You have just cleared your first ocean shipment into the U.S., the process went smoothly and you are expecting to import more product into the U.S. from overseas; your business plan is coming together.

Upon receipt of your first invoice from your U.S. Customs Broker you notice an additional charge that does not equal the original expenses you had expected. When you phone your broker they explain every ocean shipment into the U.S. is subject to a Harbor Maintenance Fee (HMF). Thankfully, your first shipment was small and your Harbor Maintenance Fee was low.

7 Steps To Ocean Importing | Part 1

What Can You Expect For Future Shipments?

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has been collecting the Harbor Maintenance Fee for years. HMF was mandated by the Water Resource Development Act of 1986. It has been in effect since April of 1987. As of March 31, 1998, it is no longer collected on exports. The fees that are collected are used for the improvement and maintenance of ports and harbors. You can obtain a list of harbor maintenance fee ports on the CBP website.

The Importer of Record is liable for paying the Harbor Maintenance Fees and is paid when the entry summary is filed by your customs broker.

How To Calculate Harbor Maintenance Fees?

The easiest way to calculate the amount of HMF you will be charged on your imports into U.S. is to follow this formula:

  • HMF is calculated at 0.125 percent of the entered value of the imported cargo. On a $10,000 shipment your HMF would be $12.50
7 Steps To Ocean Importing | Part 2

A Couple Additional Things To Remember

  • Unlike Merchandise Processing Fee (MPF), HMF does not have a minimum or maximum charge
  • HMF is applicable on all imports regardless of any special trade programs that your goods may qualify
Contact Pacific Customs Brokers to learn if HMF is applicable to your imports.
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About Author
Aimee Miller
LCB, CCS

Aimee Miller is the Trade Compliance Supervisor with Pacific Customs Brokers USA , located in Blaine, Washington. She is a licensed U.S. Customs Broker and a Certified Customs Specialist, with 18 years of operational and Trade Compliance experience in the trade and transportation industry.

While we strive for accuracy in all our communications, as the Importer of Record it is incumbent upon your company to ensure that you are aware of the requirements under the new regulations so that you maintain compliance as always.