Inspections and preclearance in foreign countries
When authorized by treaty or executive agreement, the Secretary may station customs officers in foreign countries for the purpose of examining persons and merchandise prior to their arrival in, or subsequent to their exit from, the United States.
Functions and duties
Customs officers stationed in a foreign country under subsection (a) may exercise such functions and perform such duties (including inspections, searches, seizures and arrests) as may be permitted by the treaty, agreement or law of the country in which they are stationed.
The Secretary may by regulation require compliance with the customs laws of the United States in a foreign country and, in such a case the customs laws and other civil and criminal laws of the United States relating to the importation or exportation of merchandise, filing of false statements, and the unlawful removal of merchandise from customs custody shall apply in the same manner as if the foreign station is a port of entry or exit within the customs territory of the United States.
When authorized by treaty, agreement or foreign law, merchandise which is subject to seizure or forfeiture under United States law may be seized in a foreign country and transported under customs custody to the customs territory to the United States to be proceeded against under the customs law.
Stationing of foreign customs and agriculture inspection officers in the United States
The Secretary of State, in coordination with the Secretary and the Secretary of Agriculture, may enter into agreements with any foreign country authorizing the stationing in the United States of customs and agriculture inspection officials of that country (if similar privileges are extended by that country to United States officials) for the purpose of ensuring that persons and merchandise going directly to that country from the United States, or that have gone directly from that country to the United States, comply with the customs and other laws of that country governing the importation or exportation of merchandise. Any foreign customs or agriculture inspection official stationed in the United States under this subsection may exercise such functions, perform such duties, and enjoy such privileges and immunities as United States officials may be authorized to perform or are afforded in that foreign country by treaty, agreement, or law.
Application of certain laws
When customs officials of a foreign country are stationed in the United States in accordance with subsection (e), and if similar provisions are applied to United States officials stationed in that country—
(1) sections 111 and 1114 of title 18 shall apply as if the officials were designated in those sections; and
(2) any person who in any matter before a foreign customs official stationed in the United States knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact, or makes any false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations, or makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious or fraudulent statement or entry, is liable for a fine of not more than $10,000 or imprisonment for not more than 5 years, or both.
Privileges and immunities
Any person designated to perform the duties of an officer of the Customs Service pursuant to section 1401(i) of this title shall be entitled to the same privileges and immunities as an officer of the Customs Service with respect to any actions taken by the designated person in the performance of such duties.
Customs procedures and commitments
The Secretary of Homeland Security, the United States Trade Representative, and other appropriate Federal officials shall work through appropriate international organizations including the World Customs Organization (WCO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Maritime Organization, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, to align, to the extent practicable, customs procedures, standards, requirements, and commitments in order to facilitate the efficient flow of international trade.
United States Trade Representative
The United States Trade Representative shall seek commitments in negotiations in the WTO regarding the articles of GATT 1994 that are described in subparagraph (B) that make progress in achieving—
(i) harmonization of import and export data collected by WTO members for customs purposes, to the extent practicable;
(ii) enhanced procedural fairness and transparency with respect to the regulation of imports and exports by WTO members;
(iii) transparent standards for the efficient release of cargo by WTO members, to the extent practicable; and
(iv) the protection of confidential commercial data.
The articles of the GATT 1994 described in this subparagraph are the following:
(i) Article V (relating to transit).
(ii) Article VIII (relating to fees and formalities associated with importation and exportation).
(iii) Article X (relating to publication and administration of trade regulations).
The term “GATT 1994” means the General Agreement on Tariff and Trade annexed to the WTO Agreement.
The Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through the Commissioner and in consultation with the United States Trade Representative, shall work with the WCO to facilitate the efficient flow of international trade, taking into account existing international agreements and the negotiating objectives of the WTO. The Commissioner shall work to—
(A) harmonize, to the extent practicable, import data collected by WCO members for customs purposes;
(B) automate and harmonize, to the extent practicable, the collection and storage of commercial data by WCO members;
(C) develop, to the extent practicable, transparent standards for the release of cargo by WCO members;
(D) develop and harmonize, to the extent practicable, standards, technologies, and protocols for physical or nonintrusive examinations that will facilitate the efficient flow of international trade; and
(E) ensure the protection of confidential commercial data.
In this subsection, the term “Commissioner” means the Commissioner responsible for the United States Customs and Border Protection in the Department of Homeland Security.
(June 17, 1930, ch. 497, title IV, § 629, as added Pub. L. 99–570, title III, § 3128, Oct. 27, 1986, 100 Stat. 3207–89; amended Pub. L. 108–7, div. J, title I, § 127(c), Feb. 20, 2003, 117 Stat. 441; Pub. L. 108–429, title I, § 1561(b), (c), Dec. 3, 2004, 118 Stat. 2581, 2582; Pub. L. 109–280, title XIV, § 1635(f)(1), Aug. 17, 2006, 120 Stat. 1171; Pub. L. 109–347, title IV, § 404, Oct. 13, 2006, 120 Stat. 1928.)