B-165977, APRIL 21, 1969, 48 COMP. GEN. 680

B-165977: Apr 21, 1969

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PROCEDURE FOR CLEARING GOVERNMENT SHIPMENTS FROM ABROAD THROUGH CUSTOMS WITHOUT INCURRING THE EXPENSE OF HIRING OUTSIDE CUSTOMS BROKERS WAS MISUNDERSTOOD AND THE SMALL AMOUNT OF THE FEE INVOLVED. WAS NOTIFIED BY THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS THAT A MAIL SHIPMENT HAD BEEN RECEIVED FROM SWEDEN AND WAS AT THE DALLAS. THE NOTICE ALSO STATED THAT "IF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH CUSTOMS REQUIREMENTS WRITE OR TELEPHONE THE CUSTOMS OFFICER AT THE ADDRESS INDICATED BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE CUSTOMHOUSE.". OF DALLAS AS AN AGENT TO HANDLE THE SHIPMENT THROUGH CUSTOMS ON THE BASIS OF BUREAU OF CUSTOMS ADVICE THAT "IF IT IS NOT CONVENIENT FOR YOU TO COME TO DALLAS. THERE ARE FOUR CUSTOMS BROKERS IN THIS CITY WHO OFFER THIS SERVICE OF CLEARING CUSTOMS SHIPMENTS.

B-165977, APRIL 21, 1969, 48 COMP. GEN. 680

CUSTOMS--BROKERS FEES--GOVERNMENT SHIPMENTS ALTHOUGH REIMBURSEMENT OF A $12 BROKERAGE FEE PAID BY AN EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE TO CLEAR THROUGH CUSTOMS A TELEDENDROMETER PURCHASED FROM A FOREIGN SOURCE BY THE SERVICE MAY BE MADE TO THE EMPLOYEE ON THE BASIS THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT, BUREAU OF CUSTOMS, PROCEDURE FOR CLEARING GOVERNMENT SHIPMENTS FROM ABROAD THROUGH CUSTOMS WITHOUT INCURRING THE EXPENSE OF HIRING OUTSIDE CUSTOMS BROKERS WAS MISUNDERSTOOD AND THE SMALL AMOUNT OF THE FEE INVOLVED, IN THE FUTURE THE PROCEDURE OF FILING CUSTOMS FORM 3461--- "APPLICATION ND SPECIAL PERMIT FOR IMMEDIATE DELIVERY"--- EITHER ON AN INDIVIDUAL OR YEARLY BASIS, SHOULD BE FOLLOWED TO CLEAR GOVERNMENT SHIPMENTS WITHOUT THE EXPENSE OF USING BROKERS, AND ANY DUTY PAYABLE BILLED TO THE AGENCY CONCERNED.

TO E. W. MILOT, UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, APRIL 21, 1969:

THIS REFERS TO YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 26, 1968, REFERENCE 6540, REQUESTING AN ADVANCE DECISION FROM OUR OFFICE WHETHER YOU MAY CERTIFY FOR PAYMENT A RECLAIM VOUCHER FOR $12 IN FAVOR OF MR. RUSSELL R. REYNOLDS, AN EMPLOYEE OF THE FOREST SERVICE, COVERING REIMBURSEMENT OF A BROKER'S FEE PAID BY HIM FROM PERSONAL FUNDS INCIDENT TO HAVING A TELEDENDROMETER PURCHASED BY THE UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE CLEARED THROUGH THE UNITED STATES CUSTOMS AT DALLAS, TEXAS. THE CLAIM HAD BEEN DISALLOWED PREVIOUSLY BY SETTLEMENT CERTIFICATE OF OUR OFFICE DATED OCTOBER 16, 1967.

