What was one of the biggest challenges faced by petitioners in the 2016-2017 Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) petition process?

It was getting an accurate merchandise classification under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

Merchandise classification is one of the more complicated, but critically important, aspects of submitting a petition for a duty suspension or reduction under the MTB petition process, which is administered by the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) in accordance with the American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act of 2016.  Almost 700 (28 percent!) of the petitions listed in the Commission’s final 2017 report were not recommended to Congress for inclusion in an MTB — many of these due to issues regarding classification and the ability of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to administer the provision.

How can you avoid this problem in the upcoming MTB cycle?  By getting an early start.

CBP is responsible for administering the HTSUS.  Knowing your merchandise is correctly classified is a vital step in achieving a successful MTB petition filing.

CBP recommends that prospective petitioners research the HTSUS classification of their merchandise and consider requesting a binding ruling from Customs before submitting a request for a duty suspension or reduction.  To do this:

  • Use the Customs Rulings Online Search Service (CROSS) at https://rulings.cbp.gov/home to research the classification of your merchandise.  The correct HTSUS classification of many items can be found there.
  • If your merchandise is not described in any ruling on CROSS, you may submit a request for a binding ruling, along with any information required for this determination, to CBP’s National Commodities Specialist Division (NCSD).  CBP advises that requests are best made electronically via CBP’s website (https://apps.cbp.gov/erulings/index.asp) or in writing at:

Director, National Commodity Specialist Division
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
201 Varick Street, Suite 501
New York, NY 10014
ATTN: Binding Ruling Request

Issuing a binding ruling can take up to 30 days if all of the necessary information is submitted with the request, so don’t put this off if you know you are going to submit a petition requesting a duty suspension or reduction under the MTB process this Fall.  A little advance preparation now will make your submission experience a lot smoother when the USITC petition process begins!