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Quota Import Entry Processing


Import quotas control the amount or volume of various commodities that can be imported into the United States during a specified period of time. Quotas are established by legislation, Presidential Proclamations, or Executive Orders. Quotas are announced in specific legislation or may be provided for in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS).

There are primarily three types of import quotas administered by CBP: absolute quotas, tariff-rate quotas (TRQs), and tariff preference levels (TPLs).

Absolute quotas permit a strictly limited quantity of specified merchandise from entering the commerce of the United States.  This merchandise can be entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption during specified periods. Once the quantity permitted under the quota is reached, no further entries or withdrawals for consumption of merchandise subject to that quota are permitted until the opening of the next quota period. If an absolute quota fills, the importer must warehouse, export, destroy, or abandon merchandise imported in excess of the restraint limit.

Tariff-rate quotas permit a specified quantity of merchandise to be entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption at a reduced duty rate during a specific period. Quantities imported in excess of the quota can be entered in unlimited quantities during the quota period, but are subject to higher rates of duty as specified in column one of the HTSUS.

Many free trade agreements and other special trade legislation establish Tariff Preference Levels for certain textile and apparel products. CBP administers these restraints like tariff-rate quotas because they are similar. Just as with a TRQ, quantities imported in excess of the TPL limit are permitted in unlimited quantities at a higher rate of duty than the rate specified in column one of the HTSUS. Additionally, merchandise in excess of the TPL limit or found not to be eligible for TPL benefits becomes subject to any duty or restrictions that may be in effect at the time for non-qualifying shipments.

What factors determine whether goods are subject to quota restrictions/restraint limits in order to receive preferential duty rates?

Several key considerations determine whether a shipment is subject to quota requirements associated with eligibility for preferential trade benefits:

  • HTSUS classification (based on merchandise description);

  • Textile category number (associated with HTSUS classification and used to determine proper quantity in square meter equivalents (SMEs) to apply to a quantitative restraint);

  • HTSUS chapter notes and additional U.S. notes to HTSUS chapters;

  • Country of origin (where the goods were grown, produced, or manufactured)

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