The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has made it easier for exporters, importers, and agents to return goods to the US with a duty-free status by introducing the CBP form 3311 -- Declaration For Free Entry of Returned American Products. This benefit is backed up by the provision 9801.00.10 in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), where it is mentioned that US-made products can return to the US without being subject to duties and taxes.

However, an explicit provision states that the CBP form 3311 can be used only when the goods have not been advanced in value, nor has their condition improved overseas. In other words, if the goods underwent a value-addition or were repaired abroad, the importer or the agent may have to pay duty as per the fair market value of the labor or the item itself.

For instance, a consignment of shirts manufactured in the US was sent to France. Unfortunately, upon reaching the destination, the customer refused to accept the delivery for some reason, and the goods had to be returned to the US. Since the goods were manufactured in the US and are now being returned without any value addition or alterations, CBP form 3311 can be filled for claiming a duty-free status for the consignment. On the other hand, suppose you have shipped a US-manufactured machine to Germany for repairs. Once you get the machine back, you cannot claim a duty-free status for the product, as it has already undergone alterations. This repair work will attract duty.

Claiming a duty-free status for goods returning to the US is not as simple as it sounds. You need to have proper documentation, licenses (learn more about import license in usa here) etc. to ensure that you tick all the boxes, so no issues are recorded at customs.

Now, let us understand the CBP form 3311 in-depth.

What is CBP Form 3311?

The CBP form 3311 is used to obtain a duty-free status for those US-manufactured goods that are returned to the country. The CBP has introduced this provision to ensure that the goods with the country of origin as the US doesn’t get taxed twice as they are being returned to the US because of one issue or the other.

This provision was announced in April 2016, after which the duty-free return of foreign goods to the US has been made much easier. The customs department further updated the requirements in January 2017.

In short, the CBP form 3311 is a valuable tool for US-based manufacturers, exporters, and agents to process the return of their goods in a hassle-free and seamless manner.

When to use CBP Form 3311?

The following conditions need to be met, after which the CBP form 3311 can be used.

  1. The US-manufactured goods are being returned to the US, and the goods have not undergone any value-addition and increase in value when they were abroad.
  2. The goods in question have not been entered under a temporary importation via a bond provision.
  3. Duty drawback has not been claimed so far or paid by the US authorities.

Please note that the criteria mentioned above need to be fulfilled before claiming a duty-free status for your goods. Otherwise, you will have to file tons of paperwork that declares that the product indeed meets these conditions.

Documents required to qualify for Duty-Free return of goods

As mentioned earlier, it is mandatory to have the proper documentation to ensure that the manufacturer can claim a duty-free status and goods are returned to the US without paying any additional duty.

As of date, the following documents are required to qualify for a duty-free return of US-manufactured goods along with CBP form 3311:

  • Foreign shipper’s declaration: A foreign shipper’s declaration is required in cases where the country of origin for the products is the US, and the value of goods is more than US$ 2,500. This declaration certifies that the goods have not been enhanced in value or have not seen any value addition or improvement in their condition while abroad.

  • Manufacturer’s affidavit: A manufacturer's affidavit is required to confirm that the goods are manufactured in the US. This is important as the duty-free status for the return of goods is only allowed for US-manufactured goods. The affidavit needs to clearly state that the goods are manufactured in the US and should be on the official letterhead of the manufacturer. It is critical to ensure that the affidavit is signed by a company official who has legal authority for authorizing such documents. It is mainly required in cases where the value of the goods is of more value than US$ 2,500, and the goods are not marked with the names and addresses of the manufacturer.

  • Declaration by owner, consignee, or agent: This is a declaration by the owner, consignee, or an agent handling the return of the goods. This document serves as proof that the declaration submitted by the foreign shipper is accurate and includes the name and address of the manufacturer. Further, this declaration also certifies that duty drawback hasn’t been claimed or paid, and the goods were not produced under a temporary import bond.

It is important to note here that the customs authorities will also accept a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) certificate that the manufacturer has filled at some US ports.

In addition, the following documents may be required on a case to case basis: As proof of export from the US, any of the following documents may be enclosed:

  • Copy of the entry into the export country.
  • Export Invoice/bill of lading/airway bill.
  • Electronic Export Information (EEI) or the Automated Export System (AES) filing exemption.

For the US goods exported under a Department of State License and are now being re-imported, a formal entry packet would be required along with the Directorate of Defense Trade Controls (DDTC) Partnership Government Agency (PGA) message set. This is required regardless of the value of the goods.

CBP Form 3311 Instructions

It is essential to fill in all the details in the CBP form 3311. If the importer cannot furnish the documents required, the US customs has the right to deny a duty-free treatment to the goods, and the manufacturer may have to pay the necessary duties to claim back the goods.

The CBP form 3311 contains the basic details of the shipment being returned. You need to ensure that all the documents explained above are ready and the supporting documents are enclosed for ease of approval.

Here are some essential points you should keep in mind while filling the CBP form 3311:-

  1. Enter all essential information as requested in the form.
  2. Enclose additional documents like the foreign shipper’s declaration, manufacturer's affidavit, and the declaration by owner, consignee, or agent.
  3. The affidavit and the declaration should have a description of the products and the manufacturer’s name and address.
  4. Ensure that duty must not have been claimed under the drawback scheme for which duty-free status is required.

How to fill CBP Form 3311?

The CBP form 3311 requires filling basic details about the products and the manufacturer to whom the goods are being returned. You can follow the template below to fill the CBP form 3311 (the details to be filled have been italicised):

  1. Port – Port of entry into the US.
  2. Date – Current date on which the form is being filled.
  3. Entry No. & Date – Leave blank (do not fill anything).
  4. Name of Manufacturer – Name of the manufacturer to whom goods are being returned in the US.
  5. City and State of Manufacture – The city and the manufacturer’s state to whom goods are being returned in the US.
  6. Reason For Return – Mention the reason for returning the goods. Also, add that the returned products are made in the US and have not seen any increment in value or improved condition, as per the US HTS: 9801.00.1012
  7. U.S. Drawback Previously – Unclaimed
  8. Previously Imported Under HTSUS 9813.00.05? – No.
  9. Marks, Numbers, and Description of Articles Returned - Add relevant details as per the shipment.
  10. Value - Add relevant details as per the shipment.
  11. WAS and HAS boxes should be checked.
  12. Name of Declarant – Add details of the person filling the form.
  13. Title of Declarant - Add details of the person filling the form.
  14. Name of Corporation - Add details of the person filling the form.
  15. Signature - Add details of the person filling the form.
  16. Signature of Authorizing CBP Officer - Leave blank (do not fill anything).

Sample CBP Form 3311

Here is a sample us customs form 3311 :-

CBP Form 3311

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