The in-bond system allows merchandise not intended for entry into U.S. commerce to travel through the United States without being subject to duties and taxes. The in-bond system makes this feasible to facilitate trade to foreign markets.
There are three types of in-bond movements:
- Foreign merchandise exported from the U.S. port of arrival without payment of duty
- Foreign merchandise traveling through the United States in-bond for exportation at a destination port without the payment of duty
- Foreign merchandise arriving at a U.S. port of entry and transported to another port where a superseding entry will be filed by the importer or broker
In-bond smuggling occurs when someone knowingly and willfully avoids paying lawful customs charges or duties on imported or exported merchandise that should have been invoiced. For instance, smugglers may divert goods into the domestic market after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) declarations show the goods have been exported. Smugglers may also try to divert imported goods by removing them from containers in transit between the initial port of entry and a bonded facility. They may also redirect containers between the initial port of entry and the alleged port of destination for exportation or misclassify imported merchandise held inside the containers. Doing so, allows smugglers to evade duties and taxes and intellectual property laws by gaming the in-bond system. It also introduces potentially harmful goods into the United States for consumption.
Homeland Security Investigations special agents investigate individuals and corporations responsible for the illegal entry of merchandise into the United States. These investigations are often related to foreign trade zones, bonded warehouses and customs brokers. They pursue both criminal and civil penalties against in-bond system violators.