19 CFR § 177.1 - General ruling practice and definitions.

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§ 177.1 General ruling practice and definitions.

(a) The issuance of rulings generally—(1) Prospective transactions. It is in the interest of the sound administration of the Customs and related laws that persons engaging in any transaction affected by those laws fully understand the consequences of that transaction prior to its consummation. For this reason, the Customs Service will give full and careful consideration to written requests from importers and other interested parties for rulings or information setting forth, with respect to a specifically described transaction, a definitive interpretation of applicable law, or other appropriate information. Generally, a ruling may be requested under the provisions of this part only with respect to prospective transactions—that is, transactions which are not already pending before a Customs Service office by reason of arrival, entry, or otherwise.

(2) Current or completed transactions—(i) Current transactions. A question arising in connection with a Customs transaction already before a Customs Service office will normally be resolved by that office in accordance with the principles and precedents previously announced by the Headquarters Office. If such a question cannot be resolved on the basis of clearly established rules set forth in the Customs and related laws, or in the regulations thereunder, or in applicable Treasury Decisions, rulings, opinions, or court decisions published in the Customs Bulletin, that office may be requested to forward the question to the Headquarters Office for consideration, as more fully described in § 177.11.

(ii) Completed transactions. A question arising in connection with an entry of merchandise which has been liquidated, or in connection with any other completed Customs transaction, may not be the subject of a ruling request.

(b) Oral advice. The Customs Service will not issue rulings in response to oral requests. Oral opinions or advice of Customs Service personnel are not binding on the Customs Service. However, oral inquiries may be made to Customs Service offices regarding existing rulings, the scope of such rulings, the types of transactions with respect to which the Customs Service will issue rulings, the scope of the rulings which may be issued, or the procedures to be followed in submitting ruling requests, as described in this part.

(c) Who may request a ruling. Except as otherwise provided in subpart I of part 181 of this chapter, a ruling may be requested under this part by any person who, as an importer or exporter of merchandise, or otherwise, has a direct and demonstrable interest in the question or questions presented in the ruling request, or by the authorized agent of such person. A “person” in this context includes an individual, corporation, partnership, association, or other entity or group.

(d) Definitions.

(1) A “ruling” is a written statement issued by the Headquarters Office or the appropriate office of Customs as provided in this part that interprets and applies the provisions of the Customs and related laws to a specific set of facts. A “ruling letter” is a ruling issued in response to a written request therefor and set forth in a letter addressed to the person making the request or his designee. A “published ruling” is a ruling which has been published in the Customs Bulletin.

(2) An “information letter” is a written statement issued by the Customs Service that does no more than call attention to a well-established interpretation or principle of Customs law, without applying it to a specific set of facts. An information letter may be issued in response to a request for a ruling when: (i) The request suggests that general information, rather than a ruling, is actually being sought, (ii) the request is incomplete or otherwise fails to meet the requirements set forth in this part, or (iii) the ruling requested cannot be issued for any other reason, and (iv) it is believed that general information may be of some benefit to the party making the request.

(3) A “Customs transaction” is an act or activity to which the Customs and related laws apply. A “prospective” Customs transaction is one that is contemplated or is currently being undertaken and has not resulted in any arrival or the filing of any entry or other document, or in any other act to bring the transaction, or any part of it, under the jurisdiction of any Customs Service office. A “current” Customs transaction is one which is presently under consideration by a port office of the Customs Service. A “completed” Customs transaction is one which has been acted upon by a Customs Service field office and with respect to which that office has issued a determination which is final in nature, but is (or was) subject to appeal, petition, protest, or other review, as provided in the applicable Customs laws and regulations. In a series of identical, recurring transactions, each transaction shall be considered an individual transaction for purposes of this part.

(4) An “authorized agent” is a person expressly authorized by a principal to act on his behalf. A ruling requested by an attorney or other person acting as an agent must include a statement describing the authority under which the request is made. With the exception of attorneys whose authority to represent is known, any person appearing before the Customs Service as an agent in connection with a ruling request may be required to present evidence of his authority to represent the principal. The foregoing requirements will not apply to an individual representing his full-time employer, or to a bona-fide officer, director, or other qualified representative of a corporation, association, or organized group.

(5) The term “Customs and related laws,” as generally used in this part, includes any provision of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended (including the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States), or the Customs Regulations, or any provision contained in other legislation (including the navigation laws), regulations, treaties, orders, proclamations, or other agreements administered by the Customs Service.

(6) The term “Headquarters Office,” as used herein, means the Regulations and Rulings, Office of international Trade at Headquarters, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Washington, DC.

[T.D. 75-186, 40 FR 31929, July 30, 1975, as amended by T.D. 80-285, 45 FR 80104, Dec. 3, 1980; T.D. 84-149, 49 FR 28699, July 16, 1984; T.D. 89-1, 53 FR 51271, Dec. 21, 1988; T.D. 89-74, 54 FR 31515, July 31, 1989; T.D. 94-1, 58 FR 69473, Dec. 30, 1993]