Customs Request for Information or Notice of Action (Customs Forms 28 & 29)
By Margaret Lange
So you have made an entry of your goods with Customs & Border Protection (CBP). CBP released those goods, you’ve paid the duty, and you have received the goods. All is good, right? Not necessarily. When you make an entry with CBP, your entry file is “held open” for 314 days from the entry date. If CBP has no questions or issues with your entry, they will liquidate or close the entry file within the 314 days. However, during that 314 days, CBP may select your entry, either randomly or for cause, and conduct a review of the information declared on that entry. You may not know why, specifically, your entry was flagged, but if CBP has concerns, and issues a Request for Information (CF28), you will want to take the request seriously and put priority on providing CBP with any information requested in a timely manner.
Request for Information – Customs Form 28 (CF28)
When a CBP Import Specialist is reviewing your entry and has questions, the first thing you will normally receive is a Customs Form 28 (CF28); Request for Information. This form is used by CBP to solicit additional information related to your specific entry. With the CF28, CBP is requesting information to verify the declarations made on your entry including the classification of your goods (Harmonized Tariff Schedule – HTS#), the declared value, the country of origin, if your product qualifies for a declared Free Trade Agreement, Antidumping or Countervailing Duties, provisional tariffs (Section 301, 232, etc.) or to otherwise determine if all import regulations were met on the entry. CBP may also require a sample of your product with the CF28.
What should you do if you receive a CF28?
- CF28’s are mailed to the address on file with CBP and are not directed to any person’s attention. Be sure your office personnel know to direct these forms to the proper party in your organization.
- Often the Customs Broker will receive a copy of the CF28 issued to the importer. If M.E. Dey received a CF28 copy we will always notify you directly to ensure you have received your copy.
- Notify leadership of any request from Customs including a CF28 as there may be financial implications to the responses provided to the request.
- Make sure you have a qualified and knowledgeable employee assigned to any and all communications with CBP. Make sure they are trained and know when to escalate the request or seek the assistance of the customs broker, trade lawyers or consultants.
- Set up a CBP Automated Commercial Environment (ACE) importer account to receive CF28/29 notices electronically as they are issued.
- Carefully read the CF28, paying special attention to sections 12-14, which detail the information requested.
- Thoroughly review and confirm all information declared on your entry and all related commercial documents. E. Dey encourages our customers to contact our Licensed Brokers who will assist you with understanding the request and how to prepare your response.
- Consider why the CF28 was issued and assess whether it is the result of a one-time error or a larger more systemic issue that will need to be addressed through a Prior Disclosure.
- For more complicated requests, contact a Trade Lawyer for assistance in the response.
- If you are not clear as to what is requested, call the CBP Import Specialist listed at the bottom of the form.
- Be clear, concise, and direct in your response.
- Have the response reviewed by management, your Customs Broker, or a Trade Lawyer before submitting to CBP.
- Make sure you respond within the 30-day window!!!
- Extensions to the 30 days may be requested from CBP, but make sure the request is justified.
CF28s happen to the best importers, but ignoring or not responding to a CF28 is not an option! Failure to respond could be viewed as an importer’s failure to demonstrate Reasonable Care in the management of their import activities. But, failure to respond will definitely result in CBP taking action through a Customs Form 29 Notice of Action (CF29).
Notice of Action – Customs Form 29 (CF29)
The Notice of Action (CF29) might be the first communication you receive from CBP. In this case, the CBP Import Specialist has reviewed your entry information and believes there is enough information to “take action”, which will often result in an increase in assessed duties. Whether it is the first communication, or a result of the information submitted in response to a CF28, carefully review the contents of the CF29 and the specific action taken.
A Notice of Action can be issued for one or many entries for the same finding by CBP, such as a change in classification. Whether you agree with CBP’s decision or not, the decision is binding and you are required to comply with the change until you have successfully protested their decision.
The Notice of Action form is used in two ways: Proposed Action or Action Taken.
PROPOSED ACTION: When the box is checked for “Proposed” action, the importer has 20 days from the date of the notice to submit reasons why they disagree with CBP’s proposed action. The importer can submit any information, documentation, or data necessary to support their position. If CBP agrees with the importer, the entry will be liquidated as entered (no changes made). If they do not, they will Take Action as proposed.
ACTION TAKEN: When the box is checked for action “Has Been Taken”, CBP has made a final decision and the entry will be liquidated. The decision is binding for this entry and all future entries. At this point, if you disagree with the action taken, the only option is to formally Protest the CBP decision in the action.
In addition to whether the action is proposed or taken, Importers must carefully review the “Type of Action” taken and the explanation provided. Actions are A) Rate Advance, B) Value Advance, C) Excess Weight or Quantity, or D) Other, and an explanation will be provided.
If the action is Rate Advance, CBP will liquidate the entry and issue a bill to the importer for the difference in duties submitted at the time of entry and the rate and amount of duty and fees owed when the action is taken. The importer’s Import Bond Surety will also be notified of the Rate Advance and CBP billing.
Be proactive and watch for CF28s or 29s. Managing and responding to CF28s and 29s is not only important to avoid the potential of a “Rate Advance”, but failure to respond could result in further investigation by CBP including a Focused Assessment (CBP audit) and potential fines, penalties, and forfeiture.
M.E. Dey typically receives notice of any CF28/29s issued to our customers and promptly notifies and assists the importer through this critical compliance process. If you are using multiple brokers, it is best to set up an ACE Importer account to be notified of the issuance of CF28s and CF29s. Information for setting up an ACE account can be found on CBP’s website here, or you can reach out to us for assistance at email@example.com.