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  • Deanna Clark

What to do if You've Received a US Customs (CBP) Seizure Notice

Whether it's money, personal effects, or a commercial shipment of cargo, it's a terrible day when US Customs takes something of yours at the border. Normally one thinks of CBP seizing property upon importation, but it's important to remember that even if you are leaving the country - especially when transiting by airplane - that the agency can and will take US currency when over $10,000 and no advance declaration has been made.

While you may be unsure as to whether or not you will see your merchandise (or money) again, CBP's intention to never return it to you becomes clear once you receive the seizure notice.

A seizure notice advises the person or company whose merchandise or money has been confiscated that US Customs intends to keep it and sets forth its reasons for having decided this way.

CBP sends this notification so that an interested party can try and recover the merchandise through a government administrative process. Depending on the reason(s) for the seizure, the chances of the merchandise being released can vary.

When a seizure notice has been received, it is important that a response to the letter is provided so that there is documented evidence that an attempt to "clear" the name of the interested party of the allegations that led to the seizure in the first place has been made. Without doing so, the history of any alleged violations – and no attempt to dispute the them - remains attached to the electronic record of that person or company, effectively leaving them with a ‘red flag’ hanging over their identity.

US Customs seizures can occur for reasons such as:

- No apparent authorization to import goods with a particular trademark

- An import of a knock-off or counterfeit goods, i.e., no actual authorization to import

- An allegation of smuggling money to another country (heading outbound)

Have questions about a seizure notice? Send us a message using the Contact form on the Home page and we'd be happy to connect with you.

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