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Georgetown Law Library

Customs Law (U.S.) Research Guide

This guide is intended as a starting point for research in U.S. customs law.


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Code of Federal Regulations

Most Customs regulations are codified in title 19 of the CFR. Note however that other agencies also regulate imports, depending on the product. Thus, for automobiles, the Environmental Protection Agency is involved; for wine, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. Their regulations may be contained in other titles of the CFR. There are multiple formats of the CFR:

Customs and Border Protection Decisions

Customs and Border Protection also issues documents known as CBP Decisions (formerly known as Treasury Decisions, which should not to be confused with the Treasury Decisions issued by the Internal Revenue Service). CBP Decisions are varied; they include notices of CBP policy, CBP rulings, court decisions, and changes to CBP customs regulations.

Customs and Border Protection Rulings

Customs and Border Protection Rulings interpret and apply the law to a specific set of facts. Rulings that create a "uniform and established practice" are designated as CBP Decisions and are published in the Customs Bulletin and Decisions (see above). Most CBP rulings are not so published, but may still be useful as persuasive precedent in a similar situation in the future.

Rulings are issued by the Customs and Border Protection staff in Washington and New York. The New York rulings are limited to questions of classification. Headquarters rulings cover all topics.

Federal Register