Got Alphabet Soup?

As noted in previous posts, HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule) or Schedule B classification is the first step in export compliance. Other critical factors are ECCN (Export Control Classification Number) or EAR99, License/License Exception or NLR (No License Required), and Country of Origin. We’ll cover ECCN in this post.

Order of Review– Determine if your commodity is subject to the EAR (Export Administration Regulations). Use BIS decision tree.

CCL (Commerce Control List)– If your commodity falls under the EAR it is either EAR99 or requires an ECCN. EAR99 means that an item is subject to Export Administration Regulations but is not listed with a specific ECCN. Check the CCL.

CCL Index- The CCL is not especially user friendly but the CCL Index is a good resource. If you find your commodity in the index you can then dig deeper into the CCL.

For help with ECCN classification contact

Quick Classification? Be Careful

I am working with a client on a few HTS (Harmonized Tariff Schedule) classifications and they were surprised that I could not just “look them up”. In fact I may have been able to pick out plausible codes for their commodities, but that would be malpractice on my part . Compliance adds value through attention to detail, established protocols, oversight, and documentation. HTS classification is the first step in both export and import compliance.

Proper classification includes HTS lookup, GRI (General Rules of Interpretation) review, checking both chapter and additional notes, as well as CROSS (Customs Rulings Online Search System). For some commodities it may be necessary to consult with a subject matter expert in engineering, purchasing, or manufacturing for details about the item.

This is the procedural aspect of classification but there is more. Most listings require interpretation of the tariff language based on experience. Finally, the process needs to be documented for future reference and parts lists updated.

Here is an example of an easy classification with no research or interpretation needed:

9506.69.2040 Baseballs

Here is one which is more challenging and time consuming:

8532.10.0000 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).

For accurate classification help contact

CBLE Questions

Here are a couple of questions from the April 2022 CBLE (Customs Broker License Exam). Non-brokers what are your answers?

  1. Importer ABC Inc. is importing widgets from Canada to the United States. The company
    hires LMN Logistics, a freight forwarder (FF), to move the widgets from Vancouver, BC
    to Seattle, WA. LMN Logistics contracts with licensed Customs broker, XYZ Brokers, in
    Seattle to file the Customs entry. Which entity does NOT have the right to make entry?
    A. ABC Inc.
    B. LMN Logistics
    C. XYZ Brokers
    D. A and C
    E. B and C
  2. What type of entry is required for goods brought into the customs territory of the United
    States by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from space or from
    a foreign country as part of an international program of NASA?
    A. 01 – Formal Entry
    B. 11 – Informal Entry
    C. 51 - Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) is the importer of record
    and filer of the entry
    D. 52 – Any U.S. Federal Government agency (other than DCMA) is the importer of
    E. Entry is not required

Good Advice

  • Global Trade Compliance Professionals
  • Lalitha D

Global Trade Compliance ProfessionalsLalitha D

Question for thought:

The client wants you to include a HS Code different from what is appropriate in the bill of lading/SAD/Entry summary.
What would you do?

Mike Bing Senior customs consultant

Listen very carefully and suggest you are willing to let Customs know about the different code. If the client insists you should not do that, refer him to another service provider. If he agrees, get an instruction in writing, acknowledging your advice but requesting a different code.

Got In-House Training?

LinkedIn contacts and outreach from search firms tell me that logistics and compliance expertise is in demand. This is good news for experienced professionals. It may also present an opportunity for ambitious shippers to upgrade their skills.

You may be looking to add a logistics or compliance pro to your staff and, understandably, want to make a good selection. In the meantime let me suggest training your shippers in some export compliance basics. I have always warned that compliance should not be left to a busy shipping department as the factors are complex and need to begin early in the order cycle. However, a few hours of training is a good investment, enabling shippers to spot possible export violations before shipments leave your dock. It will also allow your new professional to focus on more strategic matters and hit the ground running.

BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security) offers basic on-line export training at no cost. Why not improve the skills of your existing staff (on company time of course)?

Ad Hoc Logistics can also help with specific training at your site. Contact

5 Easy Pieces

In many small and medium sized companies export compliance programs are inadequate or non-existent. The reasons for this can be cost, staffing shortages, no “in house” expertise, or lack of management commitment. A written Export Compliance Program is the ideal way to keep compliant and is a good investment for any company to make. An ECP establishes clear accountability, written procedures, and reduces risk of non-compliance. However, an ECP is costly and time consuming, requiring a significant commitment on the part of management. If the exporter has not experienced problems or incurred any fines it is easy to make compliance a “back burner” issue. But doing nothing does not mitigate the risk!

