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Custom-House

customs, united, duties, port and collector

CUSTOM-HOUSE, an establishment where commodities are entered for importation or exportation; where duties, bounties or draw backs, payable or receivable upon such importa tion or exportation, are paid or received, and where ships are entered and cleared. In the United States, the custom-house of each port is under the direction of a collector of the port appointed by. the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. He is responsible to the Secretary of the Treasury. The principal cus tom-house of the United States is in New York. Although import duties are one of the chief sources of revenue there is no separate bureau of customs as there is in the case of internal revenue. Supervision by the govern ment of importations begins in the country of origin, where the value of the shipment is certified before United States consular officers. The customs regulations prescribe the methods of entry of goods, of valuation and classifica tion, in order that the proper tariff rates may be levied at the port of entry. At the custom house are collected the duties and storage, and warehouse space is provided for such goods as the importer does not wish to use at once, and on which dues are consequently deferred. The country for customs purposes is divided into districts in each of which is located a port of entry. The staff at the larger of these ports of entry comprises a collector, appraiser, naval officer, surveyor, gaugers and inspectors. In the smaller ports more than one office is often filled by one official.

The general customs procedure requires that each vessel carry a full manifest, or description her cargo, giving names of the ports of origin and of the consignees. Revenue officers

inspect this manifest before the vessel docks, and it is at once delivered to the collector of the port, who next issues a permit to transfer the cargo. The cargo is unloaded in presence of the collector or his representatives and the consignees must now present a detailed invoice which must state the value of the goods. The gross amount of the duty is now computed from this invoice and when it is paid, the consignees may remove the merchandise with the exception of those packages which are kept for examination. The appraisers now make a valuation according to those goods examined and they furnish the collector with sufficient data to enable the latter to determine the rate of duty to which the goods are subject. If the importer has paid too little or too much an adjustment is made by his paying the additional sum, or in case he paid too much he receives a refund. if dissatisfaction is expressed at the appraisal a reappraisal may be ordered. Appeals from the second decision may be taken to the board of general appraisers, and in cer tain cases to the United States Court of Cus toms Appeals. Fines, penalties and forfeitures may be imposed for undervaluation, or in gen eral for any attempt to evade the payment of duties according to the schedules fixed by law. In general the customs officials of the United States have little discretionary power compared with those of other countries. However, the customs regulations in the United States wide greater remedies for errors or unjust ex actions of any kind. See CUSTOMS DUTIES; TARIFF ADMINISTRATION.