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Foreign Trade Zone Services

In today’s global marketplace, it is highly likely that your business is either importing and/or exporting goods into and out of the United States. The Foreign-Trade Zones Program is offered through the Department of Commerce, Foreign-Trade Zones board, and gives companies within the United States a wide range of benefits that allow them to stay competitive in today’s marketplace. And yet, many companies don’t fully understand how FTZs can be utilized and what positive impacts they can have on their business.

To better understand the potential benefits of an FTZ, you can begin by asking the following questions:

  • Are any of the goods you use in production or sell same condition imported?
  • Do you know your Incoterms for the purchase, sales and delivery of imported goods?
  • Do you have access to your U.S. Customs entry forms?
  • Do you control your own freight?

If you answered “no” or “I don’t know” to any of these questions, you may be at a higher risk for fines, increased broker fees or delays in getting your products to market.

At MarksNelson, we can help you explore ways to improve your trade strategy and protect your business.

What are Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ)?

According to CBP, FTZs are “are secure areas under U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) supervision that are…the United States' version of what are known internationally as free-trade zones.”

Why would my business consider operating in an FTZ?

The FTZ program offers a variety of benefits for many different types of companies. The program allows importers to have better oversight of their import process, as well as a better relationship with US Customs. Many companies use FTZs in order to hedge against the volatility of evolving trade agreements and relationships between the U.S. and other countries.  Companies that import high-value goods or a high volume of products can also potentially reduce duties and broker fees by operating an FTZ.

Should I establish my own or use an existing FTZ?

While many companies operate within established FTZs, others are benefiting from establishing their own.  When advising companies, we consider factors that can influence their FTZ approach, including types of goods produced or sold and locations where goods are manufactured or distributed.

How can MarksNelson help?

Our FTZ consultants have experience as both FTZ operators and FTZ consultants and can advise in trade planning from origination to destination.  Through this experience, we have built relationships with other trade service providers and current and former CBP employees that can provide additional insights.

When working with clients on FTZ and other trade matters, we partner with our in-house tax and accounting consultants in order to evaluate the bigger picture of trade as part of an overall tax planning and operational strategy.  We also have access to international experts as part of the Leading Edge Global Alliance of firms.

Whether you are already operating within the FTZ program and need additional guidance or support or are evaluating the benefits of an FTZ for your company, we provide the following services:

Cost Savings Analysis

  • We look at an anticipated rate of return and timing of FTZ options

Application Assistance

  • We will work with your local FTZ Grantee on the Foreign-Trade Zones Board FTZ Application / Production Notification to Designate your facility as an FTZ
  • We will work with your local U.S. Customs Port to file the Application for Activation (this process tends to be complex and difficult).
  • With our help, we can improve the accuracy of your applications and speed up the application and activation process.

Compliance Training

  • We provide an “all personnel” FTZ Awareness training prior to your site being Activation by U.S. Customs.
  • We also provide specific training for your international operations, compliance, accounting, and finance departments and other executives with oversight of foreign trade decisions.


    • We can provide guidance on the daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting requirements for your FTZ project.
    • E214 Admission Guidance and Troubleshooting
    • Weekly Estimate/Entry Guidance and Troubleshooting
    • Quarterly Harbor Maintenance Fee
    • Annual Reconciliation to U.S. Customs and Border Protection
    • Annual FTZ Board Reporting

      Filing Assistance of Prior Disclosure/Voluntary Notifications

      • If the case an error is found, we provide assistance on preparing and filing a Prior Disclosure / Voluntary Notification to the applicable U.S. Customs Ports and U.S. Census.

      FTZ Inventory Control and Recordkeeping Implementation and Support

      • During the Activation process, the internal warehouse management system will either be revised to fit the FTZ requirements, a 3rd party software will be licensed and installed, or you will work with a 3rd party provider on FTZ managed services for your FTZ. We will assist in determining which option is the best fit for your current business model, and we will assist with the implementation of that solution.