Here are few best practices to help you get started :

1) Review and confirm correct Harmonized Tariff and Schedule B codes and maintain master list as updates occur. Proper classification follows established protocols and is the starting place for compliance.

2) Check Export Administration Regulations (EAR) for correct ECCN and license exception codes. Are you automatically using EAR99 and NLR? can help.

3) Confirm Country of Origin for all imports. This is not always obvious so consider consulting a Licensed Customs Broker.

4) Check common “Red Flags” such as denied parties lists, entities lists, and unverified lists. Once again, provides details and training.

5) Review export documentation for possible improvements.

Make export compliance a front-end process not a last minute shipping function. Remember, while Logistics Service Providers (LSPs) are valued partners, the exporter bears primary responsibility for compliance. Finally, if exporting under ITAR you need a responsible trained officer.

Contact for immediate assistance.

LinkedIn Comment- Logistics and Trade Compliance

Mario Viegas – DG Certified• 2ndLogistics Manager – Imports – Exports l Global Logistics – SME Trade Compliance Specialist US Customs and FDA, USDA, FCC, TSCA, OGA’s I DG Certified2h • 2 hours agoFollowDifference between Logistics and Trade Compliance:

It is not readily apparent that managing global logistics and global trade compliance are 2 sides of the same coin – but they are.
Both global logistics and trade compliance rely on the same, or similar, information regarding a shipment but use that information in different ways and for different purposes.

Mitch Kostoulakos, LCB Ad Hoc Logistics LLC, Licensed Customs Broker, International Logistics Consultant

Well stated. Thanks for an informative post.

Quick Questions?

My September 2021 post on this topic generated quite a bit of interest. As “quick questions” are a fact of life for consultants here is an update.

Consultants often receive “Just a quick question?” queries from clients or others and everyone responds differently. Most likely the questioner believes that their question is an easy one and may be looking for pro bono service. In fact, while it is easy to ask a quick question, an accurate response is not always quick.

I have been offered lunch or dinner as compensation for quick questions. Others have assumed that, since their question is quick, there will be no charge for the answer. As a solo practitioner I know that I need to remain flexible and avoid rigid procedures while making sure that I am compensated for my time and expertise. Based on trial and error, here is how I handle “quick questions”.

Active clients– I truly value my long-term clients who are the foundation of my business. It is easier to keep clients than to gain new ones. So, if I can help a client on the spot I will do so as a part of my service. This usually involves something simple like identifying a resource for them. If time and/or research is required I let the client know how I will handle the request and what I will charge. Most clients understand this approach because I have added value for them in the past. If they have frequent quick questions I may suggest my retainer service which allows them to prepay for brief consultations by choosing a set number of hours.

Prospective clients– This is a little trickier because of situations such as the ones I have described, so I am more selective in my responses. I do try to be helpful as I want them to remember me when they have a real project. If time and research is required I will propose the retainer option or quote a minimum charge. I will always try to learn about the potential client’s business so that I can determine their real needs and follow up at a later date.

Former colleagues– One of the benefits of being a FedEx alum is having contacts with excellent colleagues all over the world. A number of active clients have been the result of referrals by former colleagues. Any questions they have are on behalf of their clients which can potentially become mine. Their referrals are my compensation. If they have a project requiring time and research I may ask them to connect me to the client if possible. I’m always happy to hear from former colleagues so FedExers don’t hesitate to reach out.

Friends and family- This is rare as I try not to mix personal with professional and I don’t want to charge friends or family. I will accommodate a minor request and give them a referral for anything more complex.

This method is not perfect but works well enough for me in my growing practice. I would be interested in hearing how other consultants handle “quick questions”


CBLE Results

From the CBP website:

The April 27, 2022 CBLE (Customs Broker License Exam) resulted in a 39.6% pass rate prior to appeal decisions.

This is the highest pass rate that I can recall. Congratulations to all who passed. You are now eligible to go through the application process, background check, and fingerprinting to obtain your license.

The April 2022 CBLE and Exam key are posted on the CBP website.

A Little Knowledge

Economic and human rights sanctions have recently been imposed on Russia and Belarus by the US, UK, EU and others. Clients and colleagues in the logistics field know that trade to these nations is restricted so there is not much need for discussion or advice. My knowledge of sanctions is basic, however, so I thought I would do some reading on the topic.

Here is a good starting place:

International Logistics Consulting; Licensed Customs Brokers