• QA 134
    What duties are payable and what documentation do US Customs require to clear green coffee imports?
    What customs duties do Guatemalan coffees pay when entering the United States? What documents are required to clear US Customs for coffees imported from Guatemala?
    Asked by:
    Processor - Guatemala

    There are no duties on the importation of green or roasted coffee into the US, whereas the required documentation for green coffee imports is simple.

    Current regulations require importers to provide an invoice and a valid Bill of Lading. However your buyer will probably also require you to furnish a Certificate of Weight, a Packing List, an ICO (International Coffee Organization) Certificate of Origin, and possibly a Certificate of Quality*. You should note though that imports into the US are only allowed from suppliers who have registered with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under C-TPAT - the Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism. See topic 05.04.01 of the Guide for more on this.

    US importers usually employ the services of Customs Brokers to clear incoming goods, including mandatory inspection by the FDA, and to pay customs clearing fees and various port and handling charges.

    Importation of roasted coffee falls in a different customs category and is regulated more closely. US Customs and the FDA require very detailed and absolutely accurate descriptions of the ingredients contained in each package, the weight, the type of packaging, and details of the lining  (plastic or foil for example) that is in contact with the actual coffee. Here an exporter is well advised to obtain the fullest instructions from the buyer and to follow these to the letter…

    NB: For some years now the US Government has not required importers to submit ICO Certificates of Origin - perhaps this may change because the US rejoined the ICO in 2006. But it is recommended in any case that exporters always provide an ICO Certificate of Origin because it is in every producing country's interest that accurate data are collected on the world's export and import of coffee in all its forms.

    * We do not know if your own country has additional documentary requirements and would in any case suggest you contact the Guatemalan National Coffee Authority - Anacafe (www.anacafe.org)

    Posted 09 February 2007

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    Q&A 056, 077, 056