As part of a routine information collection review in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, U.S. Customs and Border Protection recently sought comments (here and here) regarding the Commercial Invoice.
The commercial invoice is “vital to ensure compliance with customs and other partner government agency laws and regulations impacting the daily processing of international trade and entry of goods from the standpoint of both the private and public sector.”
With respect to the Extension of Agency Information Collection Activities, CBP was looking for input from the trade on one or more of the following points:
- whether the proposed collection of information is necessary for the proper performance of the functions of the agency;
- the accuracy of the agency’s estimate of the burden of the proposed collection of information;
- suggestions to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and
- suggestions to minimize the burden of the collection of information on importers.
Requirements Differ From Actual Practice
The National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America in a response dated Oct. 30 pointed out some problems with the existing commercial invoice requirements and asked CBP to consider amending its regulations to make them more flexible so that they better reflect actual business practices.
For example, while a commercial invoice “indicates that there is a transaction with a price already agreed upon that the foreign seller and U.S. buyer will pay,” according to the NCBFAA, often this is not the case owing to the goods being consigned or leased, where the final price payable has not yet been determined and the required invoice “does not exist consistent with commercial practice.”
To address such issues, the NCBFAA requested that CBP:
- maintain commercial invoice collection with flexibility based on commercial practices;
- amend its regulations so that they no longer reflect that a commercial invoice always accompanies an entry;
- provide an automated invoice interface in ACE to allow customs brokers the ability to transmit commercial invoice information electronically and;
- adjust its estimated time per response and burden per commercial invoice.