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December 17, 2014

Starbucks Seeks Clarification From the CBP on its Tea Importing Rates

tazo-green-tea-frappAccording to Customs and Border Protection Ruling number HQ H254133, payment of duties for tea bags and tea packaging are to be considered separate. Starbucks sells Tazo Tea in retail packaging at grocery stores and in their stores. As sold in the United States, Tazo Tea consists of tea that is flavored with various ingredients and then packaged in single serve tea bags for retail sale. Starbucks imports bulk tea bags into the United States, then exports it to a foreign country where it is then packaged. As a result, the duties are considered to be separate!

The CBP states rulings previously issued on the separate classification of packaging for clarification in the letter.

"Moreover, CBP has consistently issued rulings concerning the separate classification of wrappers, outer containers, and inside containers for retail packaged tea that is less than 2.3 kg net. In HQ 957210, dated March 6, 1995, we issued a ruling on flavored tea that was packaged in foil packages inside cardboard boxes, wherein we directed the importer to classify the packaging components separately. On November 22, 1993, in New York Ruling Letter (NY) 892095, CBP issued a ruling on black tea that was imported in paper tea bags, with each tea bag enclosed in a paper sack. The tea bags were packaged in a cellophane-wrapped paper box in sizes of 10 or 24 tea bags per box. The importer was advised that “all immediate containers and wrappings, and all intermediate containers, of tea in packages less than 2.3 kilograms, net, each are dutiable at the rates applicable to such containers and wrappings if imported empty.” On November 28, 2006, we issued NY N004087 to Starbucks on merchandise substantially similar to the instant merchandise. See also NY 851505, dated April 27, 1990, NY E81943, dated June 4, 1999, and N258048, dated March 27, 2014."

Read the entire decision.

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