Are You a Deemed Exporter?

Exporting does not always mean shipping a tangible commodity. Software, drawings, manuals, specs, and other intellectual property are exported on a regular basis. Engineering firms, software companies, researchers, manufacturers, and universities need to be aware of the “deemed export” rules. They may be engaged in export transactions without even knowing it. Best practices and due diligence will mitigate the risk of fines and penalties.

Here is some info from the BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security) website:

Contact mitch@ for immediate assistance


Snyder• 1stUS Army Retired/Veteran Advocate/Logistics Careers/Mentoring President,, Board Member

Had an excellent conversation today with Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB, of Ad Hoc Logistics. Mitch has been in the customs compliance arena for over 20 years and is also a former Army Reservist. Mitch has offered to provide his expert guidance to our veteran candidates interested in becoming Licensed Customs Brokers and/or Export Compliance Specialist.

On behalf of the veteran community of, we thank Mitch for his support!

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB  

Thanks Scot…enjoyed our conversation and learning about your mission

Think You Know the HTS?

Clients frequently say “we’ve used the same harmonized codes for years”. As a Licensed Customs Broker and consultant this tells me that I need to do some checking on the client’s behalf.

The Harmonized Tariff Schedule code is a 10-digit import classification system that is specific to the United States. HTS codes, also called HTS numbers, are administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC).

Customs brokers use the HTS, along with CBP regulations, in their day to day business. Importers and traders may also make use of the HTS in determining duty rates. Checking the validity of harmonized codes at least semi-annually is a good business practice. What may be surprising is the frequency of revisions to the HTS.

The tariff archives show that the 2020 HTS was revised 28 times. The 2021 version already lists 3 preliminary revisions.

Year: 2021 Releases

2021 Preliminary Revision 3

2021 Preliminary Revision 2

2021 Preliminary Revision 1

Year: 2020 Releases

2021 Preliminary Edition

2020 Revision 28

2020 Revision 27

Contact mitch@ for immediate assistance.

October Exam Results

From the CBP website

Customs Brokers License Exam Information

The bi-annual Customs broker license exam (CBLE) was administered on October 8, 2020 resulting in a 37% pass rate prior to appeal decisions.  The electronic exam was held nationwide at over 120 testing locations.

This is a much higher pass rate than for previous exams.

Here is one of the questions from the Entry section of the exam. Answer below.

17. The importation to the United States of cats, dogs, and monkeys are subject to Foreign Quarantine Regulations of which agency(s) ________?

A. United States Fish and Wildlife Service

B. Custom and Border Protection Agriculture

C. United States Public Health Service

D. Animal Plant Health Inspection Service

E. All of the Above

Answer: C

CBP Announcement

Customs Broker License Examination

Announcement – Remote Proctored Exam Delivery Option

The next Exam will be held on Wednesday, April 21, 2021. Exam Registration will open on February 22, 2021 and close on March 22, 2021.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is offering a remote proctored exam delivery option for the April 21, 2021 Customs Broker License Exam (CBLE) available to a limited number of examinees. 

Check the CBP website for details

Zooming Down the Road

The last year has brought major changes in how business is conducted between logistics service providers (LSPs) and their clients. Here is what I wrote in a post just 18 months ago about managing carrier relationships:

LSPs, especially motor carriers, make extensive use of “customer entertainment” to gain and retain market share. Lunches, dinners, and sporting events are a big part of the job for carrier representatives. …..Business lunches can be productive for both parties. Clients should have an agenda with a few discussion points. Remember, as with any meeting, if you don’t have an agenda you are subject to someone else’s…… Expensive dinners and sporting events are much less productive from a business perspective. Food and drink becomes the main event.  The game takes precedence at sporting events.….In summary manage your carrier relationships, Don’t let your providers “reward” you for your business. It makes it much more difficult to change providers or negotiate new deals.

In the last year entertainment and face to face sales calls have been limited. Most interaction between LSPs and clients is via Zoom or other remote methods. This no doubt makes the carrier rep’s job more difficult. The relationship must now be built on adding value and problem solving instead of entertainment. In other words the relationship becomes more professional and a little less personal. While the client may not enjoy as many lunches or dinners, negotiations and accountability may be easier.

Notice to Exporters

Here is a notice posted on the 2021 Harmonized Tariff Schedule. Except as noted there is no need to toggle between HTS codes for imports and Schedule B codes for exports. Exporters may use HTS codes in place of Schedule B. Go to and choose the view tab.

Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (2021)
Annotated for Statistical Reporting Purposes

Through this notice, this HTS publication may be used in place of the reporting codes of Schedule B for reporting exports on the Shipper’s
Export Declaration or under the program for electronic reporting of exports. Except as noted below, the statistical reporting numbers (with
the article descriptions and units of quantity) for articles falling in Chapters 1 through 97 may be used in place of those in Schedule B. The
special prefix symbols which denote special tariff treatment should not be included. The following provisions are applicable for export
reporting purposes in lieu of the corresponding provisions in the HTS:
Description S

Contact mitch@ for immediate assistance.

HTS Best Practices

As an independent consultant and Licensed Customs Broker my most frequent client requests are for classification help. While some commodities are easy to classify, most require research and interpretation. Here is an example of an easy one with no research or interpretation needed:

9506.69.2040 Baseballs

Here is one which is more challenging and time consuming:

8532.10.00 00 Fixed capacitors designed for use in 50/60 Hz circuits and having a reactive power handling capacity of not less than
0.5 kvar (power capacitors)

There are 3 ways to classify: 1) self classify, 2) consult with commodity manufacturer, 3) request rulings from CBP (imports) or BIS (exports).

HTS and Schedule B best practices include checking and confirming commodity classifications at least annually starting with a few universal principles:

Classification is subjective- tariff schedules do not necessarily keep up with technology

Customs definitions can differ from industry definitions

Different interpretations exist between countries and also between ports within the same country

The basic components of a best in class process are:

Break down items from universe into groups

Research- even if you think you know the correct classification  

Identify necessary info needed for classification such as materials, dimensions, intended use, etc

Documentation- needed to support your determination

Automation- implementing a software classification tool will improve efficiency and productivity

On-going maintenance and monitoring for changes in HTS binding rulings and in your products is essential

Supporting documentation includes:

spec sheets, drawings, photos

info requests from engineers, scientists, chemists, etc

HTS chapter and section notes that apply to your product

explanatory notes

informed compliance publications

customs rulings that apply to your product

record keeping (5 years)

contact mitch@adhoclogistics for immediate assistance.

Mitch’s LinkedIn Comment

• Post from Eliska Mundell

Why are some Leaders still using the ‘Stick’ Management method?

Unbelievably this is true !

With everything that people have been through during 2020 and continuing into 2021, surely the methods used to push people to reach targets would have changed ?

Unfortunately no….

Whilst everyone is aware that the end of the Financial Year is looming and the race is on to secure as much business & revenue as possible, Leaders need to consider the mental health of their people.

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB  Licensed Customs Broker, International Logistics Consultant

Agree…Stick management is made worse by dashboard mgt….Tracking key indicators is essential but it is not management just measurement…Unfortunately many managers focus on the dashboard because it is easier than trying to incentivize and motivate. Dashboard data is for managing process not leading people.