchandise for which entry has not been made; or (3) outside the U.S. territorial sea to visit a hovering vessel or to receive merchandise.

Repeals specified provisions of Federal law.

Requires the Commissioner of Customs to report to the Congress each fiscal year after FY 1992 on the collection of duties imposed under the antidumping and countervailing duty laws.

Amends the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987 to authorize the Commissioner of Customs to obtain from the operators of centralized cargo examination stations information on fees paid for the provision of services at such stations. Requires the Commissioner to report to specified congressional committees on the payment of such fees.

Amends the Customs and Trade Act of 1990 to require the Commissioner of Customs to: (1) devise a methodology for estimating the level of compliance with the U.S. customs laws; and (2) evaluate the extent to which such compliance was obtained during the 12-month period preceding the 60th day before each fiscal year 1993 through 1995. Directs the Commissioner to initiate, and submit to the Congress, a compliance review of certain carrier services.