CBP Regulatory Audit

Officials with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Regulatory Audit recently discussed changes to import compliance auditing, including possible changes to penalty issuance for non-compliance.  This means instead of traditional Focused Assessments, companies may see more audit surveys and quick responses performed.


What happens if my company receives an Informed Compliance Notification via email or telephone call?

The Office of Regulatory Audit states that your company is a likely candidate for an audit survey.

What happens if my company receives a letter informing and referring us to relevant Informed Compliance Publications (ICP)?

The Office of Regulatory Audit is strongly considering your company for a comprehensive audit as part of its National Audit Plan. 

According to Braumiller Law Group, these audits involve both substantive transaction testing and internal control testing. These letters advise importers that, while they are not required to make a prior disclosure, they may elect to file a disclosure with CBP. The letters go on to state that, because the company has been provided information relating to specific problems with their import transactions, “violations that may occur in the future could result in seizures and forfeitures of imported merchandise and/or the assessment of monetary penalties.”

Why are Audit Surveys performed?

Audit surveys are performed when the importer presents a potential but unknown risk in a high priority trade area, such as anti-dumping or protection of intellectual property.

When conducting this survey, it can go 2 ways:

1.) if the risk is properly mitigated or eliminated by the importer, then the auditors can exit the review.

2.) if there is evidence of non-compliance, CBP can initiate a more focused review of the risk presented.  According to The Office of Regulatory Audit, this approach allows CBP to conduct more audits that effectively target suspected or high risk importers.

Audit Policy on Penalties

The Informed Compliance notification letters are intended to encourage importers to engage in self-review and to file prior disclosures.  Monetary penalties are issued based on the situation. More importantly, CBP confirmed that, in situations where a prior disclosure is not submitted, and an audit is performed, it will be Regulatory Audit’s new policy to recommend issuance of more penalties than what has been traditionally done in the Focused Assessment environment.  

Recommended Action

Any letter, email, or telephone call from CBP’s Office of Regulatory Audit should be taken seriously, and a company should strongly consider taking the following action:

(i)   Conduct a risk assessment and self-review of import transactions from the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE)

(ii)  Take appropriate action to correct any findings of non-compliance, which would include the implementation of internal controls

(iii)   Consider disclosing, under the prior disclosure procedure, possible findings of non-compliance and tender of any loss of revenue.

(iv)    Where a disclosure is chosen, make sure it is as complete and comprehensive as possible, given that CBP may also decide to audit the disclosure.

Has your company received any material aforementioned?

Scarbrough International, Ltd.’s Trade Compliance Consulting Division is known for its experts in U.S. Customs Compliance and has close relationships with related parties and international trade law partners in place to assist you in need.


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Information derived from  in an email sent by Vicky Wu, Associate Attorney, Braumiller Law Group, George R. Tuttle, III, Attorney, Law Offices of George R. Tuttle, and Adrienne Braumiller of the Braumiller Law Group.