Customs Law Procedures

Customs Law Procedures in the United States

Customs Law Practice and Procedures

This topic includes various subjects such as Certificate of Origin, Advance Rulings, NAFTA Claims, Verifications, Determinations, and Appeals to name a few. This information is gathered from a variety of Customs entries in this American legal encyclopedia.

Advance Rulings

An advance ruling is a written document received from the customs authority from a NAFTA country. It provides binding information on specific NAFTA questions you may have about future imports of goods into Canada, Mexico and the United States.

Certificate of Origin

This is a trilaterally agreed upon form used by Canada, Mexico, and the United States to certify that goods qualify for the preferential tariff treatment accorded by NAFTA. The Certificate of Origin must be completed by the exporter. A producer or manufacturer may also complete a certificate of origin in a NAFTA territory to be used as a basis for an Exporter’s Certificate of Origin. To make a claim for NAFTA preference, the importer must possess a certificate of origin at the time the claim is made. Learn more about certificate of origin here.


Article 507(1) of the NAFTA, requires that each country protect the confidentiality of confidential business information provided to the them in the course of conducting government business. In addition, the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States must ensure that this business information is not disclosed to third parties and does not prejudice the competitive positions of the persons providing the information.

Country of Origin Marking

Country of origin marking is used to clearly indicate to the ultimate purchaser of a product where it is made. NAFTA marking rules are also used to determine the rate of duty, staging and country of origin applicable for NAFTA goods.

Exporter Obligations

See Article 504 of the NAFTA

Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)

In relation to NAFTA, see 19 CFR 181 Appendix, Schedule XII

Importer Obligations

See Article 502 of the NAFTA


Verifications is the process used to by the customs authorities to determine whether a good qualifies as NAFTA originating when a preferential duty rate has been claimed.


All records related to a preferential duty claim under NAFTA must be kept for a minimum of five years. Learn more in recordkeeping duties.


These procedures are used by importers, exporters or producers of goods to request a second review of NAFTA decisions given by the customs administrations.

Standards Document

See the Regulatory Standards for Implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (Sept. 6, 1995 Federal Register).

The Standards document sets forth the uniform regulatory standards adopted by Canada, Mexico and the United States for purposes of implementing the preferential tariff treatment and other customs-related provisions of the NAFTA.

Uniform Regulations

– Article 511 of the NAFTA
– 19 CFR 181 Appendix
– Amendments to the 19 CFR 181 Appendix (April 2, 2002)

Working Groups and Customs Subgroups

See Article 513 of the NAFTA

Find more information on Customs Law Practice and Procedures in relation to the Customs Trade Law in the legal Encyclopedias.

Customs Law Procedures and the International Trade Law


See Also

Further Reading

  • Customs Law Procedures entry in the Dictionary of International Trade Law (Raj Bhala)
  • Customs Law Procedures entry in the Gale Encyclopedia of U.S. Economic History (Thomas Carson; Mary Bonk)
  • Customs Law Procedures entry in the Dictionary of International Trade
  • Customs Law Procedures entry in the Dictionary of International Trade: Handbook of the Global Trade Community (Edward G. Hinkelman)

Customs Law Procedures: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Customs Law Procedures. This part provides references, in relation to Customs Law Procedures, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Customs Law Procedures by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Customs Law Procedures and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Customs Law Procedures or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Customs Law Procedures and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Customs Law Procedures. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Customs Law Procedures should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Customs Law Procedures when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

Leave a Comment