THE INFORMATION OF RECORD SHOWS THAT THE UNITED STATES FOREST SERVICE, TIMBER MANAGEMENT LABORATORY, CROSSETT, ARKANSAS, WAS NOTIFIED BY THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS THAT A MAIL SHIPMENT HAD BEEN RECEIVED FROM SWEDEN AND WAS AT THE DALLAS, TEXAS, CUSTOMHOUSE. THE BUREAU OF CUSTOMS ADVISED THE FOREST SERVICE THAT THE NOTICE, TOGETHER WITH INVOICE AND OTHER RELATED PAPERS, SHOULD BE PRESENTED AT THE CUSTOMHOUSE, DALLAS, TEXAS, AFTER ARRIVAL OF THE SHIPMENT BY THE CONSIGNEE OR HIS DULY AUTHORIZED AGENT. THE NOTICE ALSO STATED THAT "IF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH CUSTOMS REQUIREMENTS WRITE OR TELEPHONE THE CUSTOMS OFFICER AT THE ADDRESS INDICATED BEFORE PROCEEDING TO THE CUSTOMHOUSE." MR. REYNOLDS, A PROJECT LEADER AT CROSSETT, HIRED THE RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY, INC; OF DALLAS AS AN AGENT TO HANDLE THE SHIPMENT THROUGH CUSTOMS ON THE BASIS OF BUREAU OF CUSTOMS ADVICE THAT "IF IT IS NOT CONVENIENT FOR YOU TO COME TO DALLAS, THERE ARE FOUR CUSTOMS BROKERS IN THIS CITY WHO OFFER THIS SERVICE OF CLEARING CUSTOMS SHIPMENTS, FOR WHICH THEY CHARGE A FEE." THE RAILWAY EXPRESS AGENCY CHARGED $12 BROKERAGE FEE WHICH MR. REYNOLDS PAID. MR. REYNOLDS FEELS THAT THE INTEREST OF THE GOVERNMENT WAS BETTER SERVED BY INCURRING AN OBLIGATION OF $12 TO TAKE CARE OF ENTRY OF THE SHIPMENT INTO THE UNITED STATES RATHER THAN TO INCUR APPROXIMATELY $60 EXPENSES FOR A GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE TO TRAVEL TO THE CUSTOMS OFFICE IN PERSON.

GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES HAVING SHIPMENTS FROM ABROAD SHOULD MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO CLEAR THEIR SHIPMENTS THROUGH UNITED STATES CUSTOMS WITHOUT INCURRING THE EXPENSE OF HIRING OUTSIDE CUSTOMS BROKERS (NON- GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES). WE HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY THE TREASURY DEPARTMENT, BUREAU OF CUSTOMS, THAT WHEN A GOVERNMENT AGENCY RECEIVES NOTICE THAT A GOVERNMENT SHIPMENT SUCH AS HERE INVOLVED HAS ARRIVED AT THE CUSTOMHOUSE THEY SHOULD REQUEST A CUSTOMS FORM 3461 (APPLICATION AND SPECIAL PERMIT FOR IMMEDIATE DELIVERY) FROM THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS. THE FORM 3461 MAY BE FILLED OUT ON AN INDIVIDUAL OR YEARLY BASIS UPON COMPLIANCE WITH THE CUSTOMS REQUIREMENTS. WHEN THE ORIGINAL CUSTOMS FORM 3461 IS FILED, WE UNDERSTAND THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS WILL FURNISH THE AGENCY THE NECESSARY INSTRUCTIONS TO FOLLOW. UPON RECEIPT OF THE COMPLETED FORM 3461 AND THE ABSENCE OF OTHER OBJECTION THE COLLECTOR OF CUSTOMS WILL THEN CLEAR THE SHIPMENT AND IF THERE IS ANY DUTY PAYABLE A BILL WILL BE FORWARDED TO THE AGENCY CONCERNED. 19 CFR 8.28 (C), 8.59. FROM THE FOREGOING IT WOULD APPEAR APPROPRIATE THAT THE PROCEDURES OUTLINED IN THE CUSTOMS REGULATIONS SHOULD BE FOLLOWED IN THE FUTURE IN SIMILAR SITUATIONS IN CLEARING GOVERNMENT SHIPMENTS THROUGH THE UNITED STATES CUSTOMS. IN THAT REGARD, SEE GENERALLY 19 CFR 8.6, 8.88.15 (C) (12), 9.4 AND 10.103.

YOU INDICATE IN YOUR LETTER THAT AUTHORITY EXISTS UNDER 28 COMP. GEN. 172 FOR PAYMENT OF THE CLAIM. THAT DECISION INVOLVED THE EXPENSES OF HIRING CUSTOMS BROKERS TO CLEAR SHIPMENTS OF AN EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS THROUGH FOREIGN CUSTOMS WHICH ARE ADMINISTRATIVELY APPROVED AS NECESSARY AND UNAVOIDABLE EXPENSES INCIDENT TO THE TRANSPORTATION OF THE EFFECTS. THE SHIPMENT HERE IN QUESTION NEITHER CONSISTED OF AN EMPLOYEE'S HOUSEHOLD EFFECTS NOR INVOLVED THE CLEARANCE OF SUCH EFFECTS THROUGH FOREIGN CUSTOMS.

IN THIS INSTANCE, HOWEVER, IN VIEW OF THE MISUNDERSTANDING AS TO APPLICABLE PROCEDURES AND THE SMALL AMOUNT INVOLVED, THE VOUCHER, RETURNED HEREWITH, MAY BE CERTIFIED FOR PAYMENT IF OTHERWISE CORRECT.